Buying a new home is always an exciting part of adulthood. But when it comes to HDBs, what you get might not always be exactly what you want. An easy fix for this is to go in for a home renovation which can help tweak your new property into your dream home. However, the renovation process for HDBs is not as straightforward as it might seem. There are a few areas that require an HDB permit to be approved before going into the renovation. 

To ensure you’re in line with the government mandates, it’s best to understand the various areas where an HDB permit is essential. To simplify this for you, we’ve built a comprehensive list of changes that require an HDB renovation permit. As well as a few that don’t. 

So allow us to break this down for you:

What is an HDB Permit and Why Do You Need One?

hdb-permit-application-form
Apply for your HDB permit in advance to avoid being levied with heavy fines

First and foremost, let’s cover what these permits are and why they’re important. An HDB permit is nothing but approval from the Housing and Development Board (HDB) to carry out structural changes within your home. Failure to procure this document can lead to your renovation being classified as unauthorised. 

If you do not secure a permit from HDB, you will be required to restore your home to its original state. Even if certain aspects are allowed to be retained, you might incur a fee for it. This, in turn, can lead to a waste of both time and money that could have been used elsewhere. 

Though there are changes you can make without an HDB renovation permit, there are still renovation guidelines by HDB that need to be adhered to. To apply, you can fill in the permit on MyHDBPage under the ‘renovation’ tab. 

An Important Point to Note

Depending on the changes you want to make, you might need to submit specific documents while applying for your HDB permit. These documents include the layout plan as well as the proposed changes you’re looking to make. Though this is usually handled by your registered renovation contractor, it’s good to know exactly what you’d need beforehand.

Also read: 6 Must-know Steps to Begin Your HDB Renovation

HDB Renovation Timings to Keep in Mind

TypePermitted TimingsFrequency
General Renovation8 AM – 6 PMDaily
Noisy Renovation9 AM – 5 PMWeekdays only*
DIY Renovation8 AM – 6 PM**Daily
*Noisy renovations are not permitted on weekends and public holidays
**DIY renovation work is not allowed between 10:30 PM and 7 AM to avoid disturbing other residents in the housing estate

Types of Renovation Work That Require an HDB Permit

Here are a few works that will need an HDB renovation permit before you proceed to make any changes to your home:

#1: Floor Treatments / Replacements

hdb-permit-hacking-tiled-flooring
For any activity involving hacking, it’s best to get an HDB renovation permit before you start

Flooring is an important part of your home interior design and can really change the aesthetic of your space based on what you use. When you buy an HDB flat, the chances of you getting the flooring material of your dreams can be fairly low. You might want to change the original flooring to something more in line with your style. However, if this change involves hacking or intensive floor treatments, you will need an HDB permit to proceed. 

Nevertheless, there are a few ways you can manage a floor change without a permit. One simple solution is by overlaying your floors with vinyl flooring. But if you’re looking to make structural or elevation changes to your floors, an HDB hacking permit is mandatory.

#2: Sanitation, Plumbing and Related Work in Bathrooms

hdb-permit-hands-fixing-sink-plumbing
Seek professional support if you’re unsure about renovation processes especially in the bathroom

Bathrooms can be one main area where you’d like to make significant improvements. But if you have a new BTO, you might not be able to make changes to the walls and floors until the first three years of ownership. This is because HDB installs a waterproofing membrane that needs time to stabilise before it is replaced. 

During this time, you will only be able to make slight superficial changes to your bathrooms. However, for intensive sanitation and plumbing work, you will need the assistance of a licensed plumber from the Public Utilities Board (PUB).

#3: Breaking Down Walls

hdb-permit-broken-walls-hammer
Need to make structural changes? Be sure to get your HDB hacking permit before you do

Demolishing your walls without the right expertise can compromise the structural integrity of your home. For this reason, HDB does not allow you to hack away at your walls without prior approval. Take special care to ensure that the load-bearing walls are not marked for demolition as this could pose significant risk without prior evaluation.  

You will need to study your floor plan and consult with HDB to see what can and cannot be changed. In addition, you will also need to secure an HDB hacking permit for the same. Similarly, if you’re planning a statement wall for your living room or bedroom, please note that its finish cannot be more than 2.5cm in width.

