Newlyweds Wes and Ange have been documenting their home makeover and moving-in journey since the beginning of the year, sharing plenty of helpful tips on their @foongfamilyflat page in the process. We caught up with them to bring you their top money-saving secrets and renovation tips, so before you dive into your BTO renovation and lose all your savings on the wrong purchase, read on for their pockets of wisdom below!
1. Keep carpentry and tiling to a minimum
As the couple shares, carpentry and tiling can be pricey and time-consuming to install. “While it’s nice to build up excess storage in the home, most of the time it’s not needed unless it’s a big family with adults and children,” shares the couple. “For newlyweds, building the minimum for carpentry would be a good start, leaving more budget for movable furniture pieces.”
Wes and Ange also suggest thinking ahead while renovating your first home. “While some young couples may think their first home will be their forever home, lifestyle needs continuously change and we cannot predict our lives. If you ever decide to move, your future home buyers may appreciate the lack of carpentry installed for their ease of renovation. Having movable pieces also safeguards fickle-mindedness and constant change of needs because you can shift things around—unlike fixed carpentry.”
As for tiling, the couple recommends going with vinyl flooring instead when possible, as it’s “super wallet-friendly” and incredibly durable as well.
2. Divide your reno list into must-haves and should-haves
Everyone wants to build their dream home, but it’s crucial to narrow down what you actually need and set aside what would merely be nice to have.
“When discussing with your ID or contractor, ensure that everything on your must-have list is included in the quotation. If there’s room to spend more, add in the should-haves.” This way, you ensure that you get the essentials down before you splurge on the extras. Plus, “pacing yourself can help with decision fatigue as well!”
3. Shop from affordable yet high-quality stores
In order to ensure that you shop well and don’t need to buy the same things over and over, it’s important to strike a balance between affordable and high-quality. When it comes to furniture, Wes and Ange recommend shopping at Grey & Sanders and Commune. “We find their engineered wood really durable and high-quality. The pieces are heavy too, which shows that they are sturdy and well-made.”
4. Invest in quality fixtures, but make peace with leaving them behind
When we asked the couple what their greatest renovation regret is, they found it difficult to pinpoint. “I’d have to say our sanitary fittings,” they finally admitted. However, they would hardly consider it a true regret, because they are loving the high-end fittings from hansgrohe and TOTO.
What makes them regretful is having to let them go if they eventually move house. “I don’t think my future self will be too happy when I sell the house and cannot bring these items with me.” Despite this, Wes and Ange strongly believe in investing in quality products, even if it means leaving them behind during a move. “I’m a huge homebody so I don’t mind spending more if that means more comfort or joy while I’m at home,” Ange shares.
5. Splurge on what matters to YOU
It’s important to assess your own lifestyle before you make renovation plans. Where do you spend the most time at home? Which appliances and furnishings do you access constantly? Those aspects of the home should be your priority while renovating, and the things you allow yourself to splurge on.
“For most people, it would definitely be the bedroom, so it’s pretty common to splurge on a good mattress. For us, we love cooking and baking so we splurged on kitchen appliances as well,” the couple shares. “For those who enjoy streaming TV series and movies, investing in a comfy couch, a nice TV and a good sound system would be appropriate.”
6. Opt for affordable alternatives but spend where it matters
You can often achieve the look you’re going for without spending on the priciest material, such as tiles. “Wallpaper is a great option! These days wallpaper is not just used on walls, but also furniture and sometimes even the floor. It also allows you to change things up if you ever get bored.” Home decor can be bought for cheap, too, as quality isn’t as crucial. “We like to buy from Taobao or Shopee.”
When it comes to furniture and appliances, however, they don’t recommend taking the affordable route. “Most of the time, those well-known brands are expensive for a reason, such as decades of R&D. We have experienced both sides and we would still much rather save up for the reputable brands.”
7. Always ask about discounts and promotions
New homeowners should always keep an eye out for sales, but sometimes you’re in too much of a rush to wait for the next promotion. In that case, “always ask if the shop can offer any discounts, even if there are no ongoing sales. Ask for bundled discounts too if you’re buying a few items at a time.”
If you spend a lot of time on social media, “following shops that you’re already interested in will help you save time on research,” as you’ll be the first one to hear about their sales and discounts.
8. Prolong the lifespan of your appliances
One of the pitfalls of owning a home is having to spend on expensive repairs and replacements. To avoid this as much as possible, “don’t take shortcuts or find alternatives if brands have specific products listed for usage with their appliances,” the couple advises. “For example, most robot vacuum cleaners recommend using their brand-specific detergents and products. Abiding by these guidelines may help to prolong the lifespan of your appliances.”
“Regular cleaning is also important,” they emphasise. “Appliances like air-conditioners and washing machines require regular deep cleaning. It’s a bit like us humans—if we don’t take good care of our bodies, we just might pay more for healthcare in the long run.”
9. Undertake some easy DIY work
While we don’t recommend dismantling your home by yourself, there’s no harm in trying your hand at some easy DIY work, especially if it saves you the money and hassle of getting a professional to do the job. “While we didn’t DIY anything huge in our home, we pasted our own wallpaper in our cat’s room, as well as meshed up our bathroom window on our own. We probably saved hundreds of dollars and it was a fun project to do together as well!”
10. Do more cooking and cut down on drink orders
Once your renovation is complete, you’ll still find plenty of things to splurge on, with food and drinks being one of the most common culprits. Wes and Ange recommend cooking more at home, as well as cutting down on ordering expensive drinks like coffee and bubble tea. Cooking isn’t just about saving money, either. “We usually put in a little more effort into preparing meals at home and the food is likely going to be healthier too.”
Cooking may seem like an unnecessary chore when ordering food is so quick and easy, but it can turn into a lifelong hobby if you spend some time familiarising yourself with ingredients and flavours and planning some new recipes. “We also learned to make our own coffee and matcha at home, so we won’t have to spend $7 per cup outside,” shares the couple.
One thing keeping many homeowners from cooking? The intensive cleaning that follows. If you’d love to cook more but cannot stand washing the dishes, invest in an energy-saving dishwasher. “Energy and water-efficient appliances translate to lower utility bills. We own a dishwasher and it has regularly kept our water bill down.”
Discover more money-saving and renovation tips @foongfamilyflat!