Things To Consider Before HDB Renovation Project

07 Mar 2022

In Singapore, HDB units are the most frequent type of housing. They are unquestionably an iconic aspect of Singapore culture, with over 1,000,000 units distributed over 24 cities and three estates. While there may be limitations on making changes to your HDB apartment, you can certainly do some innovative renovations to make your HDB unit stand out.

Before you hire a contractor for your HDB renovation project, keep the following in mind:

Planning and Budgeting

An average interior design project is not cheap, and cost an average of $30,000 to renovate a 4-room flat. It is important to have some spare budget kept aside for emergency during the hdb renovation ideas.

How much does a hdb renovation singapore cost? Obviously, you need a ballpark figure to know how much you should set aside. But the question is a tough one to answer, because there are so many variables. The ultimate cost of renovation depends on:

  • Type of home: Is it an HDB flat, condo, or landed house? Does it already come with any existing fittings?
  • Its age & condition: The extent and type of renovation work for a brand new BTO and a decades-old resale flat will be very different.
  • How much work you want done: Are you more or less happy with the current state of affairs, or do you want to hack everything and build your dream home from a blank canvas?
  • Type of materials: If you have a taste for atas marble countertops and parquet flooring, expect to pay more.
  • The contractor/ID firm you choose: Different companies charge differently, of course.

Renovation costs for a 4-room HDB flat (approx. 90 sq m) can cost anything from $5,000 to over $100,000, depending on all the factors above.

According to renovation portal Qanvast, the average 4-room HDB BTO flat renovation is estimated to cost about $7,400 to $71,370, ranging from basic kitchen carpentry for a new BTO to a full-on extensive makeover for a resale HDB. But these numbers only the starting point. They don’t mean anything unless you have a better idea of what you want.

In what case would you take a HDB renovation loan in Singapore? Picture this.

Imagine: you’ve picked the best mortgage loan for your home, the next item on your list is renovation. By this time you would perhaps be feeling the financial pinch already and may have withdrawn some of your CPF for the downpayment of your new home.

So how do you fund the cost of renovations for your new property that can easily range between $10,000 and $100,000? Enter HDB renovation loans.

In Singapore, banks provide HDB renovation loans. The interest rates for a renovation loan is by far lower than that of a personal loan, the tenures are shorter at a maximum of only 5 years, with a general maximum loan amount of 6 times your monthly wages and a cap of $30,000.

HDB Renovation Ideas

You can transform your small housing unit into a beautiful space by adding the elements of a contemporary homes. Living in a HDB means having communal spaces; you may not be able to completely transform your exterior because it is a shared space, however, no one can stop you from transforming your interiors to suit your personality and taste.

HDB renovation ideas planning can be challenging due to its limited space. It takes expertise developed over many years of experience to be able to find a balance between aesthetic and functionality while focusing on space optimisation at the same time.

HDB Guidelines

In Singapore, most HDB works are being overseen by the Housing Development Board of Singapore (HDB). The HDB has some rules which has to be adhered to, and that includes applying for a permit and getting approved from HDB before you can start on some of the renovation process.

As we all know, HDB renovation singapore has a lot of rules and regulations for public housing. Here are some rules to bear in mind when you plan your renovation.

Submit all plans to HDB for approval before hacking: Some walls, columns, beams and slabs are load-bearing and cannot be removed, moved or altered. (On your floor plan, these are usually shaded in solid black or grey.)

Other walls, though not load-bearing, hide important wiring and piping and cannot be tampered with. To play it safe, make sure to submit all plans to HDB for approval before any hacking begins.

Pre-packed cement screed: HDB now makes it compulsory to use pre-packed cement screed on dry areas (i.e. walls and floors of bedrooms and living room). This gives a more uniform finish, but also costs more than regular cement.

BTO bathroom floor & walls cannot be changed for 3 years: There’s a 3-year restriction period on renovation work on the floors and walls of your new BTO bathroom.

That’s because they are coated with a waterproof membrane to prevent water from seeping to the unit below. If you choose to disregard the restriction and there’s seepage, you have to bear the cost of fixing the damage to your neighbour’s home.

