The day is finally here and you are collecting your keys for your HDB flat - be it a BTO or resale flat, there are probably areas of the home you would like to renovate or do some light remodelling to make it into your “dream home”.
However, before you start making grand plans on hacking away half of the house, please note that HDB flat renovations require permits as well! Yes, you heard right. Not every kind of renovation could be allowed right away, and there are also do and don'ts for certain renovations in HDB flats. The onus would be on you to clear those conditions and ensure that the permits are all in place before the renovation can take place. This ensures that the integrity and structure of the flat structure is maintained for the safety of your neighbours.
For starters, you need to ensure that the renovation contractor you are working with is listed in the Directory of Renovation Contractors. This will ensure that they are aware of all the regulations, and can walk you through what you are allowed and not allowed to do when it comes to renovating your place.
Doors and entrance
From the entrance, the first item you might want to change would be the door - most likely, the door you currently have doesn't match the overall mood that you are going for inside. However, do you know that you require a permit to replace your main entrance door if it is situated along a fire escape route? Meaning that if it is facing a staircase or the lift lobby, you will also need a permit before changing the entrance door, as it is news to be half-hour fire-rated and complete with a door closer. It will therefore come as no surprise that changing of door location and entrances will also require permits as well.
Next, the floor finishes might also have been on the top of your list to replace - be it colours that don’t sit right with your incoming furniture, or the wear and tears causing the floor tiles to fade in colour or turn mouldy. However, for this you would require a permit to remove them and replace new ones. Raising or removing the previous owner’s floor raises will also require a permit, since they are also structural changes as well. The reason being that hacking away the floor finishes may cause the flat structure to weaken, in turn creating undue stress on the maintenance of the flat condition.
Walls and demolition works
The same can be said for walls, where hacking away walls to combine rooms will also require a permit to ensure that the demolition works will not cause instability or damage the structural integrity of the flat. The set of rules will also apply to construction of new arches and rounded corners around the house.
A faster and more affordable way of getting past this would be to put wallpapers or plastering walls on the existing wall structures, which will bypass the requirement for permits.
Next, toilet restructuring would be a concern as well. If you are thinking of remodeling your toilet completely, know that wall or floor finishes can only be demolished after 3 years of staying at your BTO flat to protect the waterproofing works.
Next, another concern could be the windows, which you want to change to match the ambience of the rooms. Permits are also required to install or change the windows and remove the grills at the balcony area. Also, replacement of full height or 3/4 height windows are also not allowed.
For window works, to prevent complications and accidents, you will also need to engage a BCA-approved window contractor so that they can walk you through the necessary steps to make the changes you need. Being registered with HDB, they will be in a good position to advise and help install or replace your flat’s windows according to HDB’s safety requirements.
Renovation permits and their expiry
After applying for a HDB renovation permit, do note that it can expire as well. For BTO flats, do note that approved renovations must be completed within 3 months to minimise the noise and inconvenience to the neighbours. If you think that resale flats have it better, you got that wrong - even though resale flats might need more work, their deadline would be within 1 month! For both situations, your renovation contractor will also need to inform your neighbours by putting up the Notice of Renovation, which has to state the stipulated start date and end date.
Renovations can be tricky as each home is different. If thinking through what is best for your dream home is overwhelming, fret not - get dedicated guidance and help from someone with the right experience and knowledge. For detailed information catered to your needs, reach out to us to find out more.