Once you get past the exhilarating feeling of holding the keys to your new flat, another exciting project awaits–renovation. Building one’s nest is a massive project, and a big ticket item as well. Here are some things every new HDB flat owner must know before commencing renovation.
1. Open a SP Services Account.
Once you have collected the keys to your house and made payment for insurance, your next step is to open up an Utilities account to activate the water and electricity supply for your home. This can be done quickly at the counter located at HDB Toa Payoh HUB. The queue is quite often short and you should be able to have your account set up within 15 minutes.
Take note that this should be done before a renovation permit is granted.
2. Mind the three-year restriction period on removal of wall and floor finishes in bathrooms.
Fancy a designer bathroom complete with double sinks, marble finishes, and a Grohe rainshower system? Before you go ahead and ask your contractor to rip everything up, take note that new Build To Order (BTO) flats come complete with wall and floor finishing that have waterproofing membranes laid between the cement screed and floor tiles. This is HDB’s waterproofing measure to ensure that water doesn’t leak through your flooring to the flat below. The tiles come with a three-year warranty which will become void should your remove it. However, if you insist on having the flooring of your choice, your contractor can still fulfil your wishes by tiling over HDB’s existing tiles, using adhesive. This is approved by HDB, so you can still achieve the look you want without voiding the warranty.
3. Check before you hack, add, or demolish
Whether you buy a BTO or a resale flat, prior approval from HDB is required before you demolish or hack any wall. HDB will assess if your modifications will affect the structural integrity of the building.
Hacking or removal of reinforced concrete wall, beams, columns, or staircases within a maisonette, for example, are all not HDB-approved. A submission of approval is needed if you intend to build arches and rounded corners. It is also required in situations where the door to the bedroom is repositioned—this permit will usually be granted as long as the entrance is not created through a reinforced concrete wall.
To check if your proposed works can be allowed, your contractor will submit all proposed plans to HDB when applying for the renovation permit.
4. Supervise your renovations!
Once the go-ahead for your renovations is given, your contractor is required to display these permits outside your flat until all renovation work is completed. He must also keep your immediate neighbours informed of the renovation works three days prior to its commencement.
When your renovations starts, it is important to remember that demolition works can only be carried out from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily on weekdays and no more than two handheld power tools are to be used concurrently for hacking down walls or removing wall or floor finishes.
Your contractor is also required to complete all hacking within three days—so keep an eye on the calendar.
5. Choose approved windows and grills.
Whether they are resale units or new BTO flats, windows and window grilles can only be installed by BCA-approved window contractors that are registered with the HDB.
On the day that you collect the keys to your new flat, the HDB officer will hand you a piece of paper detailing the standard grilles that you can put up for your service yard. Do not fret if you misplace it—your contractor will know what you can use for your service yard and the rest of the house.
6. Appoint only HDB-approved Contractors or Interior Designers.
Last but not least, always ensure that you engage an HDB-registered renovation contractor or interior designer to carry out your renovation works as non-HDB approved contractors and IDs are prohibited from carrying out works on your flat. Besides, because they are familiar with the rules and regulations, the HDB-approved contractors and IDs will give you more assurance when it comes to building the home of your dreams.
For more information, check out the List of Registered Renovation Contractors and the List of BCA Approved Window Contractors Listed With HDB
Cover photo by Xiangyun Lim