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How Much Does HDB Renovation Cost in Singapore?

renovation loan
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Planning to renovate and upgrade your home? You may find new challenges when you take on such a huge project during COVID-19.

Singapore HDB renovation is allowed during the pandemic but it won’t be as smooth a journey as it was pre-pandemic. According to reports, many constructions have been delayed due to manpower shortages and disruptions in supply distribution brought on by COVID-19.

However, this doesn’t mean that home renovation in Singapore is completely out of your options. You can still make things easier by reaching out to contractors early, deciding on the materials in advance, and preparing for uncertainties. Most importantly, you must be aware of your responsibilities as a flat owner. 

Dos and Don’ts

Here are a few important points to take note of when planning your HDB unit renovation:

  • Engage only contractors from the Directory of Renovation Contractor (DRC) to perform the renovation – including those works that don’t require HDB’s approval.
  • Get HDB’s written approval before carrying out any wall demolition or hacking – be it partial or complete.
  • Comply strictly with the permitted time specified by HDB to avoid causing a disturbance with your neighbors.
  • Do not ask workers or any individual to carry out demotion or hacking works that have not been approved by HDB in writing.

It is crucial to get written approval from the Housing Development Board before any demolition or hacking works since the approval ensures that the works will not affect the structural integrity of the building and compromise public safety.

Here are some additional rules and regulations to keep in mind:

  • Use only pre-packed cement screed
  • You cannot change the BTO bathroom floor and walls for 3 years
  • Exposed pipes can’t be permanently concealed
  • If you plan to replace the front door, it must be fire-rated
  • You cannot remove or tamper with the safety railings or grilles installed by HDB.
  • Don’t carry out any renovation works before 9am and after 5pm on weekdays and Saturdays, on Sundays and public holidays.

Who Should You Hire?

Who you hire can make a huge difference, not only in the total cost but also in the ease of the entire renovation project. That said, when planning an HDB renovation, you need to determine whether you want a contractor, an interior designer, or a design-and-build company.

Renovation Work Contractor Interior Designer Design-and-Build
Design Work No Yes Limited
Conceptualizing No Yes Limited
Material Sourcing Optional Yes Yes
Project Management No Yes Yes

Contractor 

Hiring a renovation contractor is the cheapest option out of the three since they are only in charge of doing all the heavy lifting. Contractors need to be given specific instructions.

As such, you will be in charge of all the other aspects of your renovation project, such as the design works. Plus, you will need to manage the entire renovation process which means you’ll need to stay home and oversee the work.

Interior Designer

Interior Designers or IDs do more than just pick out pretty furniture and furnishings. They conceptualize, design, source materials, and manage the entire project. Most of the time, interior designers already have a team of contractors who can do the heavy lifting. 

Other services they offer include:

  • Interior design consultation
  • Create 3D designs
  • Sourcing of materials, like furniture, furnishings, and fitting.
  • Project management

They are the best option if you want to be completely hands-off in your renovation project. 

So what’s the catch?

Hiring interior designers costs more. They charge consultancy fees and fees on top of the materials used. 

Design-and-Build

If you don’t want the burden of managing the entire renovation project on your own, then hiring a design-and-build firm is the best option.

Aside from doing the heavy lifting, they can also offer design and project management services. Unlike interior designers, you don’t have to pay consultancy fees. Interior design work is already part of the package.

That said, design-and-build firms are perfect if you’re on a budget and don’t want to actively manage the renovation process. 

How To Find a Legit Renovation Contractor in Singapore

If you’re renovating an HDB flat, you are required to hire a renovation contractor from the Directory of Renovation Contractor (DRC).  HDB-approved contractors know all of the HDB’s rules and requirements. These contractors will not accept non-compliant jobs.

If you’re hiring interior designers, make sure that you only engage with CaseTrust-accredited ID firms.

Guidelines To Understand the Requirements for Renovations

HDB has a set of rules and requirements for HDB flat renovation works. Some require an HDB permit, while others do not.

