If you’re reading this article, congratulations on being first-time homeowners! You’ve done the necessary paperwork and collected the keys to your BTO flat. The next order of business is to renovate and furnish your HDB apartment.
To help you better estimate how much you should set aside for renovation costs, we've compiled this HDB BTO renovation cost guide.
How Much Does BTO Renovation Cost?
Depending on your needs and how you’d like your space to look like, renovation costs and durations will vary. The following estimates are provided by Qanvast.
HDB BTO flat type
Estimated renovation cost
$38,850 to $44,000
$43,000 to $45,000
$45,000 to $52,000
Generally, new flats (such as BTOs) are can be quite cheap to renovate, especially if you’ve opted in for the additional fittings and flooring when you bought the flat from HDB. Other than the kitchen, you may not even need to renovate anything else and rely on store-bought furniture instead (built-in carpentry work is expensive).
3-Room BTO Renovation Costs
As expected, BTO renovation costs go up as the size of your home increases. The estimated renovation cost for a 3-room BTO flat is between $38,850 to $44,000. Less material is required to furnish your home, which explains why it’s cheaper as compared to a 5-room flat.
What this does is give you more budget when renovating your home. You can either save or channel the extra money into fancier items such as built-in furniture or custom bathroom tiling.
4-Room BTO Renovation Costs
For a 4-room BTO flat, the renovation costs fall between $43,000 to $45,000. A 4-room flat is a fair amount of space for couples who are just starting out. If you plan to have children, it makes sense to furnish your home in a way that allows you to reconfigure the layout easily. For example, don’t have too much built-in furniture in your extra bedroom. This way, you can easily convert the space into a baby’s nursery (and later on, a child’s bedroom).
5-Room BTO Renovation Costs
Due to the size of a 5-room BTO flat, it’s more expensive to renovate the space. Costs start at $45,000 and can go up to $52,000. Be prepared to shell out more if you’re the type who has a ‘more is more’ design attitude.
Factors that influence BTO renovation costs
Size of BTO Flat
As mentioned, the larger your flat, the higher the renovation costs. This is because more raw materials, furnishing and labour is required to put together your home. For example, if you have a lot of walls to cover, painting costs can add up.
Who Renovates your BTO Flat
Unless you have the expertise to carry out renovation works, most people pick from these three renovation provider options: interior designers (IDs), contractors or design-and-build services. Prices vary based on service levels, workmanship, expertise and job scopes.
Going straight to a renovation contractor is the cheapest option, but it means there will be no design and project management help. Be prepared to come up with the design you want and to oversee the renovations from start to finish.
Materials Used for your BTO flat
If you’re the type who insists on custom carpentry or parquet wood flooring, it’s easy to rack up astronomical renovation costs due to the materials needed. For instance, excluding the subfloor layer, ceramic tiles typically cost $10 to $12 per square foot but hardwood flooring will set you back $30 to $50 per square foot.
Scope of Renovation Work Done to your BTO flat
The more elaborate the interior design, the more work is required to transform your home. Naturally, the accompanying price tag will increase. Areas which can really push up renovation costs are:
Carpentry (e.g. cabinets for your kitchen and custom TV consoles)
Hacking (e.g. removal of existing tiles, walls and built-in furniture)
Masonry (e.g. subfloor layer when tiling floors, base of cabinets)
Disposal of unwanted materials
Other renovation work you will have to include are:
Plumbing and electrical work
Window and grills
How to Lower BTO Renovation Costs
On a tight budget? Here are some tips to help you shave a few bucks (or more) off your BTO renovation costs.
1. Have a Clear Direction on your Desired Home Design
You want to have a vague idea of what your home will look like. Create Pinterest boards and pin home designs you like. Look at local interior design websites for inspiration.
Additionally, draw up a list to determine what are ‘must-haves’ and ‘nice-to-haves’. This will minimise the changes your ID has to make and help you decide what to give up should renovation costs exceed your budget.
2. Design your Own Home
If you intend on making minimal changes to your home, choosing the DIY route and skipping an ID is an option. You can use online tools like SketchUp to plan the layout of your home.
Once you’ve finalised the design, source for and work directly with contractors to carry out the installation and construction work. Make sure these contractors are registered under HDB’s Directory of Renovation Contractors. Don’t forget to check the HDB website and apply for the relevant HDB renovation permits.
3. Overlay Tiles Rather than Hack Them
Not only is hacking tiles an expensive endeavour, but also will require masonry work to repair the floor surface before installing your desired tiles. Go for laminate flooring instead. Laminate flooring is much cheaper and will cost you only $6 to $8 per square foot.
Throw a rug on laminate flooring and none will be the wiser.
4. Source Your Own Materials, Accessories and Fixtures
IDs typically have their preferred contractors and contacts for materials, accessories and fixtures. While they will take care of everything for you, they usually charge a sourcing and purchasing fee on top of material costs.
So ask if accessories such as door knobs and cabinet handles are included in the finalised renovation quote. If they are, you can request to source for your own accessories. For instance, if you want a granite or quartz countertop for your kitchen island, you can cut out the middleman and head down to industrial warehouses to purchase directly from suppliers. For everything else, there is Taobao and EZBuy.
5. Minimise Carpentry Works and Built-in Furniture
Popular design trends like the ‘Japandi’ aesthetic feature much wood and built-in furniture work. While extensive custom carpentry looks classy, it’s not necessary. Browse for affordable options at furniture stores in Singapore or go green with secondhand furniture.
Alternatively, select furniture made from materials such as rattan or wicker. These related materials will give off a similar vibe to wood furniture.
Mixing wood and wicker pieces is a cost-effective way to add organic textures to a room
6. Paint your House Yourself
Painting costs for a 3-room BTO flat range between $800 to $1,500, depending on the type of paint and number of colours used. If you are crafty, paint your own walls or put up wallpaper yourself to save costs!
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This article is written by Cheryl Chiew. Cheryl likes bread and cats, especially so when cats tuck in their limbs so that they look like bread. Drop her an email that finds her well at firstname.lastname@example.org.