Spending money on renovation is similar to investing whose chief aim is to get the most value out of our money.
Most would agree that the renovation journey can be hard especially for a first timer, and harder if you have no clue of what is in store. This post is to share some personal experiences on how to optimize the renovation budget and identifying areas for cost savings in cold hard cash.
As a first step, it is useful to know what covers the standard scope of renovation works. A typical quotation from an interior designer would have the following format
- Demolition Works
- Masonry Works or Wet Works
- Plastering Works
- Plumbing Works
- Aluminium/Door/Glass Works
- Electrical Works
- Ceiling Works
- Carpentry Works
- Painting Works
Except for demolition cost is purely labor, others will be a mix of labor and materials.
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Even when the scope of work is clear, right sizing the budget can be a struggle. Fortunately, there are online platforms like Qanvast and HomeRenoGuru. They provide useful pricing information with nice visuals of completed projects. These can help a homeowner get a feel on the cost for various design themes like scandinavian, contemporary, industrial…etc
While it is important to manage the downside in any investment, the homeowner should also plan for budget overrun which happens in most cases due to unforeseen developments. Possible causes are hidden costs not known upfront, design changes or additional requirements requested during renovation.
Hence, upsizing the budget to a range between 10- 20% will be safe.
It is useful to reconstruct the quotation to give a different view useful to yield new insights, e.g. price differences and essential items not included.
In the below example, huge price gaps were observed for the tiling works on wall and floor, and also top cabinet. These could due to material differences or even a mispricing by one of the IDs.
We also realised that the second ID did not quote for the new chute and dish rack.
|Demolish existing tiles on wall and floor, chute and cabinets||Yes||N/A||1,650||1,875||225|
|Lay wall tile up to ceiling height||Yes||Yes||4,200||3,003||(1,197)|
|Lay floor tile||Yes||Yes||1,980||2,717||737|
|Waterproofing (kitchen & 02 bathrooms)||Yes||Yes||420||300||(120)|
|Construct kitchen cabinet base||Yes||Yes||300||500||200|
|Construct washing machine base||Yes||Yes||80||188||108|
|Construct fridge base||Yes||Yes||80||188||108|
|Supply and install stainless steel piping||Yes||Yes||570||550||(20)|
|Install kitchen sink & tap||Yes||No||120||163||43|
|Supply and install bottom cabinet||Yes||Yes||2,340||2,730||390|
|Supply and install top cabinet||Yes||Yes||1,040||2,730||1690|
|Supply and install quartz worktop||Yes||Yes||2,500||2,535||35|
|Supply and install tile backing between cabinet||Yes||Yes||included||644||644|
|Supply and install new chute||Yes||Yes||220||unknown||(220)|
|Supply and install piping casement||Yes||Yes||380||420||40|
|Supply and install dish rack with frosted glass door||Yes||Yes||160||unknown||(160)|
While it is quite impossible that the ID is able to reduce the prices for every line item, they can give a discount on the whole renovation package which could also result in savings.Performing such analysis can lead to greater price transparency and reduces the risk of cost overrun, especially from hidden costs. Confine the comparison to not more than 3 IDs to avert risking decision paralysis.
Lightings – savings from 40%
Some prefer to buy from Taobao, whose prices are sometimes unbeatable even after including shipping. The downside is when there is a defect or quality issue, where challenges arise for replacement and making warranty claims. To be safe, buy some spares.
Buying lightings from in JB or other parts of Malaysia can also stretch your money. Moreover, every single lighting bought from the store would be tested before payment, hence reducing the risk of defects.
Here is an illustration of the savings comparison for 9W LED Downlight:
|Cost||$12||$7 (conversion S$1=RM3)||$3.80|
Electrical Fans- savings from 50%
Most of the pioneer generation swear by KDK fans, which are well-known for their long lasting reliability. The illustration below shows an attractive savings of 50% when buying KDK fans in Malaysia.
When deciding to buy lightings from Malaysia, include electrical fans in the shopping list since both are likely sold in the same store. Moreover, there could be additional discount from bundling. For those who are keen to know where to buy them from JB can click here.
Electrical home appliances – savings from 10%
Some neighbourhood shops selling home electrical appliances can offer cheaper deals with comparable warranty than big stores like Gain City or Harvey Norman.
To save time, window shop at the big stores to identify the brand and model. Then check out the prices from neighbourhood shops.
GAB– Goh Ah Bee, which is located in Hougang, is well-known for taking calls to check on prices. In addition, they allow order through phone with cash payment upon delivery for most items.
Furnishings – savings up to 50%
They provide concierge or assisted purchase service at a small fee between 4-8% with competitive shipping rates. The agent will take care of the purchasing from multiple sellers, coordinate domestic shipping to a local warehouse, repackaging when necessary, and consolidate the orders for shipment to the buyer.
There could be some substantial savings in shipping costs from ezbuy, who offers Prime shipping subscription – 1 month trial $9.90 or 1 year $99. After subscription, the buyer can enjoy unlimited shipment at flat rate $2.99 per item of any size and weight, delivery either by air or sea door to door. Quite often, ezbuy will run campaigns like ‘Free Agent’ promotion to waive off concierge fee.
In conclusion, a final word is to avoid getting too carried away on value optimizing to overlook the expectations of our loved ones. Especially your better-half who is going to live in this new house. Involve him/her in the journey to better the outcome of this value optimizing exercise.