Here are examples of renovation guidelines for specific works. Check out the complete guidelines for your flat through My HDBPage.

Disallowed Building Works

  • Hacking and removal of structural members, such as reinforced concrete walls, columns, beams, slabs, and staircases within executive maisonettes, etc.
  • Plastering of ceilings
  • Using combustible or toxic emission materials, such as plywood, plastic, or asbestos for partitioning.
  • Raising of floor level exceeding the allowable 50mm thickness (inclusive of floor tiles) using concrete
  • Painting external parts of the building, such as the common corridor walls and ceilings
  • Installing an awning or other fixtures outside the flat
  • Laying floor finishes outside entrance door without having recess area or step
  • Change of use of planter box

Disallowed Sanitary and Plumbing/Gas Works

  • Construction of water tank in the bathroom except for ready-made long baths, such as fiberglass

Disallowed Window / Door / Grilles Works

  • Installing casement windows where the flat’s façade is facing the common corridor.
  • Replacing the full height windows or ¾ height windows or bay windows.
  • Removal or tampering of the original safety railings/grilles
  • Installation of overhead grilles at interaction balcony
  • Only grilles already installed by the Developer are allowed
  • Removal or replacement of sliding doors apart from the one installed by the Developer
  • Placement of reflective film over existing window glass panels

Disallowed Air-Conditioner Installation Works

  •  Installing of window unit air-conditioners
  • Partial or total enclosure on air-conditioner ledge
  • Change of use of air-conditioner ledge

For the complete list of renovation guidelines, go to the HDB website.

Remember, different types of HDB flats have different guidelines. For instance, a DBSS unit has specific renovation guidelines as they are designed by different private developers. Likewise, if your unit is an HDB-designed BTO, you need to check out the renovation restrictions here.

Application for Renovation Loan

Applying for Approval

Certain types of HDB flat renovation require an HDB renovation permit. This is written approval from HDB which allows you to proceed with the specific renovation works. Here are some of the works that require a HDB renovation permit:

  • Hacking of flooring and walls
  • Moving the placement of a door which may require you to hack a wall
  • Changing staircase railings
  • Window replacement
  •  Bathroom renovation and air-conditioning works
  • Plumbing works
  • Gas works

Even if the renovation work does not require a permit, it is still crucial to comply with the set guidelines. Failing to do so will be considered unauthorized work.

How do you apply for a renovation permit?

You need to authorize your renovation contractor to submit an electronic renovation application on your behalf. Your contractor must attach a copy of the acknowledgment form you signed. Once the submission is received, you will receive an SMS notification from HDB.

Renovation Budget Estimates for HDB Flat

Renovation costs Singapore for HDB flat has a rule of thumb: the more extensive space and rooms an HDB property has, the more costs in renovation you’ll need to handle. On the other hand, this rule only gives you rough estimates of your total costs for renovating your property.

The costs for HDB renovation might increase if the flat has gone through a severe and dilapidated condition for a long time because of the long labor periods and materials needed to restore it.

Additionally, the more walls your flat has, the more insulation and reconstruction materials you’ll need.

The average HDB flat has four rooms. A 4-room HDB flat with a 90-square meter zone will require about S $40,000-S $50,000 for a usual or average renovation. This remodeling will not involve in-depth architectural reorganization, piping, electrical overhauls, and adding bathroom and kitchen fixtures.

Based on this average 4-room HDB flat renovation costs, there are three usual room sizes for HDB properties and the hypothetical costs you may encounter.

3-Room Renovations

For an in-depth 3-room HDB renovation, property owners will need to save up about S $30,000 – S $50,000. For most lightly-used, damaged, or aged HDB 3-room flats, you’ll mostly need the following services:

  • Plumbing: which costs about S $100 – S $200 for light work and S $200 – S $500 for moderate work.
  • Masonry: to block and fix cracks on walls and often inclusive of repainting. It costs about S $200 – S $1,300 for light masonry and S $1,300- S $3,900 for severe cases
  • The costs of labor we listed above do not include the room flat materials for additional living room or flooring modifications. Additionally, if you’re hiring interior designers and carpenters to remove and add new fixtures and room elements, you might have to pay more than five digits in total for your renovation costs. 

