HDB HIP (Home Improvement Programme) Guide: Free Upgrades, Optional Costs and More Tips (2021)

PropertyGuru Editorial Team
If your HDB flat is 30 years or older, it’s likely that it will be selected by HDB for the Home Improvement Programme, or HDB HIP, for short.
Announced by HDB in 2007 as a replacement for the Main Upgrading Programme (MUP), HIP is a refurbishment scheme for older HDB flats. Since then, a majority of the 320,000 selected flats have undergone upgrading works. These flats are built up to 1986.
The HDB HIP helps HDB flat owners address typical maintenance issues in ageing flats – such as spalling concrete and ageing pipes – with upgrading works done in a comprehensive and systematic manner to reduce inconvenience to residents.
Some of the latest projects include a plan to upgrade 230,000 flats with retractable clothes drying racks, to make doing laundry safer and more convenient.
Apart from making your HDB flat more livable and safe, HIP also helps to improve your flat’s value as it ages.

Here’s How the HDB Home Improvement Programme (HDB HIP) Works

Once your HDB block has been selected for the HDB HIP, HDB will hold a poll for the Singapore citizens of the block and work will only proceed when at least 75% vote in favour. Note that Singapore Permanent Residents (SPRs) are not eligible to vote.
While the government will subsidise up to 95% of the cost, residents of the flats will need to pay the remainder, which is between $630 and $1,575.
HDB flats typically undergo two Home Improvement Programmes throughout the 99-year lease. The first will commence once the lease reaches 30 years, while the second HDB HIP will happen when the flat reaches 60-70 years.
However, some exceptions can occur\ where residents do opt-out of certain works. For instance, sometimes residents may request not to change their pipes if they’ve had recently changed the iron pipes during their own renovation works. However, do note the pipes will be inspected before the request is approved and you would need to sign an undertaking to repair/replace the iron pipe should it leak or become faulty.

What Upgrades Can You Expect From the Home Improvement Programme?

There are basically three kinds of upgrades under HDB HIP:
  1. Essential improvements
  2. Optional improvements
  3. Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE)
Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

1. Essential improvements

Rusty piping and ceiling cracks in a HDB flat before the Home Improvement
Rusty piping and ceiling cracks in an HDB flat before the Home Improvement Programme upgrade. Source: HDB
Rusty piping and ceiling cracks fixed in a HDB flat after the Home Improvement Programme works
Rusty piping and ceiling cracks were fixed in an HDB flat after the Home Improvement Programme upgrade. Source: HDB
These upgrades are extended to all HDB flat owners.
The good news is that you don’t have to fork out a single cent for these improvement works, as the government will fully bear the costs.
Upgrades that fall under this category include the following:
  • Electrical supply upgrades
  • Installation of drying racks for clothes
  • Fixing of any structural cracks and spalling concrete
  • Replacing of soil or waste discharge stacks

2. Optional Improvements (e.g. HDB HIP Toilet Design)

You also have the flexibility to opt-in for certain improvements.
As mentioned, the government will subsidise a substantial portion of the costs, however, residents will still have to pay between $630 to $1,575 to cover the rest. The cost depends on your flat type and the enhancements that you choose.
These are some of the upgrades you can opt for:
  • New ornate metal grille gate
  • New decorative door
  • New garbage chute hopper
  • Improvement of all existing toilets and bathrooms in your flat
Note that should you decide to opt-out of the optional toilet improvement package, HDB’s contractors will still conduct a water test on your bathrooms to check if there are any leaks to the flat below yours.

3. EASE improvements

Ramps installed within and/or at the entrance of flats through the HIP’s EASE improvements
Ramps installed within and/or at the entrance of flats through the HIP’s EASE improvements (Source: HDB)
There’s also the Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) programme. Falling under HDB HIP, the EASE programme allows HDB flat owners to have certain improvements incorporated in their homes (such as ramps) to make them more elderly-friendly while protecting the well-being of senior citizens. What’s more, the improvements are provided at a highly subsidised rate.
Some of the improvements under HDB EASE include the following:
  • Installation of grab bars in the flat and flat toilets
  • Anti-slip treatment for floor tiles in up to two bathrooms
  • Installation of up to five ramps, provided there are level differences within the flat and/or at main entrances where there is a single step.

How Much Do I Need to Pay for the Home Improvement Programme Works?

