Signing for Build-To-Order flats are easy indicators of the quintessential Singaporean adulthood, and for most it's the inauguration of a lifetime of financial independence since it means to live away from your parents or under a landlord.
Contrary to having a frugal mindset, many homeowners tend to veer towards extravagant planning since they wouldn’t want their first home to lose out on value because of penny wise fear of accumulating debt.
It is indeed an acrobatic maneuver to have both an affordable yet stunning interior, albeit not impossible. In this article we break down budgeting tricks to a valued BTO renovation and the psychology behind it in 5 minutes.
Planning a budget sounds simple but a well crafted “budget” is the foundation of having a valued BTO renovation. The economics of a budget often offshoots into two thresholds: setting a boundary before your spending, as well as trying to keep within the limits when you are spending- both equally important.
The trick of setting a logically sound budget is to create a spending limit that is slightly exaggerated as oftentimes homeowners exceed their pre-planned budget. The psychology of this is to overestimate your expenses, which would result in a higher probability of staying within your abled spending limits and actually saving money.
Although, this process would be a lot easier if we start saving on a renovation budget a few years before we collect our keys- more money means more spending power!
Many homeowners would then ask, “So are we supposed to keep saving all our money just for renovation?”- Home expert Dan DiClerico often says that a broad rule of thumb is to segment the budget according to sections of the home, with the kitchen valued at 5-15% of the home value and toilet gauged at 3-7%.
In all fairness, the proverbial expression of not putting lipstick on a pig does apply, a great home should be paired with equally great furnishing, vice versa.
Now that we know how much we are allowed to spend, we shouldn’t splurge on our budget as if it's a benchmark to hit, but one to avoid hitting. We can choose to pay for hard hitting iconic feature pieces for our home, but we should also balance it out with some low end items.
For example, buy a single quartz kitchen island countertop as a signature furnishing, and maybe spend less on the toilet tiles, etc. With that said, it is the homeowners’ prerogative to decide as different people have varying lifestyles that focus on specific parts of the home.
If your toilet is traffic heavy, use a durable tile that is slightly more expensive or maybe a decadent bathtub to relax after a day of work. Another tip for effective and practical furniture planning is to purchase pre-existing sets that furniture retailers might offer, as they are oftentimes discounted when purchased at a bulk.
Do consider modular pieces that have multiple functions as it is economically wise, a price of one for two pieces. As a general rule, functional items are the ones worth investing in the most, that includes air-conditioner, cabinets, electrical work, etc, as faulty versions of these will rack up heavy maintenance costs.
The antithesis of functional items would be impractical or overtly luxurious items, one good example would be a semi-open concept kitchen that would cost a lot to craft, but doesn’t necessarily be put to use effectively.
One great tip is to always join BTO groups on social media as many such groups engage in group buys of furniture or secret offers, another economical way to navigate home furnishing.
Other tips include looking for alternative lookalike materials that look expensive but costs a fraction of the true cost. Materials like compact laminate resemble hardwood and stone, while sintered surfaces mimic quartz and porcelain, but still keep your budget on the low end. In the event where you spoil the pieces, you wouldn’t be as displeased with the accidental cost.
For most BTO flats, you can also choose to keep the Optional Component Scheme, an opt-in scheme which provides furnishing and fixtures such as internal doors, basins, shower sets and some tiling.
Apart from keeping these preexisting items, it's also recommended to overlay flooring over existing tiles instead of hacking as such processes usually rack up a huge cost.
And if you intend on hacking specific parts, it's worth noting that half hacked furnishing like half hacked walls usually cost much more than a fully hacked wall as it's more laborious and costly.
As the saying goes, “teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”- opting for stratic furnishing that helps to save money over time equates to saving money for your BTO. Water and energy saving add ons are two such fixtures that can be used effectively.
Water saving faucets and water saving washing machines add up to a high savings when you consider the long term impact it has on your household, especially since you cannot live without it.
Furthermore, they are great motifs to play around with in your interior design as they are providers of functional fengshui. (Check out our article on increasing the impact of feng shui on your BTO!)
Energy saving devices are varied but homeowners should again consider their own lifestyle as indicators of which to place emphasis on. Refrigerators and air conditioners are two such items that should be purchased for energy saving purposes.
Even though the prices of such appliances can be really expensive, they tend to salvage the cost by helping save more in the long run. An additional add on would be blackout curtains that help to reduce heat transfer, this helps to save energy as it drastically diminishes the need to use the air conditioner or fan.
One last step off the energy saving train, plan your electricity plug routing well as you wouldn’t likely understand your needs until you have moved in, but by then an additional plug would cost a few hundred bucks to install!
Now we cast away the financial benefits of well planned logistics and we take a look at economical aesthetics. It doesn’t mean we have to live in an ugly home just because we want to be slightly more frugal.
For example, the age old struggle of wallpaper or paint- it is an ever struggle on the pros and cons. Some interior designers would say that wallpapers are difficult to remove while paint can be easily covered up, whereas others would debate that paint jobs don’t last as long as wallpapers would.
It is still best to consult your interior designers as different materials mean different materiality and shelf life. While speaking of paint, painting your own furniture or secondhand pieces can be an effective way to save money and give a fresh breath of air to the room- do it yourself when you can!
A valued renovation is difficult to navigate but it's proven to be worth the effort because you have already spent so much money purchasing the home. It is all about a tedium of balancing act between wants and needs and the cost-benefit analysis of its value to your life.
The psychology of a 5 minutes read to a cheap BTO renovation may be true but the physical journey to an actually cheap renovation takes a few months. Good luck to all the homeowners!