November 15, 2022
November 15, 2022

“I Regret Spending $11,000 On My Kid’s Bedroom” 6 Painful Renovation Regrets Shared By Homeowners

Design Stories

“I Regret Spending $11,000 On My Kid’s Bedroom” 6 Painful Renovation Regrets Shared By Homeowners


hdb budget renovation 8 1
6 min read

Just like buying a home, the renovation process is one that is hard to reverse. It can be extremely costly (having to redo all the cabinetry), or just very disruptive to daily life (especially when you have little ones at home).

Sometimes it’s really due to the inexperience of what you want from your first home, or just a gradual lifestyle change that your old home doesn’t quite fulfil anymore. There are lots to learn from those who’ve gone down the renovation path before, so here are some of the things to watch for:

1. Overspending on the nursery 

Angie’s experience dates back to the 2000s, but her warning to expecting parents still applies: “Children outgrow the nursery faster than you think.”

When Angie was expecting her first child, she and her spouse went overboard, spending an estimated $11,000 on the kid’s bedroom alone. This included a smart lighting system, which could be controlled anywhere from her phone, a custom ceiling mural, and themed wallpaper. The room included a crib and a custom-built bed for later, which she had the designer follow from a magazine (it was built like a castle for them). 

Tenet 66 3 Bedroom Premium Study second common bedroom nursery

Angie says apart from the smart lighting system, it was all gone in less than six years. She said the worst part was the wallpaper, because: 

I think Singapore weather is just bad for it. You alternate between the heat and the air-con, so it doesn’t last. And once it’s damaged or there’s patching, it’s really ugly, but it’s too expensive to replace the whole thing. So after three years only, we tore it all away.”

The bed was damaged and discarded (because they couldn’t easily repair a custom job), and the mural was painted over because it was out of place once the wallpaper was gone. 

Angie says that, in hindsight, they may as well have made it a regular bedroom with a crib in it. That would have lasted the entirety of their stay. She also doesn’t feel the décor or themes made much difference to her child’s comfort:

We assume that’s the sort of décor children like, but in my experience, they don’t really care.” 

2. Introducing a supplier as their family friend, and pressuring the contractor to buy through them 

M had a unit renovated at Kingsford Waterbay back in 2018; and at the time, he had a family friend who ran a lighting fixtures shop. He didn’t want to point fingers, but he did say it’s “one of the shophouse spaces around the Geylang area.”

He immediately pressured his contractor to speak to the family friend, about all the lighting supplies. He said: 

On four separate occasions, the contractor came to ask me if I wanted to have a look at different suppliers or shops. I kept thinking he wanted to push me to a place where he would get commissions, so I shut him down right away. 

Each time he asked if I was sure, and now I recall he said ‘prices may be different’. But I wasn’t even listening. So in the end we used my family friend for all the lighting fixtures.”

A few months down the road, M was at his colleague’s new house for Deepavali, when he noticed they had the same lighting fixtures. After he made an inquiry, he found out his colleague had paid “about 20% less” for the lighting. 

M then realised that his contractor was trying to raise his awareness, that his family friend was in fact pricier than most shops. 

But the contractor never directly came and told me this. I feel this was my fault though, as I had been so insistent and said the shop owner was my friend. I think he was trying to be tactful, without outright saying my friend was expensive. 

I wish he’d been more direct, but I admit it’s mostly my fault for not wanting to check.” 

3. Converting two rooms into a single bigger bedroom 

Doris and her partner are lifelong singles; so when they made renovations in 2009, they made the decision to merge two rooms into a single larger bedroom for themselves. 

5 room improved open kitchen

Doris says it made sense at the time, as it also allowed for a walk-in wardrobe; and they didn’t need the room for other purposes like children or rental. However, this came back to bite them when they sold their unit in November of 2020:

We had three offers and for two of them, the agent commented that the buyers would have preferred if we had left the rooms separate. 

The painful part is, we can’t say we were not warned. The contractor we hired already cautioned that most future buyers may be families, who will prefer having an additional room. He even said that investors will also prefer that, because they may rent out to tenants. 

Now the buyers would have to hack away the walk-in and build back the partition; that made our unit less attractive than a similar one a few floors below us. In the end we got about the same price as the unit downstairs, even though ours is on the higher floor.”

Read this next first time condo buyer

4. Over-customisation of the kitchen, to each specific appliance 

L owns a landed property in the Siglap area and enjoyed the ability to configure every aspect of her home. However, she went overboard with the kitchen, and now struggles with her decision:

To me, the joy of landed is that you can change everything to how you like; and I made a bad decision to customise the cabinetry and layout of my kitchen to every appliance. 

The specific slots for the washer/dryer, fridge, the countertops, were all built around my appliances at the time. Now I realise: how stupid. Twice now when I wanted to replace the fridge, it wouldn’t fit in the slot, and I had to put the fridge in the service yard instead. Now I have one ugly blank space where the fridge should be standing.

Now most recently I had to replace the washer/dryer, and again it wouldn’t fit. I will never do something so short-sighted again.”

hdb budget renovation 5

As an aside, L says to pay attention to the gap between countertops and overhead cabinetry. “I definitely had the overhead cabinets too large, and the space between them and the countertops is too narrow already. 

Sometimes when my maid is washing the plates, she can actually bump her head against the edge of the cabinet.” 

5. Feature wall built around a specific television screen 

Joseph said that back in the 2010’s, a feature wall for the TV was the norm; and every interior designer he met pitched the idea. However, he plans to have his feature wall hacked away at the end of this year, and “we’ll never do another one ever again.”

Houzitgoing 16
A more flexible layout

For the past few years, Joseph had to live with an ugly white space around his television set. This was because his original TV broke, and when he replaced it with a smaller one, it left huge gaps in the feature wall. 

Even if the gap wasn’t there, Joseph describes the feature wall as “a total mess,” as faux-stone was obscured by cables and wires that ran from the TV to various game consoles, sound systems, and the wi-fi. 

He advises that you just set up a TV in a near corner, and not bother with building a pricey display around it. 

6. Renovating for mum’s comfort, even when she’s not living there 

A says that, when he renovated his unit two years ago, his mother was expected to be a frequent visitor. 

She was enthusiastic about raising her grandkids, so we changed a lot of the reno details to suit her. We actually enlarged the stove to have more burners and so forth, because she liked to cook for the whole family. This was despite our new unit coming with a stove, so it’s quite wasteful frankly. 

We also changed the toilet to include a sitting ledge for her, removing our bathtub to make room for it. We changed the kitchen to an enclosed kitchen and expanded it to have a bigger dining space in the kitchen. 

Fast forward to today and how? Our kids are the ones who go over to my mum’s place instead! Because my mum has issues with her knee and can’t travel too much.

Now I have no bathtub, which I enjoy by the way, and I have a giant stove when the only thing I cook most days is IndoMee.” 

A’s advice is to renovate for yourself, and don’t make too many concessions for parents or in-laws (unless they really are moving in with you). 

For some other homeowners’ stories and regrets to watch for, follow us on Stacked. We’ll cover the small details that are often missed-out so you can make the best-informed decisions.