What are the ten commandments of remodeling an HDB apartment on a budget?

21 February 2022

Singaporean youth often face the problem of personalizing their homes after first-hand or second-hand purchase. The costs of renovation can be high for any young adult in Singapore. It is only reasonable that most homeowners try to minimize the cost of renovations while attempting to realize their dreams of owning their perfect homes.

Budgeting HDB interior design ideas sounds easier than it is in real life. Only someone who already has experience in remodeling apartments in Singapore can provide actionable refurbishing and renovating tips to the new owners. Here’s an expert’s take on budget-friendly renovations of HDB interiors.

  1. Reduce the use of tiles

When we were working out the potential cost of remodeling our kitchen and bathrooms, we realized that the tile work contributed to the maximum of the expenses. Our friends and peers have successfully reduced their renovation budgets since then by going with HDB flats with original flooring they like.

Personally, we liked the flooring in our bedrooms and living room. We did not go for re-tiling, and that saved us a bunch of money. We did go with some cement screed on the kitchen walls. While that is not particularly long-lasting, it is incredibly cost-effective, and they can even reduce indoor temperatures.

Just in case, you are buying a resale HDB apartment, and the tile designs seem too dated, you can consider vinyl floor covers and laminates. The choicest designs do not look cheap, and they are incredibly easy to maintain.

     2. Capitalize on your storage space

Do you already have space for wardrobes? Or, does your apartment come with some form of in-built storage space like small crawl spaces, lofts or cupboards?

Irrespective of which style or design they come in, consider their storage space while taking a look at the HDB flat. In our experience, you can always DIY the finish and design of the wardrobes as long as you already have them in place.

Moreover, try to invest in space-saving furniture. Coffee tables cum storage boxes, box beds, under-window storage boxes, and under-sink cabinets are always helpful if you want to minimize the clutter around the house. Invest in furniture with multiple functions like tables with multiple built-in drawers and beds with accessible storage space underneath.

     3. Cut the cost of air conditioning

Singapore has warm weather, and that’s no secret. The mercury can touch 32-degrees on the afternoon an innocuously chilly morning too. Therefore, air conditioning is essential in any HDB apartment.

However, getting the permits for new AC units and main switches can be cumbersome. Instead, you can think about investing in at least one powerful fan in every room.

People, who have installed ceiling fans often do not require to switch on the AC even during the summer months. You can choose to keep your windows closed if you live near the ground floor, but you will enjoy a constant breeze as long as you keep the fans switched on.

Using ceiling fans in three rooms simultaneously without switching the AC on can cut your energy bill down to $50 per month! That is a smart and cost-effective way of staying environmentally friendly too.

      4. When in doubt, go with white

The simplest trick in the book is to go with white paint. When you are unsure about which color will suit your living room and how it should transition into the open kitchen space, go with white.

One significant advantage is that you can always paint over it later without ugly splotches showing up from the underneath. Another benefit is that white always brightens up small spaces. So you won’t have to spend hundreds on utility bills from keeping lights switched on during the daytime.

Most importantly, white creates a neutral space. You can come home to the repose of serenity without the “noise” of colors and themes that hound people throughout the day in the city.

Besides, white never goes out of style. Therefore, even if you plan to switch up your furniture and furnishing, later on, you won’t have to worry about faux pas and mismatches.

      5. Minimalism will be your best friend

There is a smart way to hide your shoestring renovation budget and portray your aesthetics at the same time. You need to explore minimalist interior designs for your new home that will save you tons, yet delight every visitor.

Apart from choosing styles that offer both added storage space and comfort, you can think about adding small elements from the flea market. For example, everyone has a dresser. You can replace it with a full-length antique framed mirror that you picked up at the second-hand store.

The easiest way to go about acing a minimalist style is by weaning out items from the average HDB home in Singapore. Begin with the living room and slowly work your way towards the bedrooms while removing unnecessary furniture, and furnishing one-by-one.

     6. Cherish those heirloom furniture pieces

Even minimalist décor has a place for heirloom and vintage statement pieces. If you already have an antique chest of drawers or an ottoman, don’t even think about doing away with them.

You just need to find the right places to display them, so when your guests walk in these pieces grab all their attention. We are talking about mahogany coffee tables, cutesy designer stools, and hand-woven throw quilts.

Not everything in your brand new HDB apartment has to be completely new. Find a way to reuse the old stuff from your parent’s home or in-laws place. These can also include lighting fixtures, cutlery sets, mirrors, blankets, and cushions.

This strategy will save you hundreds of dollars without taking away a morsel of your comfort.

     7. Invest in indoor plants

Not a big fan of the plastics? Then try curating your private window garden. Set up succulents and cacti that do not demand much attention, but enliven the place just right.

You can also choose Asian bamboo and bonsai tropical trees that do not demand a lot of TLC but purify the indoor air by releasing tons of oxygen.

Your in-house garden can become the oasis after work and endless meetings. Plants have a cooling effect. They can even reduce your utility bill by cooling your house and purifying the air.

Research shows that indoor plants can improve concentration, performance, and health by over 15%. If you have a busy schedule, choose plants that do not require daily watering or go with automatic watering planters.

       8. Wait before you purchase

When you move into a new home, it makes sense to find and buy the best items you see online or offline. However, if you wait till the End of Season sale for most furniture and furnishing brand, you can save up to 70% on the cost price of these items.

Such items can include curtains complete with curtain rods, couches, sofas and sectionals, beds, storage options, cushions, mattresses, and rugs. Whenever you see something that catches your eye, look for something similar online for a discounted price. It is entirely possible to find locally produced better quality products at half the price when the time is right.

      9. Pick smart appliances

By smart appliances, we don’t just mean devices that can connect to the cloud and “talk” to your voice assistant. We mean household appliances that provide more for less energy consumption.

Check out the best fridge, microwave, and AC, dishwasher and washer-drier combos with the least electricity consumption. While they might cost you a little more than the regular ones, they can save you tons of money in terms of the electricity bill in the long run.

At the same time, invest in water-efficient faucets, showerheads, and bidets. These can cut down the wastage of water by almost half in your home.

You can become a model HDB apartment owner in Singapore by making a small upgrade in your choice of appliances and bathroom fixtures.

    10. Ask when confused

You will have to work with a contracting team that has experience with HDB renovation. That allows you to clarify all your doubts and find out the best possible solutions to all your tiling, flooring, and wall reconstruction, wallpapering, and furnishing problems.

You will need permits for almost each renovation work inside your HDB home in Singapore. The construction team should file for the permit before the work begins. Apart from ensuring that they have proper authorization and an updated license, you should talk face-to-face about your expectations and their quality standards.

The renovation of your HDB home need not be an exuberant affair. You can work on a shoestring budget yet make your new home look like a million bucks like we did by following these ten simple pieces of advice.

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