BTO vs Resale Flat: How Much Should You Be Budgeting For Renovation?


2015 wasn’t exactly a stellar year for property in Singapore. With both home sales and prices dropping steadily, buyers are now standing ready to pounce on any good deals that come their way. However, if there’s one thing you can be sure is not going to drop, it’s the cost of renovation. And when it comes to budgeting for it, not taking into account the right factors can be costly. Our friends at Qanvast share some insights here on the differences between renovating a resale and BTO flat:

There is a common misconception that renovating a resale and a BTO costs almost the same. However, we beg to differ. Here’s why and what goes behind renovating a resale and a BTO apartment.


Renovation for a new flat
An empty floor plan that lets you design your home, BTOs usually comes unfurnished, and there are options for add-on, such as flooring. As such, you need to fill up the empty spaces from scratch.


A good budget to start with would be in the range of $20,000 to $50,000, depending on the area size, and how extensive the renovation works. Remember, the larger the area, the likely it will be more expensive. Also, flooring and carpentry tend to be more costly than other items in a renovation quote, so if you have a tight budget, your best bet is to minimise carpentry work, or go for the flooring options from HDB.


Renovation for a resale flat
When it comes to resale, the extent of renovation depends on the condition of the house. If the unit is relatively new or had undergone a renovation recently, then there isn’t a need to do a major overhaul, unless you decided to splurge to live in a home design that you truly like.


If the unit has been around for more than 20 years, there is a stronger need for modification due to wear and tear, and for hygiene purposes. As such, additional costing such as teardown, hack, and/or replacement works may be required.

Typically, these are the areas to consider for renovation in a resale flat:

  • Flooring (if the flat has been around for 20-30 years, it’s recommended to replace kitchen and bathroom floorings for hygiene purposes)
  • Structural works such as wet works and rewiring

A comfortable baseline would be, the structural works of flooring, rewiring and wet works could easily set you at $20,000 to $30,000. The bigger the area size, the more expensive it will cost. Including the major renovation, a comfortable budget to buffer would be $50,000 to $90,000.

Note: all costs stated here exclude furnishings and appliances


Budget hacks
Always do your renovation research so that you understand what you are paying for in your renovation. If you need a price list on the various works behind a renovation, check out our price guide here.

  • Salvage what you can instead of discarding and replacing in a resale flat
  • Think of the style you’re going for. Styles like Scandinavian are more cost-efficient as they use mainly loose furniture – this means less money spent on carpentry. The industrial theme tends to have more customised works. For example, a sliding barn door would cost more than a typical sliding door.
  • Pick a style that you can live in for the next 5-10 years


While it’s good to adhere to your budget, there is no need to be obsessed with being too cost-efficient. Afterall, a home is your love nest so create a space you’d love to be in, at least in the next 5 years!

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