We constantly need change – that is a fact of life. What you thought was important 10 years ago (or even less than that, if we’re honest) have been replaced by other, more important things.

This is true if you are a long-time homeowner. You might find that the home that you have now is no longer enough to serve your needs. There could be a million reasons for this change: you have a bigger family than intended, or you need to AirBnB out a room for extra income, or you simply need to fix a home feature that has been bugging you. To accommodate your new needs, you are considering home renovation.

A common problem with home renovation is that there are simply too many things that can be improved. As someone with a bank account limit, how do you even begin to start?

Well, you can follow these 3 easy steps.

Step One: Figuring Out What You NEED to VS. WANT to Work On

Broadly speaking, home renovation can fall under one of these categories: Necessary and Would Be Nice. Obviously, the former is more urgent and should be prioritised over the latter.

Necessary home renovations are things you need to work on anyway in order to live in a comfortable, functioning home, as well as to avoid potential hazards. Some examples of necessary home renovations include (but not limited to):

  • Repairing your faulty electrical circuits, leaked plumbing and broken roof (if you have one)
  • Updating your security alarm update (if there is a frequency of break-ins in your area), fire alarm (if you had a fire scare), enlisting pest control services (if you have an infestation), doing re-painting work (if your walls are chipped/destroyed by your toddler), and lawn work (if it is full of weeds and needs major help from someone more green-fingered)
  • Upgrading/adding a room for your child(ren), or parents(-in-law)

Would Be Nice home renovations are everything else. They are, simply speaking, your Pinterest board. Some Would Be Nice home renovations are practical in nature and can improve the value of your home. These are things like new wooden flooring and a kitchen upgrade.

Others are pure ‘wants’, so practice a little self-discipline to avoid going overboard. These could be things like a game room for your husband, a glittery chandelier for your living room, or perhaps your personal walk-in closet (a girl can dream!).

Be honest with your evaluations. A Would Be Nice home renovation should not be confused under Necessary home renovation. It would also help if you rank each of the home renovations based on their priorities.

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Step Two: Paying for Home Renovation

Once you decided what is Necessary and what Would Be Nice, get the quotations – preferably from at least three sources. This makes comparison easier, and you might even get savings on bulk work.

Once you have the quotations, it’s time to crank open your finances to see if you can afford to pay for them

Your first source of funding should come from your own savings, ideally without touching your emergency funds. However, we argue that some Necessary home renovations CAN qualify for a (temporary) dip in the emergency fund – that’s what it was created for.

If you have enough savings for Necessary home renovations, go for it!

If you have enough savings left over for Would Be Nice home renovations, why not! (But don’t go too crazy!)

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Step 3: Raising Money for Home Renovation

If you don’t have the funding for even Necessary home renovations, you decide whether:

  • Necessary home improvements can wait until you saved up for it

One can save money by 1) reducing spending and 2) increasing income; apply your preferred methodologies here.

  • Work out a plan with the contractor

If your contractor is willing, you can try to work out some sort of payment plan that can work for both of you.

  • Find other sources of funding

What should you do for urgent and Necessary home renovations, if you really don’t have the funds for it? For example, you cannot wait to fit that broken pipe – it’s wasting too much water. In this case, you have no other choice but to find other sources of funding.

If you can manage to borrow without interest, either from a friend or a family member, you should follow that route. Make sure you make a concrete plan to pay him/her back as soon as you are able to – no one likes the person who ‘forgot’ they owe money.

If you can’t, you might have to take a personal loan or a credit card advance. Only proceed with extreme caution and only for the most urgent of home renovations. You will likely incur a debt with high-interest rate, so you need to do an action plan to pay it off as soon as you can. Never use this method for Would Be Nice home renovations – that is just poor decision-making.

(Bonus) Should You DIY Your Home Renovation?

The more frugal of you out there might be tempted with another option: the DIY route. There are many tutorials out there for both Necessary and Would Be Nice home renovations. The internet is a beautiful, resourceful place.

We admit that some home renovations are doable if you have the time, tools, and basic skills for it. For example, you can probably paint a room in a day.

Other home renovations are flat-out near impossible without an expert’s help. Never try to install a new toilet if you have no idea which pipe goes where – if you did a poor job, you might end up with a bigger bill for an expert to fix it. Likewise, never touch the electrical circuits if you don’t know what you are doing!

So if you are confident enough you can do a good job, and you have the experience to back up that confidence – yes, why not. If not, leave it to the experts. There is a reason why they are expensive – it’s actually hard to do their work!

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Founder @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is the Advisor (former CEO) of The New Savvy. She is currently the COO of ABZD Capital and the CMO of Gourmet Food Holdings, an investment firm focusing on opportunities in the global F&B industry. She is part of the founding committee of the Singapore FinTech Association and heads the Women In FinTech and Partnership Committee. Anna is the President of the Singapore Management University Women Alumni. Anna invests and sits on the board of a few startups. Anna is also part of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry Career Women’s Group executive committee. Anna’s story is featured on Millionaire Minds on Channel NewsAsia. She hosts TV shows and events, namely for Channel NewsAsia’s “The Millennial Investor” and “Challenge Tomorrow”, a FinTech documentary. Anna was awarded “Her Times Youth Award” at the Rising50 Women Empowerment Gala, organised by the Indonesian Embassy of Singapore. The award was presented by His Excellency Ngurah Swajaya. She was also awarded Founder of the Year for ASEAN Rice Bowl Startup Awards. She was also awarded the Women Empowerment Award by the Asian Business & Social Forum. Anna has been awarded LinkedIn Power Profiles for founders (2018, 2017), Tatler Gen T, The Peak’s Trailblazers under 40 and a nominee for the Women of The Future award by Aviva


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