self designed 1216sqft mid century modern home, infused with our personality!

Our renovation journey as 2 "broke" newlyweds

  • Couple Living
  • 3 br
  • HDB (Resale)
  • ~1,200 sqft
  • Mid-Century Modern
  • A bit of a background, we bought and renovated a 7 year old 5-room resale flat in the NorthEast region with a main contractor last year in 2023, and we had our wedding in Q4 the same year. You can imagine that our budget was a bit tight as the $$$ were just going out so quickly when it came to renovation, furnishing and wedding planning 💸💸💸 Here are 5 ways we managed to stay within the budget of SGD43,000 for our renovation.
  • 1. Have a discussion pre-reno or even before you buy the house on the things that you/your partner would like to achieve during reno, what are the “must dos” and “good to have” items. This is extremely important - to sit down and have a conversation about the expectations each party has about the renovation and the things they would not compromise on. It might seem troublesome to brainstorm about these but it is crucial if not, the arguments would definitely surface at some point during renovation when you realize priorities are not aligned. Because there are just too many things that everyone would like to do... but too little budget.
  • 2. Decide on an overall budget between you and your partner, this can be loosely based on the research you have done, the quotations you have gotten and also considering the $$$ that you can fork out. For us, we did not want to take a reno loan for sure, so we wanted to spend within our means. Someone needs to be in charge of tracking the expenses to ensure the budget is kept to and all the reno costs are accounted for. For this, I was the Financial Comptroller at home hahaha, I tracked the expenses and ensured there were no errors in the invoices from the main contractor and different vendors. If my husband or I wanted to check off something extra in the “want” list then we would try to balance it out by maybe DIY-ing something in the existing list instead of hiring vendors.
  • Also, compare compare compare!!!! Remember to get more than one quotation for the renovation. Just an example - for our cove light extension at our L box ceiling, we had a contractor quoting us for $2500 while the main contractor we went with only charged us $700.
  • On the other hand, we felt that the main contractor’s carpentry was slightly more expensive so we engaged a separate carpenter to do up our dream MBR wardrobe and dressing table which saved us $1.5k as compared to our main con's quote for the MBR carpentry.
  • 3. For resale flats, during the viewings, consider what you can retain and what you need to replace then factor it into your costs. One huge attraction point for us when we saw this flat, was the stone tiles at the entryway and the wooden tiles from the living room leading to all the rooms. We loved them and we knew we definitely wanted to retain them so that was a cost that we could save on.
  • Similarly for the wooden frames, the quality was really good and we retained the frames but just did some DIY varnishing to them. Conversely, the toilets were areas where we wanted to do a complete overhaul because the tiles were quite dirty and not very well maintained.
  • 4. DIY what you can (if you have the luxury of time!) or think of alternatives. Below are some examples (in pictures) of what we did/alternatives we chose. We saved about $750 here, just by painting 2 textured walls in our living room ourselves.
  • Here is the end product of our TV feature wall.
  • & the other accent wall in the living room, where we went for the Hunter Green shade to add some colour to the house :)
  • Tadah!
  • We varnished the frames to make them a darker wood colour, which fits in better with the colour palette we set for our home – saved us about $600.
  • And we removed all the built-in carpentry ourselves in the kitchen and bedrooms - with the help of my in laws! And it was surprisingly quite easy. This actually saved us $1290!
  • The state of our living room after removing all the carpentry. Our main contractor disposed of the old carpentry for us FOC.
  • This was the original main door - the classic HDB main door and gate.
  • Instead of changing out the entire main door, which will be a waste since a fire-rated main door is not cheap, we opted for a door wrap which saved us $680 and gave the main door a fresh and clean look.
  • For the kitchen tiles, instead of overlaying tiles, we went for vinyl floorboards, saving us another $1500. The vinyl floorboards feel really nice, there are no grout lines to worry about and it is waterproof too!
  • 5. Know that you do not need to have everything renovated/purchased at the same time. Take it easy 😊 Honestly, besides the essential renovation such as the electrical planning, light/fans installation and renovation for the MBR, living room, kitchen and toilet etc, we left our 2 extra rooms mostly untouched during the renovation. We did not push ourselves to do everything at the point of renovation with our main con, as we already ruled out built-in carpentry for the rooms with the thought of keeping the rooms flexible in terms of usage and layout. Built-in carpentry usually costs more, loose furniture and soft furnishing might do the magic for you as well ;) We also felt that we would understand our needs better after moving in, which could then help us purchase what we really needed.
  • Bonus tip: you can always look on Instagram home community or platforms like HipVan ideas to learn from the experiences of others. Thanks to the sharing of the homeowners in the community, we avoided making mistakes that others did and we are able to learn from the good practices :) However, do remember that aesthetics and beauty are subjective so don’t feel that you need to conform to the latest trends if there are other styles you like. It is an ongoing journey to make your house a home to you and your loved one(s), so take your time to slowly transform your space if you need. You do you :) It is most important that you are comfortable with the home you "created" and the budget is within your means. My husband and I love our home so much because besides it being our safe haven, the amount of effort that we have put in during the renovation process in turn created beautiful and unforgettable memories for us during that period. We hope you enjoy the process of creating your own home while keeping to your budget too! Thanks for attending the Ted talk hahaha 😂 Goodnight!
  • 2 April
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