HDB Renovation Permits and Guidelines: A Guide to Renovating Your HDB

A home in the process of renovation works

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve either just gotten a new resale flat or a BTO flat, or are preparing to renovate one that you’ve owned for a while. When it comes to renovating an HDB flat, you can’t just jump into it and hire a renovation contractor to start hacking away at your walls. There are HDB renovation permits and guidelines that need to be obtained and followed before works can commence. 

In this article, we walk you through what renovations works aren’t allowed in HDB flats, the renovations works which require HDB renovation permits, and the accompanying renovation guidelines. 

 

HDB Renovation Permit: An Overview

HDB renovation permit: What is it?

The written approval from HDB that allows you to carry on with specific renovation works.

Works that require HDB renovation permit

Hacking of flooring and walls, moving the placement of a door (which requires you to hack a wall), changing of staircase railings, replacement of windows, bathroom and air-conditioning works

Time taken for HDB to approve the permit

2-3 days, if renovation work does not include hacking or reconfiguring of toilets or sinks.

How to apply 

By filling in this form and submitting it to HDB

HDB renovation hours

9:00am-5:00pm on weekdays and Saturdays

 

HDB Renovation Guidelines: What you cannot do

HDB regulates what kinds of renovation works can be done in HDB flats, and breaching these regulations can result in prosecution from the government. 
While some require an HDB renovation permit before they can be done, others can’t be done entirely. This could be due to reasons pertaining to building structural integrity or fire hazards, or because they infringe on lease agreements and other statutory regulations. 

Some are also disallowed for public safety reasons, or because they will negatively affect the external facade.  

Examples of renovation works that aren’t allowed

Building and Structure

  • Hacking and removal of structural members (load bearing structures or staircases) 
  • Overloading of floor slab with more than 150kg for every metre square of floor 
  • Plastering of ceilings 
  • Partitioning with combustible or toxic materials 
  • Raising of floor level exceeding the allowed thickness of 50mm with concrete, inclusive of finishes 
  • Extending floor area by covering void areas
  • Repositioning or enlarging chute opening 
  • Painting the area outside the flat
  • Installing awning or other fixtures outside the flat
  • Laying floor finishes outside the entrance without having recess area or step
  • Removing a pitched roof ceiling
  • Changing planter boxes

Sanitation or Plumbing

  • Constructing water tanks in bathrooms

Windows, Doors, or Grilles

  • Installing casement windows when the flat faces the common corridor
  • Replacing full height windows, 3/4 height windows, or bay windows
  • Removing or tampering with safety railings/grilles (internal and external)
  • Permanently sealing a planter box
  • Installing overhead grilles at an interaction balcony

Air-Conditioning Related Works

  • Installing external grilles on the air-conditioner ledge 
  • Changing the use of the air-conditioner ledge

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Specific guidelines for renovating your particular unit can be accessed through HDB’s My HDBPage. If you are engaging an interior design firm, they will be able to handle the process of getting HDB renovation permits. 

Different types of HDB flats have different guidelines as well - for example, if you own a DBSS unit, each DBSS development has its own guidelines. If your unit is an HDB-designed BTO, you can check on the renovation restrictions by using HDB’s portal.

Floor tiling being hacked during renovation works

You can’t simply hack flooring in your flat without getting an HDB renovation permit

 

HDB Renovation Permit: What is it?

There are specific works that require written approval from HDB, and these are given in the form of HDB renovation permits. You’ll need these permits before any renovation work can take place.

If you don’t get a HDB renovation permit before starting the renovation works, HDB will treat it as unauthorised works, and ask you to reinstate your flat to how it was originally. Certain precincts that have unique designs and special features have additional guidelines that need to be complied with as well.

For works that don’t require permits, you’ll still need to comply with the guidelines governing them, or HDB will ask you to remove them and restore your flat to its original condition. 

 

HDB Renovation Permit: What are the works that require one?

1. Replacement of Flooring

Any works that require tearing up the existing floor or raising it will require an HDB renovation permit. For example, if you intend to replace all the tiles in your kitchen, doing so would require removal of the old flooring. 

Apart from the need to obtain a permit, there are also guidelines to note. One of these is that the new floor finish must not exceed 5cm. If you are raising it, the height between the floor level and windows cannot be less than 1m. 

Not sure what kind of flooring to pick for your HDB flat? Read this guide here!

Buying

Not sure what kind of flooring to pick for your HDB flat? Read this guide here!

2. Hacking of Walls

If you want an open-plan space, you can’t just hack down any old wall. Structural or load bearing walls cannot be hacked, and you will need to consult the floor plan for your flat to see which ones these are. 

You may demolish any walls that are non-structural, but your space must be evaluated and receive approval first. Demolition of walls must also start from the ceiling and move downwards. For statement walls, when you’re laying down the new finish, its thickness cannot exceed 2.5cm.

3. Relocation of Doors

If you’re thinking about moving a door to a different part of your house, keep in mind that you cannot have doors through reinforced concrete walls. Since this involves a lot of hacking, you also cannot demolish any load-bearing columns or walls. 

4. Changing of Staircases

If you own a maisonette and want different railings from the HDB-provided ones, you can change them. However, you will need permits from both HDB and the Building Construction Authority (BCA). You will also need to hire a professional engineer, who will create a design for BCA to approve. After the BCA approves the design, you will then need to submit it to HDB for the HDB renovation permit.

