Just received the keys and all ready to renovate your new flat? Before you begin, however, you need to make sure that your tweaks do not go against the HDB rules – otherwise, you could be fined up to $5,000 for your unauthorised installations!
But HDB renovations are not as intimidating as they seem. Let us walk you through the dos and don’ts of HDB renovation.
DO engage with HDB approved contractors
Before you begin with the renovation works, do ensure that your contractor is registered with the HDB as one of their approved renovation contractors. They will have to be listed in the Directory of Renovation Contractors (DRC), which can be accessed via the HDB website.
This is to ensure that the contractors do not compromise the structural integrity of the building as they are aware of the HDB’s renovation requirements (check out this article on the difference between an interior designer and a contractor).
DO inform your neighbours of your renovation beforehand
Your contractor must also display your Notice of Renovation outside your HDB apartment. You must also inform your immediate neighbours about the noisy work and give them a three days’ notice.
Such works should be carried out within three days and are not permitted on weekends, public holidays, and eve of major public holidays.
Any hacking, alteration or removal of walls can only be carried out with the HDB’s approval.
Bear in mind that only non-load bearing walls can be hacked. This means that existing reinforced concrete walls should not be meddled with during renovation works.
A professional engineer for civil or structural works is also required to supervise the renovation.
When erecting walls, adequate natural lighting and ventilation should be provided if the room will be used for habitation.
There should also be a direct fire escape route.
While there is no need to seek HDB’s permission for ceilings, homeowners should ensure that there is a minimum clearance height of 2.4m between the false ceiling and the finished floor level. Only non-combustible materials should be used.
They also should not conceal any gas pipes.
False ceilings are not allowed in bathrooms.
As bomb shelters are furnished with steel doors and strengthened structural components to protect occupants during emergencies, they are considered a vital structural component of the flat. Thus, its main structural features – walls, floor slab, ceiling and steel door – should not be tampered with during renovation.
Any removable fixtures should only cover up to 75 per cent of the ventilation opening. Permanent finishes and fixtures that cannot be removed easily, on the other hand, are not allowed to be installed in the shelters.
If you wish to paint the shelter, be sure to remove the old coat of paint before repainting. This ensures that the layer of paint remains thin and does not interfere with the closing and opening of the door. Any paint works over the door notice, locking bolts or door seal is not allowed.
If the steel ventilation plate cover in the shelter is removed, it should be secured inside the shelter on one of the walls with removable screws of a maximum of 50mm that have non-metallic inserts. The bolts and nuts must be installed back to the original position in their fully closed positions after removal.
New Build-to-Order flat owners, take note: Your bathroom/ toilet can only be modified after the first 3 years of your block’s completion. This ensures that water does not leak to the neighbouring units.
After this period, homeowners will require a permit from HDB to enlarge their bathroom space.
Keep in mind that the extended area must not stretch more than 600mm in width and exceed 0.6 sq m. Additionally, the extended area can be used only as a dry area.
The existing gas riser and its branch pipe should not be covered as well.
The HDB strictly does not allow the replacement of full-height windows, ¾ height windows and bay windows.
Homeowners can only carry out replacement works in the event of a damaged window frame with HDB’s permission.
They will have to engage the services of a Qualified Person who will first submit the structural calculations and drawings to the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) for approval.
Following this, a BCA-approved window contractor will submit a permit to initiate the works based on the approved drawings.
And if you wish to replace or install aluminium windows in your flat, you will also need to engage a BCA-approved window contractor.
A list of approved window contractors can be found in BCA’s directory (even IN-EXPAT!).
The aforementioned renovation restrictions are just a brief introduction to the lengthy guidelines set by the HDB. Keep in the mind that there may be additional restrictions for BTO or Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) estates.
Be sure to check these restrictions online before starting your renovation works.