A Guide to Managing Your HDB Renovation Budget

Ohmyhome Apr 25, 2017

Because most resale HDB flats in Singapore have already been lived in, it may come with a possible disadvantage that many often encounter: units are personalised to the previous owner’s tastes, not yours.

That said, you may see renovating as a viable option, but just the thought of having to spend so much to do so may keep you from actually pursuing it. You may think it’s not worth it after all.

We’re here to argue that it is – think of home renovation not as a cost, but as an investment. It doesn’t have to be extremely expensive, either. There are ways in which you can maximise your budget to ensure that you get the most bang for your buck.

Here’s our quick guide on managing your HDB’s renovation budget:

Assess the costs and prepare

HDB Singapore Managing Renovation Budget Costs and prepare

After planning out the changes you want to enact, the next step would be to get an estimate on how much your remodeling will cost. The best way to do that would be to contact multiple contractors and get at least three quotations in order to get an average idea of how much it’ll run you.

Keep in mind though that HDB owners are required under the Housing & Development Rules to only engage professionals who are licensed as HDB Registered Renovation Contractors – most of which can be found within the official government website. (www.hdb.gov.sg > Living in HDB Flats > Home Renovation > “Looking for Contractors”)

Alternatively, you could also call the toll-free HDB Branch Service Line at 1800 – 225 5432.

Remember to consult with your contractor regarding your plans itself too, seeing as it may be significant enough to require a Renovation Permit. There are other factors to consider as well; take a look at this page for a complete guide on renovation requirements to ensure that you don’t do any unauthorized work.

Set a budget wisely

This is one of the most important parts when it comes to setting up your renovation. Place a specific limit on how much you’re willing to spend, then stick to it. Assess your materials, manpower requirements, project timelines and make sure that they are all priced properly.

Another easy way to keep your prices in check is to ask your friends or family about similar renovations they have had. Learn from their experience, then forge your own plans with that knowledge as the foundation.

To avoid overspending, stick to this universal rule: keep your renovation costs down to only 20% – 30% of your unit’s market value so that there’s a higher chance for a return on investment in the future should you decide to sell.

Separate your needs and wants

What you need and what you want can often vary wildly, and the price gap between the two can mean the difference between overspending and staying on budget. That said, do your best to rein your expenses in. Don’t get anything you don’t really need, and try your best to stay on the practical side of things.

Also, at this stage it’s important that your truly learn the concept of adequacy. Unless you’re willing to shell out the enormous budget usually needed for what’s considered to be the “best” option, then you’re better off getting anything else – as long as it works, and it works well.

Don’t get pressured into thinking that you always have to go for the most expensive option. Instead, do your research and find a nice balance between quality and price.

Manage the project continually

Once you’ve gone through the previous two steps, then it’s time to plan your project out. Begin by clearly establishing your expectations: set a concrete, detailed budget and a timeline for completion.

This is the stage when knowing how your funds are flowing are at its most important. If you’re doing all the work yourself, then make sure to keep all your receipts so you can keep track of everything you’ve paid for. Otherwise, ask for a daily breakdown of costs and always have a contingency fund available – just in case.

By keeping away at least 20% of your total budget away, you’re ensuring that you don’t run into any extra costs, and thus you avoid the all-too-common pitfall of overspending.

Take advantage of efficient designs

HDB Singapore Managing Renovation Budget Efficient Design

As the old saying goes, “work smart, not hard.” The same logic can be applied to your improvements. For example, should you want to make your space look bigger, you could get space-saving furniture or fixtures instead of paying someone to bust a wall down.

Go D.I.Y (Do-it-Yourself)

Alternatively, if you’re the handy type, you could also try doing things yourself. Take on the easier tasks such as: painting the walls, putting up the shelves, or even assembling some of the (pre-made) furnishings yourself as it could help you save in labor costs.

However, make sure to do your research beforehand to avoid mistakes and end up spending more for recovery.


Home renovation is notorious for being a time-consuming, expensive, and labor-intensive activity. However, as long as you are able to manage it properly, the payoff is definitely worth it.

Ohmyhome is here to help with our Fixed Rate HDB Agent Services if you need more assistance:

Or you may call us at 6886 9009 to secure an appointment today.

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