Home Improvement on a Budget for an SMDC Condo Unit

I figured I will turn this into a series of posts and this is Part I. Since I started several topics on real estate and budgeting, I decided to also share how my home improvement journey whilst saving money and paying off my loans.

After a year of living in my bare, unfurnished condo unit, I still didn’t save up enough money to start the renovation that I planned when I moved-in. I resorted to applying for a personal loan, and I got Citibank‘s approval within three days.

I got a bit too excited so I went ahead and I started with a budget of Php100K. From reading different blogs and inquiring from several contractors on Facebook, I already had an idea on what I could get with this amount. I first started by listing down what I wanted.

I knew I had to be realistic, so I ended up crossing out some “wants” from my list. When I asked for a quote from a contractor, I was disappointed (but not surprised) when he confirmed that my budget can only cover the following:

Overhead cabinet – Php16,800
Counter cabinet – Php15,000
Display cabinet – Php8,400
Closet – Php28,000
Partition wall – Php14,000
Repaint – Php14,000

TOTAL – Php96,200

This is a 2018 quotation so add around 5%-10% if you are reading this in 2020.

I originally planned to dismantle a portion of my kitchen countertop, but because I did not want to pay for the construction bond, I ditched the idea. That meansย we had to install cabinets on that part which have added more to the costs.

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And because everything was prefabricated and the scope of work was only described as “installation”, we also had to get rid of the repainting job.

I shelled out Php100,000 in total.

If you are planning to have your condo unit renovated, always include the construction bond in your budget. The bond normally ranges from Php20,000 to Php50,000 depending on the scope of work. This was not part of my budget so we had to make sure that everything is done in a day; the building Engineer did not approve more than that unless I pay the construction bond.

Here are some tips when looking for a contractor to renovate your condo with a very tight budget:

1. Check for contractors who have already done construction works preferably in other units in your complex. Their familiarity with how the process works in your building would be a big help. They would often post photos of their projects on Facebook and you could find them there when searching for the name of your building or residence.

2. Ask for a quote. Majority would ask for your budget so be upfront about that. Contractors would want to “adjust” to your budget. Note that lower costs would not only mean smaller work scope but cheaper materials as well.

3. Look for sample works, it’s very easy to find them on social media these days. Check for customer feedback or comments. If you cannot find them on Facebook, they are either just starting up which is not bad, or they are so hide-end that you can only speak to them by appointment.

4. Prioritize. Write down everything that you want and need along with their approximate costs. Then slowly remove the ones that you could let go for now until what is left meets your budget. In my case, I removed the drop ceiling and pin lights from my list.

Moving on, here are some before and after photos of my unit after the minor renovation:No full bedroom photo yet until I get a new bed. ๐Ÿ™‚

Hiding half of the exposed beam with a customized cabinet was my first requirement. I might turn the other half in to a TV stand slash accent wall.
I originally wanted to get rid of the protruding end of the kitchen countertop, but I did not want to pay any fee to the building admin so we kept it. Thankfully, I like the finished product.
Almost a full view of my unit. I’m having my dining set customized and won’t be delivered until the end of next month, I’m using my old table for now. Lots of work to be done in my living room too.

So, I have all white walls and ceilings. I see them as a blank canvass which I’ll be working on for the next few months. This will put to test whatever is left of what I learned from my Architecture days. I started with basic furnishing, and I went all Scandinavian with my choices.

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