(You can, however, tile over the existing flooring or lay a slip-resistant laminate.)

Exposed pipes cannot be permanently concealed: You feel the urge to cover up the exposed pipes in your bathroom or kitchen. As much of an eyesore as they are, pipes cannot be permanently concealed. In case of clogs, HDB must be able to access the pipes to investigate.

Restrictions on household (bomb) shelter: They aren’t the prettiest and you’ll be tempted to do something about them. But here’s what you CAN’T do to the shelter:

  • Cover or remove the notice pasted on the door
  • Modify or remove the door
  • Lay tiles, spray wall finishing such as cement sand finishing or put wall plaster on the interior walls
  • Lay tiles or skirting over its existing floor tiles
  • Hack on the external walls of the shelter to mount panels or lay tiles
  • Install anything that requires power tools on the interior walls

Front door needs to be fire-rated: If you want to replace your front door, you can, but just make sure the new door is fire-rated. Most HDB front doors are designed to contain smoke and fire within the unit so they don’t spread to staircases or life lobbies.

Restrictions on changing the windows & grilles: You absolutely cannot remove or tamper with the safety railings or grilles installed by HDB. You can replace the windows… but full height, ¾ height and bay windows are all not allowed. For windows facing the common corridor, you cannot install windows that open outwards.

And for balconies with a sliding door, the door is there because windows are not allowed, so don’t even think about touching it.

Renovation timings: Oh, and finally… HDB has something to say about the timing of your renovation, too. No matter how quiet, you cannot do renovation work:

  • Before 9am and after 5pm on weekdays and Saturdays
  • On Sundays and public holidays
  • For more than 3 months from date of the HDB permit

Noisy renovation works, such as demolition and drilling, are restricted on weekends and public holidays to minimise being a pain in the ass to your neighbours.

Things to note when you renov.

Renovation contractor, ID or design & build: Who should you hire?

It’s not enough to know how much to budget for each aspect of renovation work. Another important consideration that impacts cost is which vendor you eventually appoint to handle the renovation itself.

The first decision you have to make is: do you want a contractor, an interior designer or a design-and-build company?

HDB renovation contractor: These are the cheapest of the 3, since you’re paying for just the heavy lifting. If you have time and are confident about being in charge, going contractor-only is a good way to manage your budget. Typically they charge based on the cost of construction materials.

HDB renovation contractors need to be managed and given specific instructions. So this option is suitable for people who know exactly what they want, including the more technical specifications. You probably also need to take time off to stay home and oversee the work.

Interior designer: The interior designer (commonly abbreviated as “ID”) is a person or firm you hire on top of the contractor to help conceptualise, design, source and manage the entire project.

An ID’s job is to advise and create 3D designs that you approve, and to do the legwork when it come to sourcing for furniture, furnishings and fittings to complete the look. ID firms will also coordinate with your contractor and manage the renovation project, so it’s great if you want to be completely hands-off.

Of course the drawback is that you’ll have to pay more. IDs typically charge consultancy fees and fees on top of the materials.

Design & build: Somewhere in between is the design & build option. They’ll do the construction work expected of a  HDB renovation contractor, but include the design and project management as part of the package. Similar to contractors, you’ll pay a rate that’s based on the cost of the materials. No need to pay consultancy fees as the design is thrown in for free.

However, don’t expect them to turn your 4-room flat into a Banyan Tree resort. Design-and-build companies are more proficient in the construction aspect than the design one.

For practical homeowners who are managing their budget and not willing to splurge on the level of service and design provided by an ID firm, this is a viable option. It’s good for those who know what they want, but don’t have the time to actively manage the renovation project.

With ELPIS, we can help you achieve this balance through the use of suitable home decors and furniture. Regardless of your housing unit size, we will transform your home into a beautiful reflection of your style and taste. Our team of interior designers, with our expertise and experience in hdb renovation singapore, will be able to offer you solutions to any of your housing needs. Whether it is a BTO flat or a resale flat, we can help you to upgrade your current boring HDB interior.  

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