Renovations are expensive, and some home renovation choices are a good way to make things worse. Here are some are decisions that could provide an express ticket to debt counseling:
1. Unnecessary false ceiling
A false ceiling is a ceiling under your actual ceiling. They mainly exist to conceal wiring, and to alter the appearance of the ceiling (outside of Singapore, these can help housing interiors adapt to seasonal changes such as winter to spring).
False ceilings can cost anywhere from $4 to $6 per square foot to install. They may be an unnecessary cost: unless your ceiling is truly crawling with wires (rare these days), a good contractor can easily find ways to hide these without a false ceiling.
Besides, false ceilings have a tendency to cause project delays, due to the intricacy of the work.
2. Picking the most expensive countertop materials
Many people can’t tell between quartz, granite, marble, and so forth. Using a higher grade of material on, say, a kitchen counter, won’t result in a huge visual difference.
Consider that a material like, say, marble can cost up from $80 per square foot for countertops. Using simple wood or plastic can leave you enough spare cash to buy needed appliances. You can probably get a fridge, washing machine, or dryer (all of which are more essential) with the savings on simpler countertops.
3. Renovating all at once
If you’ve bought a house, your first instinct may be to do all the renovations at once. But this isn’t always advantageous (unless you’re a landlord rushed for time). It’s often a good idea to renovate in portions (e.g. living room first, kitchen next, bedroom last, and so forth).
This prevents you having to take out huge lump sums, or burn through multiple loans. On top of that, you can make more cost-effective decisions: over a few months, for example, you’ll get a sense of whether you really need to rip out the shower of a resale unit and replace it, or whether you really need a kitchen island (see below).
Unless you’re expecting tenants, don’t rush.
4. Flooring and tiling are the bulk of costs
For most non-landed properties, keep your eye on flooring and tiling. This is the most common cause of busted budgets.
Marble flooring, for example, can cause between $12 to $18 per square foot. Compare this to vinyl which resembles fake marble, that only costs around $5 -$7 per square foot. Now, consider around 900 square feet of flooring:
At the high end of prices, marble would cost about $16,200 before labour costs. Vinyl would cost about $6,300. A difference of $9,900 is a huge deal, given that the renovation loan cap is $30,000 (more than that and you need to use a more expensive personal loan).
5. Ripping out and re-modelling the bathroom when its not necessary
This incurs two costs: first, there’s the cost of demolishing and clearing away everything, which may include perfectly good faucets, sinks, cabinets, and so forth. This alone can run up to a few thousand dollars.
The second cost is re-installing the new bathroom; it’s estimated that costs run between $8,000 to $12,000 for a full bathroom remodel; that’s without taking into account the demolition and clearing above.
Simply put, consider touching up the existing bathroom, rather than ripping everything down. Especially if the current bathroom works just fine.
6. Super elaborate kitchen islands
Kitchen islands have been a trend since the early 2000’s, and they just won’t die. These are, in essence, just big rectangular blocks in the middle of your kitchen. You can eat on them, cook on them, and most have power outlets.
The price range on kitchen islands is ridiculous: as low as $300, to as high as over $10,000.
The massive price range comes from the available options – you can go to the extent of installing a full working bar (with beer taps) on a kitchen island, or install ovens and seats and create a breakfast counter.
But unless you’re running a secret lunch diner from your house, ask yourself why. Is the novelty going to last? Because a $10,000 kitchen island is not going to add $10,000 in value to your house; nor is the average tenant going to fork out hundreds of dollars more for rent just because of it.
On top of that, the complications of a kitchen island with running water and electricity raises the risk of delays (longer renovations mean more money).
7. Built-in Aquarium
We know how gorgeous it looks, but seriously…just consider just getting a normal fish tank.
First off, it’s eye-popping how expensive built-in aquariums can be. Remember these tanks are custom built – your contractor can’t just swing by a shop and just buy. The glass needs to be cut to your specifications, the lighting and access points need to be incorporated into the walls or cabinetry, and so forth.
Even a small built-in aquarium (a slit in a living room feature wall) can come to well over $3,500. For more elaborate versions (e.g. the type that can curve along the length of a wall), the price can sneak past the $10,000 mark.
Given that you already have an expensive hobby (we’re well aware of the costs of keeping fish) you’re better off not busting your renovation budget, and keeping that cash for your hobby.
Second, a huge, built-in aquarium can be a big turn off to future buyers; they may not be fish lovers like you. And despite how difficult these tanks are to clean, you have no choice but to maintain them (unless you want an algae-ridden eyesore in the middle of your living room).
Would you even consider an unofficial rental arrangement? Voice your thoughts in our comments section or on our Facebook community page.
Looking for a property? Find the home of your dreams today on Singapore’s largest property portal 99.co! You can also access a wide range of tools to calculate your down payments and loan repayments, to make an informed purchase.