How Do I… Know What I Can and Can’t Do in an HDB Renovation?
When it comes to renovating your flat, you need to know what you can and can’t do before you get started.
But before you start, you need to know what is allowed by the HDB – otherwise you could end up with a mess you can’t fix!
You need to engage a firm that is registered with the HDB. There is a list of registered contractors, Directory of Renovation Contractors (DRC), which you can access via the HDB website.
Tip: Reach out to friends and family for recommendations for reliable contractors and meet with a few.
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There are a few things you’re not allowed to change.
Just some of the things that are not allowed:
- Hacking, alterations or removal of reinforced concrete wall, columns, beams, slabs, etc.
- Plastering of ceilings
- Raising of floor level exceeding the allowable thickness of 50 millimetres (inclusive of floor tiles) using concrete
- Constructing a water tank in the bathroom except for ready‐made fibreglass bathtubs
- Painting external parts of the building (e.g. common corridor walls and ceilings)
- Installing awning or other fixtures outside the flat
- Laying floor finishes outside the entrance door without having a recess area or step
- Replacement of existing full height windows, including 3/4 height windows and bay windows
- Removal or modification of railings at the balcony
- Partial or total enclosure including installation of external grilles on the air‐conditioner ledge
- Only grilles already installed by the Developer are allowed
- Installation of overhead grilles (i.e. caging up) at the balcony, where applicable
- Change of use of planter box and air‐conditioner ledge
- Installation of windows, wall, full height sliding door screen and/or structure of any form to enclose the balcony area.
- Installing of window unit air‐conditioners
- Replacement of glazing of windows with colour that is different from the original
- Sealing up existing window, main door and Household Shelter openings
- Drilling of holes through beams, columns and other structure members
- Create openings in existing external walls
- Painting external wall/railing of the balcony with colour that is different from the original
For the whole list, go to the HDB website for Renovation Guidelines.
There are some things you can do, but only with HDB’s permission. As with the things not allowed, there’s a fairly extensive list of things you need permission for:
- Replacement of existing wall and/or floor finishes
- Replacement of sliding door at balcony
- Installation of grilles of approved design at balcony
- Hacking/demolition (be it partially or fully) of existing internal partition wall(s)
Again, you can go to the HDB website to find out which types of application you will need. There are specific applications for general work, plumbing and electrical, adding air-conditioning and also making any changes to your Service Yard area (the ‘laundry space’).
Plus, you will also need to take into account any requirements related to other authorities like the Building & Construction Authority, the Ministry of Manpower, The Fire Safety and Shelter Department, National Environment Agency, Urban Redevelopment Authority, Energy Market Authority, Public Utilities Board and SP Services.
Yes, that’s a lot of different rules and regulations to consider. This is why you need a registered contractor – they should know all the various departments they need to be in touch with.
Once you’ve got that approval in your hands, you must have the entire ‘approved renovation’ completed within three months from the date of the renovation permit.
If you begin any renovation work before you get your approval permit, you will be fined and possibly have all work stopped.
Only certified workers are allowed to be hired by your contractor to do the ‘hacking’ or removal of walls etc. in your flat.
Your contractor has to display your Notice of Renovation outside your HDB apartment. You are also supposed to keep your immediate neighbours posted on noisy work and give them three days notice. Noisy works should be carried out within three days and are not permitted on weekends, public holidays and eve of major public holidays.
General renovation work can only be done from 8am to 6pm. Noisy jobs that involve drilling and hammering – like wall demolition and removing tiles – can only be done from 9am to 5pm on weekdays.
If you’re thinking of doing a bit of DIY, be aware that hammering or drilling is not allowed from 10:30pm to 7am. If you do have to, you need to check with your neighbours first to make sure they’re OK with the extra noise.
Tip: You can only have two approved hand-held power tools being used at the same time; and demo work isn’t allowed to take more than three consecutive days.
You’re not allowed to leave renovation rubbish lying around the HDB corridors, outside your flat or dumped in the rubbish area. You also have to make sure your contractor cleans up any mess in the lifts or stairs.
There are some things you are allowed to do that you don’t need a permit for… but you do need to follow HDB’s Renovation Guidelines.
- Replacement of the main gate with no change to the existing size and shape of the gate
- Installation of internal grilles behind windows and sliding doors
- Installation of false ceiling and/or wallpaper
- Installation of light fittings
- Laying of floor finishes in the balcony and bathrooms over existing finishes using adhesive only. The thickness of floor tiles inclusive of adhesive must not exceed 13 millimetres
If you’ve renovated your flat, what tips can you share with Houzzers? Tell us in the Comments below. And don’t forget to save your favourite images, bookmark the story, and join in the conversation.
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