21 February 2022
Are you already excited to begin your house hunt? Singapore offers scores of housing options for new homeowners, as well as people looking to upgrade their houses. Whether it is a single bedroom apartment for an individual owner or three-bedroom homes for a complete family, you can easily find and move into your dream home with the help of HDB Singapore.
The primary concern of almost all new homeowners is the aesthetics of their first home — every apartment buyer steps into an available property with particular sets of hopes and dreams. No matter how many apartments you visit, you will ultimately realize that even the best of them will require at least some reworking or renovation before you move in.
Yes, many homeowners do invest in remodeling work after the finish unpacking. However, that increases the workload, especially, if you need to repaint, set up new wardrobes in the master bedroom, construct a new kitchen island or impose an open space concept between the living room and the kitchen. Almost all leading HDB interior designers recommend putting the final touches before you begin unpacking the knick-knacks.
What remodeling projects require permits from HDB?
The first question almost all homeowners ask us is, “do we need permits for renovating our HDB apartments?” In Singapore, you will need renovation permits from HDB before starting your home project. These are necessary to ensure that the remodeling work will not affect the structural integrity or safety of your building. HDB permits are mandatory since they aim to keep you and your neighbors safe.
The permits cover the ceilings to the floors of your HDB flat. If you are thinking about digging up your existing floor and relaying the tile work, you will need specific paperwork from the HDB. If you are thinking about raising the floor level in your kitchen, bathroom, balcony, or toilet, you will need a permit too. The only reason HDB stresses on permissions for the remodeling work is because improper work on the tiling or incorrect laying of slabs on the floor can deteriorate the safety of the building/apartment structure.
Do you need permits for installing new doors or remodeling the entrances inside your apartment?
Breaking walls or building new partitions will require a further permit. Since some of the walls in your new HDB flat can be load-bearing structures, the interior design and architect team you employ should have detailed information on the integrity of these walls.
Quite similarly, if you are planning to construct new doorways, arches above existing doors or passages, or rounded edges to existing entrances, you will need to seek a prior permit from HDB. This type of remodeling also includes replacing the finishes on the existing internal walls, unless you are restricting yourself to just plastering your walls or replacing the wallpaper.
Your front door says a lot about you and your aesthetics. Leading HDB interior design experts believe that the front door creates the first impression even before your guest can step inside or interact with the interior décor. However, in Singapore, you will need a permit to replace the main door if it faces an emergency exit or lobby, staircase, or an elevator. Moreover, if you are thinking about switching the location of entries within the apartment, you will need an additional permit from HDB as well.
Why do new homeowners not get permits for renovating their bathrooms or toilets from HDB?
Sadly, every HDB homeowner must wait at least three years before they can remove the floor or wall finish of their bathrooms or toilets. The only reason behind this is to prevent any damage to the new waterproofing in these moisture-laden spaces within the apartment. Only after three years, you can realize whatever dreams you have of renovating the master bathroom, extending the guest bathroom or joining two small adjacent ones to create a spacious repose.
Do you need a permit to install an AC or reconstruct a window?
HDB apartments typically come with air-conditioner compressors. Thankfully, you don’t have to apply for a permit when you want to install a new AC unit at home. In case you have bought an older apartment that still uses the 30 Amps main switch, you should apply for an AC permit immediately. The new units use 15 Amps main switch and 20 Amps isolator.
When you move into your new flat, you might want to upgrade your windows. Maybe just a change of grille design on the balcony or the service yard. Not only will you require permits from the HDB, but you will also need to engage only BCA-approved window contractors. They have registration with HDB, and they are the only ones who can complete renovation, installation, and replacement of windows of HDB apartments while maintaining safety guidelines.
What should you know about HDB apartment remodeling permits?
Submitting an application for renovation permit at the HDB is not complicated, but it is not as simple as new homeowners would like it to be either. For example, you will have to scan the blueprint of your home, the plans of the renovations, precise measurement of reconstructions of doorways and windows, the nature of remodeling of the walls and elevation plans in detail in digital format. Therefore, you will need to speak with an experienced team of interior decoration experts well in advance to have all the details in writing.
It is the task of the renovation contractor to submit the application digitally to the HDB office. Once the submission is successful, you will receive a confirmation SMS from HDB on your mobile phone. Once HDB grants the permit, you can check the “My HDBPage” for an update on the formal license.
All HDB home remodeling permits come with an expiry date. Therefore, once you receive the approval, you need to begin work as soon as possible. That means you need to keep your raw material, plans, and human resources at hand well before you receive the permit from HDB. For example, all new blocks get a span of 3 months to complete their renovation. Older apartments receive a shorter deadline for remodeling and renovation work. It is typically just 30-days, and it aims to minimize the inconvenience of the neighbors of resale properties.
How can you locate the right team of HDB interior design experts in your area?
HDB Singapore provides permits for customizing master bedroom layouts, adding wardrobes, additional insulation, soundproofing and customized lighting to their apartments. With the help of standardized permissions and guidelines, you should be able to spruce up your home to reflect your ideas of minimalist interior design.
Working on a dedicated and time-bound project demands the presence of experienced interior decorators and designers. While locating interior décor items and services on Google near you is no biggie, finding one that you can trust can actually be quite challenging. Apart from checking their permits and insurance, you need to find out all you can regarding their experience of working with HDB homes in your locality.
Always check the rating and review of a team online before you hire them. Word-of-mouth marketing may be the most effective way to hire contractors anywhere across the globe, but the dynamics of any team can keep changing. Whether you had hired them a couple of years ago, or your neighbor sought them out two years ago, you need to check their current reviews and client testimonials to know what to expect.
Most importantly, explore their portfolio to find out if they have worked on apartments like yours before. Some teams specialize in office renovations or commercial remodeling. While they might be close to your location, hiring them will serve little purpose for a homeowner. You need a team, which has extensive experience in renovating homes just like yours – they should include bathrooms, floor laying, tiling, wallpapering, wall reconstruction, window reinstallation and door remodeling in their list of services.
Set up a face-to-face meeting with the team before you finalize the deal. Make sure you are on the same page before they bring in the hammers and the drills. Talking about your plan will help the team leader comprehend your expectations, budget, and the workload before they begin. It is essential to speak to the renovation contractor with ample time in hand since he or she will file the renovation permit with HDB and then utilize the lull period in between to procure the necessary material and finalize the individual responsibilities of the team members.
Ask for references
Although almost all HDB permits are identical, there can be minute variations depending on the type of apartment and the age of the building. Choosing local contractors and architects can help you navigate the minute differences in the permit requirements according to localities or neighborhoods.
One of the time-trusted ways to find a reliable team of contractors is by asking around. If you are moving into a resale apartment, you can ask the previous owners or your new neighbors about organizations they might have hired to complete their home renovation. Not all contractors are eligible to perform remodeling work on HDB homes and hiring someone not compliant to HDB remodeling regulations can land you in hot water.