Having a HDB flat in Singapore comes with various responsibilities. You have to meet official guidelines and prerequisites for modifications and home interior design changes. This doesn’t mean you can’t modernise or transform your living space. You will simply need to get a better idea about what the Housing and Development Board allows.
The HDB website provides extensive information about what’s permitted, what isn’t and how you should handle the interior design project. To make the process of going through the guidelines easier, we’ve summarised some of the most important HDB apartment renovation prerequisites and rules.
Choose the Right Interior Design Company
The HDB has pretty clear requirements when it comes to the selection of the right Singapore interior design company.
When planning the work, choose contractors from the Directory of Renovation Contractors (DRC). This is a list of contractors and interior design companies that are registered with the HDB. In order to get and maintain such registration, home renovation companies will have to adhere to certain standards. Their inclusion in the list almost guarantees quality of work and following of nationally-established interior design/renovation guidelines – but they may get complacent, so you still have to be vigilant.
Choosing a company from the list comes with an added advantage. Companies included in the DRC are familiar with the HDB requirements, the types of permits needed to begin the work and the scope of HDB flat modifications that can be carried out.
Understand the Types of Work You’ll Need to Get a Permit for
Certain HDB apartment modifications necessitate preliminary approval from the HDB. When planning a residential interior design project, you should allocate sufficient time to dealing with the paperwork and making sure you have the legal permission to commence.
The demolition of walls, as well as their partial removal, will have to be approved by the HDB in advance.
The aim of this procedure is to maintain the structural integrity of the building. Thus, HDB will have to be informed about serious modifications you plan to carry out to the interior or the exterior space. If there’s any risk of compromising the strength and support of the building, you will get a rejection.
If you begin structural work without informing the HDB and getting approval, you will face prosecution and fines. Thus, it’s a much better idea to go through with the process, even if it’s going to slow down the commencement of interior design work.
Inform Your Neighbours and Comply with Renovation Timeframes
As an HDB apartment owner, you’re responsible for informing your neighbours about the work. A Notice of Renovation has to be displayed outside the apartment and it should remain there for the entire period during which work is being carried out.
This rule applies to all kinds of interior design projects, including the ones that don’t necessitate the acquisition of a written HDB permit.
Contractors should also be committed to ensuring minimal disturbance during the day. General renovations can take place from 9am to 6pm during the week days and on Saturday. Renovation work cannot take place on Sundays. The same applies to official public holidays.
If there’s any noisy work taking place (floor finishes, tile cutting, wall demolition, etc.), the timeframe is from 9am to 5pm on weekdays. Noisy work cannot be carried out later than that and on Saturdays.
Once the renovation begins, you will have one month for work on existing buildings and three months for the completion of renovations in a new block. You will be responsible for informing the HDB that the renovation work is completed.
Know the Types of Work You Cannot Carry Out
HDB interior design and renovation projects come with certain limitations. There are several types of disallowed building work that you can’t carry out, regardless of the apartment’s condition or your vision.
Any type of work that will compromise the integrity and structural strength of the building is not permissible. You’re also banned from changing the external façade of the building, posing a fire hazard or infringing lease agreements and other statutory regulations.
Based on these requirements, there are several types of renovation activities that cannot be carried out by HDB apartment owners. The most common ones include the removal of structural walls or supporting pillars, excessive overloading of the floor slab, the plastering of ceilings, using combustible or toxic emission-releasing materials, raising floor levels beyond a permitted level of 50 millimetres, painting over the building’s façade, installing fixtures outside the flat and removing the pitched roof ceiling if you leave in the top floor apartment.
Technical Terms and Conditions
Apart from the general and the safety-related HDB guidelines, there are specific technical terms and conditions for the execution of apartment renovation projects.
While all of these guidelines are available in full detail on the official HDB website, understanding some of the technical specifications will be difficult if you don’t have experience in the construction sector. This is why you have to choose contractors that are HDB registered. They will be familiar with the technical guidelines, ensuring adherence and commitment to the HDB best practices.
HDB technical guidelines have been drafted for nearly every aspect of the interior work – flooring, wall modifications, the installation of shelves and fixtures, drilling, window removal/installation/modifications, the installation of a home fire device, etc.
All of these guidelines are based on specific laws and regulatory requirements. A failure to adhere could lead to hefty fines and other complications.
HDB apartment modifications are exciting because you’ll be working on the creation of your dream home. At the same time, you have to be familiar with the legal framework and the limitations. Talking to an experienced interior design team will shed more light on the HDB guidelines and whether the work you’re interested in can be carried out.
Home Guide is a reputable HDB registered interior design and renovations company that has years of experience in the field of HDB apartment modifications. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions about residential work or you’d like to acquaint yourself with the HDB guidelines. We’ll be more than happy to suggest the best scenarios for the execution of your project.