4-Room Renovations

As we’ve mentioned earlier, the average HDB flat with four rooms can cost about S $40,000 – S $50,000. However, with in-depth repairs, additional aesthetic improvements, or full ideal customization, the total renovation cost for an average four-room HDB flat can skyrocket up to S $110,000.

You can certainly reach that figure if you hire interior designers to improve your living room or master bedroom aesthetics with track lights or a feature wall (or even beyond). However, on average, most aged properties only need the same services:

  • Plumbing
  • Masonry
  • Electrical Wiring: Modern costs for electrical wiring go from S $300 – S $1,700 for light labor and materials plus S $1,700 – S $3,200 for a significant or full restoration
  • Ceiling and Partition: with its wider square meter size, that can span a living room or master bedroom, a 4-room renovation will require up to S $600 for light repairs and a maximum of S $1,100 for moderate repairs.

5-Room Renovation

On average, a Singapore homeowner can spend about S $50,000 – S $70,000 to restore the functionality and capability of a 5-room HDB flat. For a resale flat with a young age of fewer than 15 years, the renovation work involved might require less from the following services. However, you can expect the extensive, in-depth costs of labor with the following if the 5-room HDB flat is quite beyond its prime:

  • Plumbing: S $800 – S $3,900
  • Masonry: S $5,700 – S$17,500
  • Electrical Wiring: S $1,700 – S $3,200

Man and Ipad calculating renovation cost

Financing Your Renovation: What Are Your Renovation Loan Options?

Bank Renovation Financing

Whether you’re buying or renovating your new HDB home, you’ll need an HDB Letter of Offer after you’ve successfully had your purchasing application approved. You’ll need to meet the minimum requirements for age, ownership, and income. With the banks’ substantial cash reserves, you can fully fund your purchase or renovating project for an HDB flat.

Renovating loans differ from personal financing because it requires your contractor and material supplier’s invoices to verify your total renovation costs.

However, you might find it challenging to get your financing approved if you have poor credit scores. Make sure to improve your credit history and dependability or use the HDB’s

Moneylender Renovation Loan

Many of the best licesned moneylenders offer considerable amounts for renovation loans, even for borrowers with bad credit. Like bank renovation loans, you’ll need to provide your HDB Letter of Offer, contractor and supplier invoices, and meet all the age, ownership, and income requirements.

However, unlike traditional bank loans, the application process is fast and less stringent. It’s a good option if you need urgent cash. Find out more on the best renovation loan for you.

But is borrowing from a moneylender safe?

Licensed moneylenders are regulated by the Registry of Moneylenders. You can find the complete list of licensed and accredited moneylenders in Singapore on the MinLaw website.

Closing

Singapore HDB renovation is allowed during the pandemic. However, you must be aware of your responsibilities as a flat owner. Additionally, you must properly set your budget, especially since costs may have changed due to the current pandemic situation.

Key takeaways

  • Engage only contractors from the Directory of Renovation Contractor (DRC) to perform the renovation – including those works that don’t require HDB’s approval.
  • Get HDB’s written approval before carrying out any wall hacking or demolition – be it partial or complete.
  • Who you hire – whether contractors, interior designers, or design-and-build firms, can make a huge difference both in the total cost and the ease of completing the project.
  • Renovation costs Singapore has a rule of thumb: the more extensive space and rooms an HDB property has, the more costs in renovation you’ll need to handle.

Need extra cash but not sure which loan package to get? Loan Advisor, a comprehensive loan comparison tool, will help you find the best terms, interest rates, and loan tenure. They have the latest information about the top licensed moneylenders in Singapore. Request up to three loan quotes today to find the loan package that is tailored for your needs.

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