Good interior design and renovation need not be expensive

The S$50K challenge – how much we spent

When we started this blog slightly more than a year ago, our goal was to spend S$50,000 or less on renovating our second-hand 1550 sq ft condo unit.

Main renovation work took place between Feb – May 2014, and we moved in late May 2014 with an incomplete kitchen. The kitchen was only fully done at the end of June 2014. Our budget of S$50,000 was for the main renovation work and appliances needs, including:

  • Wall hacking, retiling, cost of tiles, cement work
  • Plumbing, electrical re-wiring needs
  • Existing parque floor polishing labour costs
  • Re-painting the entire house
  • Electrical appliances
  • Furniture
  • Lighting

There was of course a lot of other items that we would need on a daily basis (like a laundry rack) and a few good-to-haves (e.g. cow hide rug, dryer) after we moved in, and it is this bit of the budget that we did not include in the S$50,000 outlay.

The excel spreadsheet I prepared and attached below will give you a pretty accurate breakdown of how we spent our S$50,000. We did overshoot our budget slightly (about $700+). Some items we underestimated the cost, some we overestimated. Some we decided to pay more for quality, such as a better mattress for the kid’s bed. Some we didn’t anticipate at all, such as the PE approval required before we can hack a wall. But overall, we did stick to our budget.

To keep to our S$50,000 budget, we decided to cut some costs by:

  • Buying most of our lightings online (we saved about 60%)
  • Buying a second hand solid wood dining table with 6 chairs on Craigslist from a departing American expat (we were lucky!)
  • Not having a TV in the house – this cuts out recurring monthly cable TV costs, the initial outlay for TV sets and of course, less screen time for kids
  • Buying our designer ceiling fan from Hong Kong where it’s half the price compared to Singapore
  • Using existing furniture and wardrobes instead of new ones

After we moved in, I quickly realized that we were spending a significant amount on miscellaneous items such as pots and pans, cutlery, dryer racks, storage racks, etc. I was constantly running to IKEA or Harvey Norman or whatever was on discount. Some were avoidable, others were spent out of necessity. But these quickly added up to another S$3,645 in our household expenditure within the six months of moving in. These have abated somewhat now that we are more settled in.

So here you go – our breakdown of the $50,000 challenge. And am glad to report – WE DID IT!

(Click below to download the Excel spreadsheet)

BudgetReno – how much we spent breakdown

One comment on “The S$50K challenge – how much we spent

  1. Joe Escobedo
    March 27, 2015

    Wow, your spreadsheet is extremely thorough. But then again, I’d expect nothing less from you. 🙂


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This entry was posted on March 6, 2015 by in Budgets and tagged .
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