When in Singapore, it is common for home buyers to zero down on a property that falls under the HDB category. Buying a new home and making plans for its renovation is always exciting, but when it comes to HDB Renovation there are various guidelines that you need to follow, along with getting proper permits, failing which the renovation would be considered as illegal, and you might even be fined for the same.
To ensure that you are in sync with the government mandates, it is extremely important to know the workings of this area. To simplify this and make you understand the process clearly, we have built a comprehensive list of changes that require HDB Renovation permits, and also those which don’t require it.
HDB Renovation Permit explained
When you start planning for your HDB 2 Room Flat Renovation, HDB 3 Room Flat Renovation, HDB 4 Room Renovation, or HDB 5 Room Flat Renovation, you need to have proper approvals in place before you actually start the work.
There are specific works that require official approval, which come in the form of HDB renovation permits. Without possessing these permits you are not allowed to do any kind of work that requires breakages of walls, realigning the windows and doors, chipping off the old floor and wall tiles and replacing them with new ones, and so on.
If you are not in charge of these legal documents, you might as well be ready to pay the penalty as your renovation stands as unauthorized, and you might be ordered to reinstate your flat to its original condition within a stipulated time frame.
There are certain precincts that have additional guidelines that you need to comply with in order to carry on with your work smoothly. Additionally, there are some areas that don’t require permits, but there are still strict guidelines to be followed around this space too, and you need to be cautious while renovating these areas which will be explained in detail ahead.
You might be asked to submit specific documents pertaining to the nature of the renovation you want to carry on with. Some common documents include layout plans as well as the proposed design that you are wanting to implement. These legalities are generally handled by your HDB Registered Contractor.
One thing to be noted here is to hire a reliable person or company who can carry on the process right from filing the documents to procuring the permits to renovating your home smoothly. You can get the HDB Renovation Contractor list from Carousell which lists well-experienced HDB Contractors and companies who have a good past record. You can also check HDB Renovation Contractor Review on the website to shortlist the best ones.
There are also specific timings between which you need to carry on your work, explained below:
|General Renovation||8 AM – 6 PM||Daily|
|Noisy Renovation||9 AM – 5 PM||Weekdays only*|
|DIY Renovation||8 AM – 6 PM**||Daily|
- Noisy renovations are not permissible on weekends and public holidays
- DIY renovation work is not permitted between 10:30 PM and 7 AM to avoid disturbance to other residents
When do you require an HDB Renovation Permit, and what precautions are to be taken while doing the work?
HDB Renovation Permit is required if you carry on the following activities specified below:
- Flooring replacement
Flooring is an integral part of your home design that changes its aesthetics drastically. When you purchase an HDB flat, the first thing you want to do is to replace the flooring tiles with something attractive and impressive.
However, if changing the flooring requires hacking or breaking, you will need an HDB permit to proceed further. Also, any tiling work in the kitchen which requires hacking will also call for the same.
Apart from obtaining a permit, you will also have to follow certain guidelines like the new floor finish must not exceed 5 cm, and if you are raising it, the heights between the floor and window should not be less than 1 meter.
Nevertheless, there are certain ways in which you can enhance the flooring without having to apply for a permit. One fine option is to overlay your floors with vinyl flooring. Only if you are making any kind of structural or elevation changes, you will require an HDB hacking permit.
- Hacking or restructuring the walls
If you are planning to go for an open space design, you just cannot hold down any wall from its original position. Any wall which holds the structure or is load bearing cannot be pulled down. You have to check the floor plan of your flat to make sure the walls you are hacking are not sensitive to the structure.
You are free to break any walls which are non-structural, but before that, you need to do proper evaluation and receive approvals beforehand. For statement walls, while laying down the new finish, make sure its thickness doesn’t exceed 2.5 cm.
- Realignment of doors
Before realigning or changing the position of any door, make sure that you don’t demolish any load bearing columns or walls which support the structure.
You can most certainly replace the doors without a permit, and that includes the main doors too unless they are situated along a fire escape route. However, for any internal door that needs to be relocated, it’s better to apply for an HDB permit before doing the work.
- Replacing windows
You need to adhere to HDB’s guidelines in order to make any changes to your windows. The new windows need to be of a similar size as the original ones. For example, Casement windows can only be 50 cm to 70 cm wide, and sliding windows need to be 50 cm to 120 cm wide.
Also, to install grills on balconies and service yards, you need approval by the HDB. The grill designs also have to be followed as per the guidelines which are provided in the fact sheet of your HDB flat.
- Modifying the staircase
If you want to make any changes in the staircase provided by HDB, you need to apply for permits from both HDB and Building Construction Authority (BCA).
