November 17, 2022
November 17, 2022

A $45,000 HDB Renovation Breakdown: A Couple Shares Their Reno Costs And Furnishings

Renovation Journeys

A $45,000 HDB Renovation Breakdown: A Couple Shares Their Reno Costs And Furnishings


jake emma houes 1
6 min read

For first-time homeowners looking to renovate their home, it’s often like navigating a maze. From choosing the right ID, to knowing how to compare quotes, or just trying to figure out if you are getting fleeced – it’s hard to know who to trust or what is right.

One way to do so is through the community of homeowners who are sharing about their renovation breakdown on social media.

(We’ve also done 2 of such posts before: A $48,000 HDB Renovation Breakdown: A Couple In Their 30s Shares Their Renovation Journey and An $80,000 HDB Renovation Breakdown: How This Couple Achieved A Cosy Dark Modern Theme At Home)

This time, we speak to Jake and his wife Emma who have very helpfully shared their entire renovation cost on YouTube (you can watch it here).

Here’s the detailed breakdown of their renovation cost:

Cement screeding$2,500
Overlay tiles in common bathroom $2,800
Overlay tiles in master bathroom $2,900
Electrical installation $3,400
Vinyl flooring inovar white house $4,300
Protection cardboard $400
Tv console $1,000
Shoe cabinet $900
Mirror door $360
Carpentry with blum hinges in kitchen and dry pantry $4,300
Silestone quartz in kitchen and dry pantry $1,700
Crystal white glass backsplash $1,300
Headboard and suspended side tables $2,700
Wardrobe $3,300
Common bathroom vanity cabinet and silestone quartz top $780
Master bathroom mirror cabinet, vanity cabinet and silestone quartz top $1,800
Shower screen common bathroom $230
Shower screen master bathroom $530
Bedroom doors $1,100
PD door $580
Glass sliding door $990
Mirrors $1,300
Aluminium window $800
Nippon paint gray cotton $1,900
Plumbing $1,600
Acid wash $230
Haulage $380
Cleaning $330

They’ve broken it down along with the accompanying shots to show for each line item, so check the video out here (along with their furnishing costs).

Modern minimalism as a theme

Jake and Emma describe their theme as modern minimalism:

We like that it is a classic and timeless design that will not go out of style, and will likely age well with time. We like to be in a calm, soothing environment where we can relax and call it home after a busy day of work.”

jale emma living

A common question here is how a design can be called both modern and timeless. Queries with Interior Designers clarify that the meaning of modern, in this context, is to be “perennially modern” (i.e., the style will always look up to date, even decades from now). This is a different meaning from modernist design, which suggests a theme specific to that era. 

Jake and Emma sought inspiration from a wide range of sources, before settling on the design:

We have gotten a lot of inspiration from Pinterest images and YouTube home tours. It took us a long time to decide on a single theme, as we had to settle with one that both of us were comfortable with. We considered Industrial to be too strong a concept, while Scandinavian is a tad too ‘woody’, so we settled on one that was simple, elegant and pleasing to the eye.”

Many home owners start and stop at the options presented by a sales designer; but it’s worth looking around for other sources. An oft-neglected source, by the way, are movies, TV, Netflix dramas, etc. If you see an interior you like, pause it and screen cap the image – your interior designer may be able to come up with something similar, or even located the exact furnishings used. 

Home owners can also search by image, to uncover the names, brands, and materials in various images. 

The living room took the most effort to renovate 

Jake and Emma say that for the most work done, “It would have to be the master bedroom. 

We have a custom-made headboard with suspended bedside tables, to complement our king-sized bed…We also employed glass works such as a tinted panel wardrobe with built-in lighting, and a sliding glass door for the en-suite bathroom to exude a sense of luxury. 

It was not easy to build a sliding glass door in our unit layout, as we had to shift the electrical points, accommodate the air-con trunking and plan for the locking mechanism of the sliding glass door.

These carpentry and glass works required very precise measurements and planning to be done beforehand, and the various contractors needed to be well-coordinated.”

jake emma master

Some tweaks had to be made though, such as with a glass sliding door:

The initial plan was to get a glass sliding door from Hafele as we like the door mechanism, but unfortunately it was out of stock during the height of the Covid pandemic due to supply chain issues.

 As a result, the contractors had to fabricate the door on their own with a different mechanism, which did not allow the aircon trunking to be installed above the sliding door. We would have preferred the Hafele mechanism.”

Budgeting for the renovations 

Jake and Emma say that:

We started off with a budget of $40,000 for the renovation and $100,000 for the overall spending on the house. As this is our first home, we wanted to create a cosy space that did not compromise on comfort. We purchased almost all the furniture and electronics by the time we moved in. Overall, we spent about $90,000 which was within the initial budget.”

A common question we’re asked is how much home owners should spend on renovations. Till today, there is no solid answer – the amount varies based on the theme you prefer. The only consistent point is that most expect to spend at least $30,000 (not inclusive of furnishings). 

This is probably because renovation loans top out at $30,000 or six months of your income (whichever is higher). This is the same across all banks, so most contractors, designers, home owners, etc. tend to assume figures just above this $30,000 sum; but it’s still far from a universal rule. 

jake emma reno breakdown

It helped that Jake and Emma had a clear plan:

It was very exciting to see our house being built one step at a time. We never knew how much work was needed to create a home of our dreams.

We were very involved in the entire process as we were clear on what we wanted for our home. We also wanted to quickly rectify issues with the renovation when there were hiccups along the way.”

The more vague your vision for your home, and the less hands-on you are, the more costly the renovation tends to be. This is due to costs incurred from last minute changes toward materials, colour, scale of work, etc. 

Also, home owners who are too “hands off”, or are not easily contactable, will slow the process: they aren’t around to answer vital questions, such as what to do when the MCST complains about the sound, or whether to switch suppliers when costs rise. 

Try to be in touch with your designer or contractor throughout – at the very least, ask for a daily or monthly update.

Key tips for other home owners

The couple has the following advice for other home owners: 

The home should be designed according to your lifestyle habits. Go for functional designs that make practical sense, because a beautiful Pinterest design may make little sense once you implement it. An example will be hanging pendant lights at the bedside that may pose a hazard when you are getting on and off the bed.

jake emma houes 1

During our renovation, we underestimated the value of having drawers in the kitchen. After we started using the kitchen, we realized that the cookware and appliances are not easily accessed. Invest in drawers for your kitchen cabinets as it is more practical in the kitchen for convenience.”

For Singaporeans, it’s quite common for the kitchen to also operate as a dining room, or even the room for homework/tuition. If this is true for your family, you may want to consider features like a kitchen island, which can significantly expand the room’s versatility (while adding more drawers and other storage). 

Do check out the video on YouTube and special thanks to Jake and Emma for taking the time to share this with us. You can follow us on Stacked for more home buyer journeys and trends. We’ll also provide you with in-depth reviews of Singapore’s new and resale projects alike. 

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