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The Essential Rules for HDB Flat Renovations in Singapore

Your perfectly charming and unassuming HDB flat will soon be rolled out and you can’t help but to think about your first home’s beauty project.

With this grand ambition in mind, you begin to wonder the endless styles you could render to your new home - the rustic and the contemporary, the chic and the shabby chic, the ethnic and the stylistic. With a triple “Ok” sounds in your head, you jump into the project but don’t seem to be well ahead of it. 

It’s all too easy to leave the renovation and improvement of your HDB flat to your every passing whim and fancy. But the prospect of renovating your HDB flat is a daunting one.

If you haven’t already know the essential rules and conditions set by HDB, you may be carrying out unauthorized renovation works, or worse, you may have to discontinue or reinstate your home premise to its original condition after the renovation.

With all the strict guidelines, it’s impossible to not be well-informed and yet take the right steps for your HDB renovations. 

Through this quick and easy to understand guide, let us clue you in on the latest HDB renovations and have your every unspoken question answered. 

Scenario 1

What I Want…

Since I’m a new homeowner without much experience, I don’t really have any idea which interior designer to engage when it comes to renovating my flat. This leaves me with browsing the sites and flipping through every design and home-improvement magazine at home.

Personally, I prefer to have someone who can offer the best advice at his fingertips and knows the ins and outs of every renovation process

What a HDB Renovation Contractor Can Do…

The Housing & Development (Renovation Control) Rules 2006 require all HDB flat owners to engage an HDB registered renovation contractor when carrying out renovation in an HDB flat. The prerequisite to this is to ensure that renovation works are regulated and do not damage the building structure.

Your newly appointed registered contractor is responsible to complete all renovation works to the HDB standards. To check if your contractor is registered with HDB, you can refer to the List of Registered Renovation Contractors in HDB InfoWEB. 

Scenario 2

What I Want…

I have been running everywhere to get a permit for my renovation job, and also felt frustrated that I’m spending so much time doing that. Essentially, I need somebody who can do the job for me. 

What a HDB Renovation Contractor Can Do…

Your HDB renovation contractor will inform you, before you enter into a home-improvement contract, of all required construction permits. This means your contractor will submit your renovation application on your behalf, either by submitting electronically or personally going to the HDB branch managing your flat.

Your name should never appear on the permit in the first place. Also, the HDB does not charge any fee for the processing of the permit. Once the permit is obtained, you can then ask your contractor to commence renovating your premises. If in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask questions. 

Scenario 3

What I Want…

For the renovation cost, I’m allocating around $20,000 and I don’t wish to go over budget. I want a reliable contractor who can offer low prices for my 3-room HDB flat. Since I don’t intend to pay for the renovation upfront, it’ll be ideal if he can work out the payment schedule before commencing the job.

What a HDB Renovation Contractor Can Do…

Many HDB renovation contractors will tend to come out with standard renovation packages listing the basic renovation works and the cost. Most of them provide similar packages which you can use as a guide.

If your renovation cost is $20,000, your renovation contractor will ask you to pay a respectable down payment followed by the rest as he goes along. You will then stick to a payment schedule provided by your contractor.

The proportion of the payments can be flexible and is strictly based on a private agreement between you and your contractor. 

Scenario 4


What I Want…

So I must hire an HDB licensed contractor but what about the uninsured ones, like transient workers who stay or work in a place for only a short time?

What if they get injured or destroy my property and they aren’t insured? It makes me feel safer if my contractor can offer some coverage or options to safeguard my interests.

What a HDB Renovation Contractor Can Do…

Relax, all the HDB registered renovation contractors are generally licensed and insured (in some ways). But you don’t really know the degree of insurance they have.

Ideally your appointed HDB renovation contractor should be able to provide you with a little background information or proof of liability insurance of his workers.

Even if your contractor has a reputation for being a little crabby, he’ll be more than happy to take the time to communicate one step further if he’s genuine in making a deal with you.

Scenario 5


What I Want…

I love everything unique. I was meeting with my contractor just last week and I told him I needed an “ultimate change” for my home - from the style of my entrance door to the walls concealing the vanity areas to the flooring and tiles - everything has to be replaced. I’m also thinking of adding a false wall partition feature in the living-dining area. 

What a HDB Renovation Contractor Can Do…

Certain types of renovation such as alteration and adding works required evaluation by HDB’s Technical Group. Your registered HDB renovation contractor will submit the floor plan showing the proposed alteration and adding works on your behalf to HDB for approval.

In some cases, it’s impossible for HDB to approve of all renovation works especially if the works involved may affect the structural integrity, external façade and safety of the building. 

Be reminded that you should always refer to the guidelines for renovation and building works in a HDB flat if you have doubts.