From masonry works to carpentry, you think you might have gotten everything allocated under your home renovation budget. But have you? These lesser known renovation costs are often overlooked and might just set you over budget.
1. Defects Checking
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For new homes, one of the first things you have to do is to conduct a thorough defects check of your unit. While most homeowners take it upon themselves to do their own inspection, it is recommended you engage a professional to do so. This will set you back some few hundred dollars in your renovation budget.
Engaging a professional—one who has specific knowledge and experience in building construction and engineering—will help you save potential headache and repair costs in the long run.
Besides the usual surface checks, these companies conduct more in-depth ones such as a water ponding test to see if there are areas that are prone to water ponding and if the water sources are flowing smoothly towards the floor traps. Wiring tests are also conducted to see if the outlets are properly grounded. Most firms do a three-visit inspection, which includes mapping out the defects, running through defects with the developer, and a follow-up visit to see if the defects have been rectified.
There are several companies out there that offer this specialised service, but as this industry is not regulated, it is essential that you do a proper check on the company’s background before engaging them. Some interior design firms provide free defects inspection when you engage them, but as a word of caution, most interior designers do not have the requisite experience or knowledge in this area so it’s still recommended that you hire a specialised company to do the defects check.
Cost: For 4-room flats, prices can range from $320 to $450. For condos with approximately 600 square feet or less, prices can range from $280 to $350.
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Your contractor or interior designer will need to use water and electricity during the renovation. So make sure they are switched on before the start of the renovation work. While there are a number of open electricity retailers to choose from now, you will still need to set up your utilities account with SP Services first. This isn’t free, and should be taken into account when you do up your renovation budget.
Opening a utilities account can be done at the SP Services customer service centre at HDB hub during your BTO key collection or it can be done online. A security deposit (billed in your first utility bill) is required to open an account and the amount is determined by your housing type, citizenship status as well as whether you are paying your bills by Giro or not.
As mentioned, renovation works require water and electricity. Workers will need to power up their tools while water is needed for cleaning and washing. You are likely to incur costs in your utilities bill even if you haven’t actually lived in your home, so make sure you set aside some budget for the surge in utility bills in the months of your renovation, even if you haven’t moved in.
Cost: A security deposit of $40 to $800 for opening a utilities account + around a couple of hundred for utilities every month of your renovation
3. City Gas Installation
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If you are opting for piped town gas, you will need to contact CityGas to install your gas pipes. The pipe installation is preferably done before constructing your kitchen carpentry. Make sure you know where your cabinetry, hob and hood will go beforehand.
The first visit by CityGas will be the actual pipe installation. Once your kitchen carpentry is fixed and your appliances are installed, CityGas will come by again to connect your hob to the gas pipe and turn on the gas supply.
This isn’t a free service and you will be charged a fee that is billable in your first bill. For homeowners in resale homes where you will want to remove/alter the original gas pipe, a separate fee is charged. Keep that in mind when allocating your renovation budget
Cost: Installation, alteration or removal of gas pipe will cost you $70, while turning on the gas supply with a pre-installed appliance will set you back $50. Costs are not inclusive of GST
4. Unexpected Issues
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No matter how hard you plan, things can go wrong during an actual renovation. For instance, you might need to source for alternative materials when supply is out. Or a particular fitting needs to be replaced because of wrong measurement calculations. Allocating at least 10% of your entire renovation for such setbacks will keep your renovation budget on track.
Cost: 10 to 20% of your budget
5. Shipping Fees
While getting furnishings and fittings online from sites like Taobao or Ezbuy will definitely help you save money, you might be slapped with a huge shipping fee that will cut into your budget. This is especially true if you’re getting a larger or heavier item like a toilet as shipping rates from these popular sites go by weight. Do budget in potential shipping fees and buy in bulk whenever you can from the same source to minimise costs.
6. Electrical Points
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You might have budgeted for your fittings and even included the installation costs, but have you overlooked the costs needed to set up various electrical points such as lighting points or power outlets? Do note that you will need a power point with higher amps for air-conditioners, heaters and washers so installing a point for these will cost more.
Cost: A lighting point starts from $45, while a single power point can go from $80. Power points for air-con, heater and washer start at approximately $120
7. Chemical/Acid Wash + General Cleaning
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Renovation works are messy jobs. Dirt smears, workmen’s boot prints and leftover wood shavings aren’t going to clean themselves. Most interior designers or contractors will provide a general clean-up after everything is done and the fee incurred will be included in your renovation contract.
If you do any floor tiling works, an acid wash or chemical wash will also be included. A particular strong acid is used to wash away stubborn stains on your tiles caused by either cement or paint that cannot be removed with water. Do make sure the acid wash is done before any carpentry works or the installation of stainless steel appliances as the acid used is likely to discolour or damage them.
Cost: An estimated $150 to $400
8. Haulage Fees/Debris Removal
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With renovation works, come debris. If you have an HDB flat, do check with your Town Council if they provide haulage and debris removal services (more likely if it’s a new BTO). Fees are payable directly to the person you engage from the Town Council. If your Town Council doesn’t provide this service or if you own a private home, it will likely be an additional fee included by your interior designer in your contract.
The amount you have to fork out depends on the scope of your renovation work. Fees can go up if there are a lot of hacking involved and removal of existing structures like kitchen cabinets or wardrobes. This fee will also include transporting materials like sand and raw cement.
Cost: Approximately $250 to $1,200 depending on your scope of works
9. Post-Renovation Cleaning Service
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While most contractors and interior designers do a general cleaning post renovation, you might want to do a more thorough clean-up of your entire home before moving in. Sure, a lot of homeowners DIY this step, but if the thought of cleaning up your new place sounds like too much of a hassle, especially after a stressful renovation period, you might want to set aside an amount in your renovation budget to hire someone else to do it for you.
Most post-renovation cleaning services include wiping down the interior and exterior of your built-ins, cleaning of windows and grilles, vacuuming and mopping of floors, dusting of furniture and wiping down fittings like your sinks and toilets.
Cost: Prices for 4-room HDBs can go from $180 to $260 for a 4-hour job
Having a detailed renovation budget by taking account of every expense will go a long way in helping you keep to it. But it doesn’t mean you won’t go over if you’re not careful. By keeping track of any expenses along the way, it helps to make sure you are sticking to the budget and not overspending.
This article was originally posted on Renonation.sg, Singapore’s leading renovation and interior design site.