A Professional engineer who is well-versed with the workings of this space will create a design for the BCA to approve. After the approval, you need to submit it to the HDB for its permit.
- Bathroom Renovation
You are not allowed to do any changes in the bathroom for the first three years of your possession, as the waterproofing membrane installed by HDB needs time to stabilize to prevent any water leakage.
After the three-year period is over, you can get a renovation permit to change your tiling. You need to keep in mind that the total thickness of the flooring should not exceed 5 cm and wall finishes should not exceed 2.5 cm.
There are also certain conditions if you want to install any large bathroom fittings like spa pool, shower panels and so on. To make things uncomplicated, appoint an HDB Approved Plumber who can advise you in detail and carry on the job successfully.
- Plumbing and sanitation work
There are certain things like replacing or fixing your wash basin which doesn’t require a permit unless you are repositioning it. The same applies for your kitchen sink too.
An important thing to note here is that all plumbing works that are carried on in HDB flats have to be done only by a Public Utilities Board (PUB) Licensed Plumber.
These work include:
– Replacement or realignment of toilet pan
– Repositioning the wash basin
– Replacing water pipes
– Diversion of pipes from its original position
– Concealing pipes on walls and floors.
- Gas related
For any kind of work related to gas, you have to appoint an Energy Market Authority’s (EMA) licensed gas service professional.
Work related to gas includes:
– Relocation of gas meter
– Installation of gas water heater/gas oven
– Encasement of gas riser pipe
– Removal of gas branch pipe
- Electricals and air conditioner
Any work related to air conditioners have to be carried on by an BCA-trained installer. Furthermore, you also need to submit an installation report and a form from SP Services to HDB.
The kind of air conditioning you install also depends on the electrical load of your main switch. It is highly recommended that you check the electrical loading via HDB’s e-Service.
Which work doesn’t require an HDB Renovation Permit?
Now that you are aware of which works require an HDB permit, let’s have a quick glance on those works which don’t require it.
- Minimal cosmetic changes
Since any kind of DIY changes doesn’t compromise with the structural framework, you can carry on doing it without any HDB permit.
Any kind of light work like drilling walls to hang artworks or decor or even installing brackets for shelves and light fixtures doesn’t call for a permit.
Also ready to buy furniture doesn’t require any kind of drilling or modification as these can be assembled without making any structural or any other changes to the original layout, hence they don’t require a permit.
Easy to assemble cabinets and furniture fall under this category and can be installed without HDB’s involvement.
- Minor electrical work
Any kind of electrical work, including rewiring, can be done minus the HDB permit. However, if there are any major changes, it’s best to hire a Licenced Electrician to carry on with the work.
How to apply for the HDB Renovation Permit form?
HDB Renovation Permit can be applied electronically via the ‘Application for Renovation Permit via Electronic Transaction’ system (APEX) through HDB InfoWEB.
You need your HDB Approved Renovation Contractor to submit the HDB Renovation permit form on your behalf.
The form is vast, but thankfully, only a few details need to be filled in PART III & IV of this form.
Make sure not to make any mistakes or miss out on any information or you will have to reapply again.
To fill in the HDB renovation permit form, you will need:
- Two copies of scaled floor plans
- Signatures of all flat owners for acknowledgment
What is the timeframe for approval of HDB Renovation Permit?
Normally it takes around three weeks for the entire process of HDB renovation permit to be approved. If the renovation work doesn’t involve hacking or breakage of walls and tiles or realigning toilets or sinks, the approval process might be short.
Although the process doesn’t take much time, it is better to apply for it well beforehand in order to complete the entire renovation process on time.
After you have obtained the HDB renovation permit, specific deadlines would be given within which you need to complete your work.
For BTO flats that have been recently posessed by buyers, you get 3 months for completion. If the flat is older, you get a month’s deadline from the date of the HDB renovation permit to complete the renovation work.
How to find an efficient HDB-Approved Contractor?
There are many ways through which you can land yourself a good HDB-approved Contractor. You can browse through HDB’s e-service to get their contact details or else you can browse through Carousell for a vast HDB Renovation Contractor List, to shortlist, and choose the right ones.
HDB Renovation Permits need to be acquired compulsorily in order to start renovation work of a certain nature as mentioned above.
Applying for the permit well before time and following the guidelines mentioned by HDB will help you complete the job without much hassles.
Also hiring the right HDB Approved Contractor will ease out the task of applying for the permit and executing the work with precision.
You just need to follow specific protocols laid down by the HDB, and you are fine to go ahead and complete your renovation work on time, minus any hurdles.