5. Replacement of Windows

Should you decide to change your windows, you will need to adhere to HDB’s guidelines once your permit is granted. Your new windows need to be similar to the original HDB ones, and there are also size limits. Casement windows can only be 50cm to 70cm wide, and 50cm to 120cm for sliding windows.

For service yards and balconies, grille designs need to be approved by HDB. They also have to follow the flat’s appointed designs, which can be found in the fact sheet provided to you when you collect your keys.

While you might be thinking ‘But it’s just windows!’, it appears HDB has all these window rules and guidelines in place for safety reasons. The last thing you want is a window falling down tens of stories and hurting someone because it didn’t meet certain criteria.

Want to know more about maintenance guidelines for HDB windows? Read this article here.

HDB Guides

Want to know more about maintenance guidelines for HDB windows? Read this article here.

6. Bathroom Works

If you have a BTO, you are not allowed to replace or hack your walls and floors of your bathroom for the first three years. 

The reason for this is that the waterproofing membrane installed by HDB needs time to stabilise, so water leakage doesn’t occur. After the three years have passed, you can get a renovation permit to change your tiling. Do note that the total thickness of the finishes for flooring should not exceed 5cm, and wall finishes should not exceed 2.5cm.

With that in mind, there are also conditions to installing any large bathroom fixtures such as a shower screen, long bath, shower tray and a spa pool. We suggest for you to go through a Public Utilities Board (PUB) Licensed Plumber who will be able to advise you in detail on what you can or cannot do. 

Need design ideas for your BTO flat’s toilets? Check out this article.

Home Improvement

Need design ideas for your BTO flat’s toilets? Check out this article.

7. Water and Sanitary Plumbing

While you do not need a permit if you are thinking of replacing/fixing a new wash basin, you will need a permit if you are repositioning it. The same applies for repositioning of the sink in the kitchen.

It is important to note that as at 1st April 2018, all intensive plumbing works have to be done by a Public Utilities Board (PUB) Licensed Plumber. These intensive works include (but not limited to):

  • Installation or replacement of toilet pan
  • Replacement of water pipes
  • Diversion of sink waste pipes
  • Encasement of pipes
  • Concealing of pipes in walls or floors

For the full list, you may visit HDB's website here.

8. Gas Works

It is compulsory to engage an Energy Market Authority's (EMA) licensed gas service worker for any and all gas works for your home. These works include (but not limited to):

  • Encasement of gas riser pipe
  • Relocation of gas meter
  • Removal of gas branch pipe
  • Installation of gas water heater/gas oven 

9. Some Electrical Works (Installation of Air-Conditioning)

All air-conditioners need to be installed by a BCA-trained installer. You will also need to submit an installation report and a form from SP Services to HDB. 

The kind of air-conditioning you install will also depend on the electrical loading of your main switch. It is recommended that you check the electrical loading of your block via HDB’s e-Service.

 

HDB Renovation Permit form: How to apply?

If you have hired an interior designer, they will likely assist you in this process. Otherwise, you will need to fill in the HDB renovation permit form and submit it to HDB.

The form requires quite a bit of details, so you will need to set aside at least 10 minutes to complete it. Be sure to not miss out any information or you might need to go through the hassle of reapplying for another permit again.

To fill in the HDB renovation permit form, you will need:

  1. Two copies of scaled floor plans
  2. Signatures of all flat owners for acknowledgment

 

HDB Renovation Permit approval time

It normally takes about 2-3 days for an HDB renovation permit to be approved if renovation work does not include wall hacking or reconfiguring of toilets or sinks. 

Nonetheless, it’s best to apply for an HDB renovation permit early where possible, and not leave it to the last minute!  

When you’ve obtained the HDB renovation permit, HDB will give a deadline for when the works must be completed. 

For BTO flats that have just been completed, you’ll have 3 months from the date of the HDB renovation permit to complete the relevant works. If your flat is an older resale one, you’ll have a month from the date of the permit to finish the renovations. 

 

HDB Renovation timing: When can renovation works be done?

Renovation works should only be done during the hours of 9am to 5pm on weekdays and Saturdays. You can’t have any works done on Sundays or public holidays, since it’ll cause disturbances to your neighbours. Nobody wants to hear drilling when they’re trying to sleep in on a Sunday morning.

Finding an HDB-approved contractor

HDB provides a resource of approved contractors that you can browse through their e-Service. Note that these are not HDB’s contractors; HDB is not privy into the contracts that you and these contractors sign when you engage them. However, if you encounter any disagreements, you can seek mediation through CASE, Singapore Mediation Centre or the Small Claims Tribunal

 

More FAQs related to HDB renovation permits

How long can renovation works for my HDB go on for?

For newly completed blocks (BTO), the approved renovations must be completed within three months from the date of the permit. For existing blocks, you will need to complete the works one month from the date of the permit.

What time should renovation stop?

No noisy renovations within the flat can be done after 5.00pm on weekdays.

Does HDB provide renovation loans?

No. If you require a renovation loan, you may apply for one with a bank.

 

For more property news, resources and useful content like this article, check out PropertyGuru’s guides section

Are you looking to buy a new home? Head to PropertyGuru to browse the top properties for sale in Singapore.  

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Are you looking to hire a renovation contractor for your HDB flat? Read this article to learn all about the best practices and hidden costs.

Home Improvement

Are you looking to hire a renovation contractor for your HDB flat? Read this article to learn all about the best practices and hidden costs.

Click HERE to get more interesting guides like this, or check out PropertyGuru.

Property Guides

Click HERE to get more interesting guides like this, or check out PropertyGuru.

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