Let’s take a look at much you’ll need to pay for the different improvements.

1. Essential Improvements

Singaporeans don’t have to pay for essential improvements, as the cost will be fully borne by the government.

2. Optional Improvements

The table below shows the estimated amount Singapore citizens have to pay for optional improvements under the HIP.
1- to 3-room
These prices are estimates from the HDB website and subject to GST. As you can see, the costs of these improvements are highly subsidised. Usually, you will know what the final amount is after the upgrading works have been completed.

3. EASE Improvements

Similarly, the government heavily subsidises EASE improvements. EASE improvements cost $2,500 per flat, and residents only need to pay a small fraction of the cost.
The table below shows the amount Singapore citizens have to pay under the HIP, depending on what type of package you choose (single-step ramp, portable ramp, or customised ramp).
1- to 3-room
$125 to $192
$187.50 to $288
$250 to $384
$312.50 to $480
Source: HDB

Do I Quality for HDB HIP If I’m a Permanent Resident?

Unfortunately, PR households have to bear the full upgrading cost for essential improvements, and any optional and EASE improvements they have chosen.
However, if you’re a PR, you get to be reimbursed with the upgrading subsidy if you become a Singapore citizen within 12 months from the HDB HIP billing date.

How Long Will the HDB HIP Upgrades Take?

For individual HDB flats, internal renovation works usually take 4 days if there are no toilet upgrades involved. If toilet upgrades are involved, the HIP works will take about 10 days.

Tips for Preparing for HDB HIP Works (and Where to Do a Number Two)

Prior to commencing improvement works in your home, the contractor will provide you with plastic coverings to protect your furniture and other belongings from debris arising from the renovation works.
It’s a good idea to keep your important items and documents in sealed containers or drawers. You should also seal up your bedroom, putting damp towels or cloth in the gap between the door and floor to keep debris from flying in.
It’s also advisable to apply for leave from work so that you can keep an eye on the upgrading works being carried out at your home.
Have HIP works scheduled for your home? HDB will notify you a month before the improvement works begin at your flat, and subsequently two weeks before commencement. A reminder call or visit will also be made three days before.
While you might be looking forward to that long-overdue bathroom upgrade, you’ll be unable to use your bathroom while the HIP improvements are being done to it.
But not to worry, you won’t have to go on a water fast just so you don’t need to go to the bathroom! Neither will you have to forego your daily showers.
Here’s what HDB will put in place for you:
  • A portable toilet with a showerhead and tap will be installed in your kitchen, and yes, there will be hot water.
  • A common toilet will also be installed in your block’s void deck.
If the above isn’t quite ideal for you and you happen to live near family, you can always pop by for a shower!

The Government’s Home Improvement Programme Plans Moving Forward: HDB HIP II and More

During the National Day Rally in August 2018, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that another 230,000 flats will be upgraded, with the HIP extended to HDB blocks built in the years up to 1997. The HIP originally covered flats constructed in the years up to 1986, as well as those that did not undergo the previous MUP.
What’s more, the expanded programme will also comprise a new component: the HDB HIP II. Under this new component, all HDB flats will be given a second round of upgrading once they reach the 60 to the 70-year mark.
Then in Oct 2019, it was announced that more than $1 billion will be spent on public and private housing estates. It was in 2020, where HDB HIPs began for flats built between 1987 and 1997.
Out of the 230,000 flats to be upgraded, upgrades will begin for the first batch of 55,000 flats that are 30 years old and above. The remaining 175,000 flats will be scheduled progressively when they are about 30 years old. All in all, the upgrading should complete over the next 10 years or so. However, with recent hikes in construction and renovation costs, it’s likely upgrading projects and timelines will continue to be pushed back
In March 2021, it was reported about 215,000 out of 320,000 flats built up to 1986 have undergone upgrading works. And a of 31 March 2020, $3.2 billion has been spent on the HDB HIP programme.
Sure sounds like good news for those living in older HDB flats!

More FAQs about HDB HIP

What is HDB HIP?

HDB HIP is an upgrading work that is heavily subsidised by HDB to refurbish and maintain older flats.

Can HIP Be Paid with CPF?

Yes, you can do so in full or via monthly instalments.

How Do I Pay My HIP Bill?

Some ways to pay your HIP bill include your CPF via Singpass, PayNow, or AXS channels.
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