From conceptualising the interior theme to familiarising yourself with the HDB renovation guidelines, here’s a step-by-step guide to help navigate your renovation journey.

1.  Consider the Design

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It’s never too early to start thinking about your new home – in fact, some home owners prefer conceptualising the design before collecting the keys to their new home in order to commence on renovation works as soon as possible.

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This is also a good time to consider the type of renovation works that you’re looking to embark on. Examples include carpentry works, flooring and wall hacking.

Pro tips:

  • Create a mood board to collate images of home designs and concepts that you fancy.
  • Keep an eye out for complementary furniture and appliances as they would influence your carpentry, tile works, placement of your electrical points or even configuration of your home spaces. Having these in mind early can help facilitate discussion with your interior designer (ID) or contractor.

Our favourite sources of inspiration? Pinterest, Instagram and of course, MyNiceHome!

2. Set a Budget

Depending on the extent of works, it’s important to determine a budget before embarking on the actual renovation works. Not only can this help with prioritising and adjusting the scope of work, having a budget will also better allow you to decide on the materials.

For starters, consider getting quotes from different interior designers/ HDB licensed contractors, to have a better understanding of the cost of the line items. To better understand the cost breakdown, don’t be afraid to ask for details, such as the materials used.

3. Engage an Interior Designer/ HDB Licensed Contractor

Engaging a good interior designer (ID) or HDB licensed contractor takes the guesswork out of renovation and lets you focus on other aspects such as home furnishings and other paperwork.

Besides dedicating ample time for selection, it’s important to ensure that the ID shows understanding of your needs and requirements, and your desired concept. They should also be responsive to queries and receptive to feedback, to work with you on ideas or suggest viable alternatives where need be.

When engaging a renovation contractor, it is important to engage only those listed in the Directory of Renovation Contractors. This also applies to renovations which do not require HDB’s prior approval.

The Directory of Renovation Contractors lists contractors who are familiar with HDB renovation guidelines, rules and requirements which are in place to protect the structural integrity of the building. You can view the Directory of Renovation Contractors on HDB InfoWEB, or via the Mobile@HDB app.

That said, HDB does not endorse or guarantee the quality of the renovations. The HDB licensed contractor will be fully responsible for the contractual responsibilities towards you, their client, including workmanship.

Pro tips:

  • Do your research – ask for recommendations and study the IDs’ portfolio and customer reviews. Some questions to keep in mind – does their style meet your personal preferences? How are the reviews for their service and workmanship?
  • Shortlist and meet up with the IDs or contractors to discuss your plans and expectations.
  • Again, compare quotations while bearing in mind that the extent of work and materials used can make quite a difference in the costs.

4. Submit a Renovation Application

You and your HDB licensed contractor must obtain HDB’s prior approval before starting any demolishing and/ or hacking of walls, whether partially or fully. This mandatory requirement protects residents’ safety, as unauthorised demolishing and/ or hacking of walls may affect the structural integrity of the building.

For renovations works that require HDB’s prior approval, ensure that your HDB licensed contractor submits an online renovation application to HDB together with the acknowledgement form signed by you, the flat owner, before commencing work.

You will receive a Short Message Service (SMS) notification upon the submission of the renovation application by your renovation contractor. To view the status of your renovation permit application, log in to My HDBPage (My Flat > Purchased Flat > Renovation) on HDB InfoWEB.

Learn more about HDB renovation permits here. You can also read up on HDB renovation guidelines and important information for works that can be done in your flat on the HDB InfoWEB.

5. Contact Other Agencies on Related Works

During the renovation process, you will most likely require other services such as air-conditioner installation.

If you plan to mount your air-conditioner on the exterior of your flat, or if any part of the air-conditioner will project from your flat, you must engage a BCA-trained air-conditioner installer. Once the air conditioning unit has been installed, you will also need to email the installation report to the HDB Branch managing your flat.

Check out the list of other works below to find out if a licensed worker/ contractor is required:


6. Keep Renovations to Permitted Hours

Noise from renovation works can be disruptive to your neighbours, especially those who have young children, or are working from home. Here are easy ways to maintain harmonious relations with our neighbours:

  • Inform your neighbours staying within a radius of 2 units at least 3 days in advance before renovations begin. Do remind your contractor to put up the Notice of Renovation outside your flat early and throughout the renovation period.
  • As part of the HDB renovation guidelines, only carry out renovation work between the stipulated timings below:
  • If you plan to carry out DIY (Do-It-Yourself) works, do limit it between 7:00am and 10:30pm, and keep noise to a minimum.
  • When possible, close the main door of your flat while works are ongoing, to help reduce noise disturbance to your neighbours and do remember to inform them in advance of any works that may generate noise.

7. Manage Payment and Any Renovations Dispute

The renovation contract between flat owners and their HDB licensed contractor is a private one, and not regulated by any government agency. If there are disputes over the renovation such as pricing, costs, work schedule, type or quality of renovations, these should be resolved between both parties.

If you are facing challenges with settling the matter amicably, both parties may approach the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE), Singapore Mediation Centre or the Small Claims Tribunals for assistance or seek legal redress.

8. Use the Lifts Properly

Renovating and moving into your new home is an exciting time for all home owners! However, it can also be hectic, dusty, and noisy. Movers and contractors carrying bulky items will be a common sight, and lifts may take a slightly longer time to arrive.

Remind your contractors or vendors avoid jamming the lift doors when moving materials and furniture as this can damage the lifts, causing inconvenience and delay to other lift users.

9. Keep your Neighbourhood Clean

Unwanted items such as packing materials and renovation debris discarded around your estate can potentially create safety and health hazards and will mar the image of your estate.

Do remind your delivery persons, movers and contractors to dispose of renovation debris and unwanted items properly by carting them to disposal sites. They should not wash or flush debris into the sewage system or dispose of bulky items into the refuse chute, as this could cause damage and inconvenience you and your neighbours. 

You may report instances of lift misuse and dumping of debris in the common areas via the OneService website or app.


10. Care for Your Home Regularly

Finally, it’s important to carry out regular checks on the fittings and fixtures in your home. This can help you spot areas that require attention before they become serious and save you money on major repairs – check out the guide to home maintenance for more tips.

With these key tips in mind, renovating and maintaining your flat can be pleasant and stress-free. Posting photos of your newly renovated home on Instagram? Tag us @mynicehome – we would love to feature it!

To help you settle into your new home, do read our other guides on moving into your new home and home insurance.

  • Farihin Khairunan

    Writer who believes that the simplest words make the greatest impact. Spends all her money on pretty notebooks that she will most probably never use.

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