Renovations are a common headache for first-time home buyers. If you’ve spoken to a contractor or interior designer, you probably know how unpredictable costs can become.
And having pets adds yet another layer of considerations. This week, we talk to a couple about their smart approach to home improvement with pets:
Choose a property with the right possibilities
When D and his partner chose their home, they already knew they wanted a unit that could accommodate an open concept. Its main requirements were space and light.
“The space must be well thought out. I saw a lot of new developments that didn’t even have space for a kitchen, or a lot of ‘wasted’ space in the form of rooftop gardens for penthouses, ”says D.
“If we are not able to install awnings over these spaces due to MCST façade rules, they usually end up a total waste of space due to our insane heat, and that’s a lot of work to do. maintain, as they are exposed to the elements. “
Natural light was also a priority, as this is one of the main reasons for using an open concept. D says:
“There must be enough light to open up the space. And if the windows are tinted in weird colors like green or blue, with MCST not allowing us to change, then that’s a big no-no. “
“In this case, older, smaller projects without an in-house MCST office are generally more relaxed when it comes to facade issues, especially if the current units have already changed the original facade accessories.”
You can see this from outside a development – if you already see a lot of different window layouts, you can be reasonably sure the MCST will allow it. For new launches, it is best to ask agents how residents will or will not be allowed to customize windows.
Opening up space also meant looking for configurable layouts. D notes that: “Some units do not allow this to happen. This happens when the rooms are not separated by the same wall.
The unit floor plan will also delineate the load-bearing walls. These types of walls cannot be moved, so some layouts are more difficult to customize than others. If there is no floor plan, ask the seller or your contractor; they will have an engineer work for you.
“We decided to go through as many rooms as possible,” says D, “so that the space might seem bigger, because there are only two of us; and we didn’t need that many separate bedrooms. “
“Originally this house had four bedrooms, but now there are only two left.”
Note that the decision to reduce the number of rooms is not for everyone.
Some investors might avoid this, as it limits the number of independent tenants; it could also affect subsequent family buyers, who might prefer having four rooms to two.
But of course, if it is for your own stay, it must be optimized for your comfort.
Go without loans
Interestingly, D and his partner did not use any renovation loans to finance the work. The cost was paid for by the proceeds from the sale of their old home. Likewise, they expect the cost of renovations to be covered if / when the current home is sold.
This saves the usual three to five percent interest rate on a home improvement loan (which, with all banks capped at $ 30,000, isn’t really high anyway).
So if you are upgrading it is worth thinking about the renovation costs when setting your price!
Entrepreneur or interior designer (ID)?
There is a difference between the two. In theory, the ID is supposed to conceptualize the design, propose themes and develop the overall plan for the renovations.
The role of the contractor is to execute the plans, getting the right mix of subcontractors like carpenters, electricians, etc.
In Singapore, however, it is common to find overlaps. For example, some interior design companies also have qualified contractors, and some contractors have designers on their staff.
“Most of the time, we use a trusted carpenter who we’ve worked with for 15 years. He also acts as a contractor for my projects, ”D says,“ But for our last unit such a complete overhaul was needed, and there were a lot of weird corners and pillars that we had to hide. “
“We hired an ID that he worked with so we could still get him to do the carpentry. The ID helps visualize the design. Some contractors / carpenters may also do this, but they may not be able to offer 3D renderings, which was very helpful in helping us visualize our ideas. “
“We actually tried to work with another identifier for a branded company, but it was not as accurate as the one we ultimately chose.”
“The ID we chose worked at a neighborhood store, but it detailed their entire quote and kept us up to date with the details, not bothering us for every issue or issue we encountered along the way. “
“Her background definitely outperformed the young man in the most fashionable identity company. Note, however, that she was no less expensive than the brand identity company!”
ALSO READ: $ 40,000 and less: BTO budget renovations of 4 and 5 rooms
Carpentry is expensive, but it is one of the most essential parts
D says nothing costs the cheapest, but carpentry costs the most.
“We weren’t surprised by this as we needed a lot of carpentry for storage and to hide corners and pillars which were difficult to install and build.”
“I blocked off part of a weird sloping wall in my bedroom with my walk-in closet, so it could become regular again.”
“My carpenter built a door at the back of the closet so I could access the area I was hiding, and it’s now a place to store luggage and other bulky items that I don’t need.
It is always ideal to have pieces of regular shape; but if you don’t, this is where good entrepreneurs can shine. Look for creative ways to use the little nooks and crannies.
However, if your budget is tight, you may want to focus on methods other than carpentry (especially in this Covid-19 era, where more expensive local carpenters tend to be called upon rather than their Malaysian counterparts. quality of work is comparable!)
Choosing renovations with pets in mind
D and his partner knew they would have at least two dogs at some point. This led to different considerations in the renovation choices:
“One important thing we would look at would be the flooring,” says D. “It has to be easy to maintain, and more importantly, it has to be able to give dogs some traction so they don’t lose their footing.”
“In that sense, marble is probably the worst, because although it cools down it stains very quickly and doesn’t offer enough grip, especially for my older dogs.”
“Our current tiles not only give them the traction they need, but the color also hides the fact that the floor is probably very well covered with fur during the moulting season.”
The contractors we spoke to also suggested some forms of textured vinyl, which can also provide traction and are easy to clean.
However, it does not provide the same aesthetic feeling as high end ceramic tiles.
Another area of concern was the stairs, as well as the barriers:
“Our stairs also need to be carpeted, so they can go up and down the stairs safely. This means that professional carpet cleaners should also be engaged from time to time. “
“Pet safety can also mean making sure your home has window grills or mesh, especially if you have cats, or front door barricades, if you have entertainers. escape for dogs. “
By the way, pet owners often assume that downstairs units are safer (especially for cats or other animals that like to climb windows). However, keep in mind that it is much easier for pets to run out of the house as soon as the front door is opened.
The best setup is usually a ground floor unit, where there is an enclosed lobby. That way your dog won’t be able to drag you into a chase all over the condo (or more dangerously, hit the road).
What would D change if she could?
Overall, the renovations went smoothly, D and her partner were able to move in on time, and only after two moves (well planned, as most homebuyers take about three or four moves!)
The only thing D could consider changing is:
“I probably would have protested a little more by using smart switches. I am not inclined to use the app to operate my devices; the blinds tripped my whole circuit several times. But the switch panels look pretty cool. “
“It can be scary, however, if my husband accidentally controls devices remotely while he is at work and I am at home.”
“It’s strange that the lights suddenly come on or that the washing machine starts by itself …”
We assume that sometimes smart home features can be more original than practical.
But on that note, pet owners could get extra mileage from the good smart home features – such as monitoring animals at work or the ability to turn on air conditioners from the office (important for some dog breeds, in Singapore tropical heat).
This article first appeared in Stacked houses.