Collected your keys and excited to renovate your HDB flat? Make sure you learn about the permits required and renovation guidelines before starting on your renovation works! 

Permits? What Permits?

As the home owner, you are responsible for ensuring that all permits required for your flat’s renovations are obtained from HDB before the works begin. 

HDB requires these permits to ensure that the renovations you plan on doing do not affect the structure of your flat. This helps to keep you and your neighbours safe!

Do note that the renovation contractor you are engaging must be listed in the Directory of Renovation Contractors, which means they are aware of HDB’s requirements when they carry out renovations, and to protect the structural integrity of the building. 

Floor Finishes

You will need a permit if you are thinking of removing existing floor finishes and replacing them with floor finishes of your choice. You also need a permit to raise the level of the floors in your kitchen, balcony, bathroom or toilet – doing these works incorrectly can add unnecessary stress on the floor slab of the flat and weaken the overall structure of the flat.

Kitchen island with bar stools around in an HDB flat
Hardy and cost-efficient, vinyl is a popular flooring option that can be quickly laid above existing tiles, long as it complies with HDB’s guidelines on replacing floor finishes.

Walls

Before you hack down any walls in your flat, you need to obtain a permit from HDB to ensure that the demolition works do not compromise the structural integrity of the flat.

Similarly, any construction of arches or rounded corners to existing openings also requires HDB’s approval before it can be carried out.

Archways in HDB flats
HDB’s approval is required for construction of arches or rounded corners
Home Tours: An Urban Sanctuary with a Vintage Twist,  A Bold, Eclectic Home

Replacing internal wall finishes? You need a permit too to prevent any tampering of existing wall structures. Just putting wallpaper, or plastering your walls? No permit needed!

Doors

You need a permit to replace your main entrance door, if it is situated along a fire escape route i.e. facing a staircase or lift lobby. The replacement door and the frame of the door must be half hour fire-rated, and complete with a door closer. 

Changing the location of doors within the flat also requires a permit from HDB, to ensure that the hacking works involved do not affect the structural integrity of the flat. 

Bathrooms/ Toilets

You will have to wait 3 years before removing any wall or floor finishes in the toilets of your BTO flat. Otherwise, the waterproofing works in these wet areas might become damaged.

Tiled bathrooms in HDB flats
Instead of hacking away the original tiles, overlay them with the tiles of your choice. For more bathroom renovation tips, read The Basics of Bathroom Renovation!

After 3 years, if you decide to change the flooring or wall finishes of your bathrooms and toilets, or extend your bathroom/ toilet, you will need to get a permit from HDB.

Air-Conditioner Installation Works

If you buy a BTO flat, and the compressor of the air-conditioner is going to be installed at the air-conditioner ledge, you do not have to apply for a permit from HDB before the installation. 

However, if you bought a resale flat that is still using a 30 Amps main switch, you must get a permit from HDB before installing air-conditioner units using new 15 Amps power point or new 20 Amps isolator.

You need to submit an air-conditioner installation report if you plan on installing your air-conditioner on building exterior, or if any part of the air-conditioner projects outwards from the building.

Window Works

Permits are needed if you want to install or change your flat’s windows or the grilles at your service yard or balcony. The design of the windows and grilles must also comply with the colour and design scheme approved by HDB, so that your flat does not look too different from your neighbours’ when viewed from the outside.

Replacement of full height and ¾ height windows such as the above is strictly not allowed

To prevent accidents from happening, only engage BCA-approved window contractor registered with HDB for the installation and replacement of your flat’s windows and ensure that all works comply with HDB’s safety requirements.

 Applying for an HDB Renovation Permit

You can authorise your renovation contractor to submit an electronic renovation application on your behalf. Removing or repositioning fittings, hacking down or constructing walls? Scans of the layout plans, elevations, sections or details of the proposed works must be submitted together with your application. 

Once HDB receives the application, an SMS notification will be sent to you. You can view your renovation permit on My HDBPage once it has been granted. 

Do HDB Renovation Permits Expire?

After you obtained the approval from HDB for your renovations, ensure that they are carried out as soon as possible, as these permits come with expiry dates. For new BTO flats, the approved renovations must be completed within 3 months. Resale flats have a shorter deadline – renovation works must be completed within a month, to minimise inconvenience to your existing neighbours.

The renovation contractor must comply with the stipulated timings for carrying out renovations. Remind your contractor to inform your neighbours and put up the Notice of Renovation indicating the start and end date of your renovations outside your flat early, so that your neighbours can make their own plans to avoid the noise and dust during this time, if necessary.

Bonus: Coping with Noisy Renovation Works

Do you have neighbours who are renovating their flat instead? We know it can get challenging at home with noisy renovation works going on around you, such as if you work from home.

You can maintain friendly relations with your neighbours by reaching out to them. Let them know if there are specific days or timeslots that might be of particular concern (e.g. important meetings or interview), so both parties can address it together. 

If necessary, you may approach your grassroots leader or other neighbours to act as a mediator when communicating with your new neighbour.

This nifty infographic explains common light renovations that do not require HDB’s approval:

  • Kay Liao

    Resident sysadmin and brand guardian. Passionate about research and font size consistency. Collects languages, ceramics and house plants in her spare time.

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