#4: Changing Your Windows

hdb-permit-striped-rug-large-window-indoor-plant
Go through the prescribed HDB renovation guidelines before investing in a new window design

Following guidelines might not seem like a big deal when it comes to changing your windows, but you have to remember that these guidelines are in place to protect both you and other residents in the housing estate. For this reason, only registered BCA-approved (Building Construction Authority) contractors have the clearance to replace and install your windows. 

Similarly, these guidelines also ensure that your windows do not deviate from that of the rest of the housing estate’s design. Whichever window you choose, they need to be similar to the original you’re looking to replace. 

Despite receiving an HDB permit, changes in window grills will need to follow HDB’s approved list of designs only. You can find these details in the fact sheet you would have received upon purchasing the home.

Measurements Permitted for Some Window Types

Window TypeDimensions
Casement Window50cm – 70cm wide
Sliding Window50cm – 120cm wide

#5: Replacement or Relocation of Doors

hdb-permit-wooden-frame-door-glass-panels
Depending on the location and nature of the door, you might not need a permit

We’ve already covered how hacking is not something you can do without an HDB permit to avoid structural damage. So installing doors in walls of reinforced concrete is certainly not possible either. However, this does not mean that you cannot replace your doors without a permit either. 

For replacing main doors, you won’t necessarily need a permit unless it is situated along a fire escape route. But for any internal door that requires relocation, it’s best to apply for an HDB permit beforehand.

#6: Air-Conditioning Installation

air-con-installation-hands-with-screwdriver
Always check the requisite renovation guidelines by HDB before making major electrical installations

For air-conditioning installation, you will need to approach a BCA-trained technician. But before this, you will also need to check the electric load your main switch carries. This will determine the kind of air-conditioning unit your power board can handle to prevent an overload. Once you have your unit installed, you have to submit your installation report to HDB.   

If you live in a new BTO flat and have a dedicated ledge for your unit, you won’t need an HDB permit for installation. But if you own a resale flat, it’s important to get an electrical permit, based on the capacity of your main switch.

#7: Redesigning Staircases

wooden-staircase-without-rails
Get your dream railing designed approved by HDB before you try to install it

Not every HDB home might have a built-in staircase, but in case you do, it’s helpful to know what you can and cannot do with it. For resale executive maisonettes, you might want to change the HDB-provided railings to something more inclined towards your style. 

But bear in mind that you will require an HDB permit to carry this out, as well as permission from the BCA. To make this happen, you will need to approach a professional engineer to create a new design for approval. Post this, you can submit the approved design to HDB to procure your HDB permit and get started on the reno.

Renovation Work That Doesn’t Require an HDB Permit

Now that you know the many areas that require special permissions, let’s look at changes you can make without involving the HDB.

Minute Drilling / Cosmetic Changes

indoor-plants-hanging-metal-board
Simple installations that do not require invasive drilling can be DIY-ed

Since making superficial DIY changes does not compromise the structural integrity of your home, they can be done without an HDB permit. These changes would include mild drilling to hang up artwork or decor, shelving and simple lighting fixtures.

Installation of Simple Cabinetry

blue-kitchen-cabinets-gold-pulls-white-countertop
Opt for easy-to-assemble units if you want to install them on your own

Some furniture units do not require heavy groundwork for installation. Instead, they can be assembled without making any specific changes to the structure of your home. Easy-assembly cabinets and furniture items that fall under this category can be installed without HDB’s permission.

Light Electrical Work

electrical-wiring-hand-with-screwdriver
Try to avoid making any major changes with electrical wiring

Simple rewiring work can be conducted without the involvement of the HDB. However, if this includes major changes or current capacities that are higher than what your switchboard delivers, it’s best to check with a professional before making any changes.

Price List of Renovation Work Offered by Livspace

The larger the home, the higher the renovation cost. This is true, provided all other factors like type of property and scope of work are constant. Here’s a comprehensive renovation price list by Livspace to help you budget your renovation costs better.

If you still think that you might be going over budget, check out 7 Smart Hacks to Renovate Your Home on a Tight Budget.

Cost of Renovation for Different HDB Properties (Based on 2021 Rates)

Type of PropertyScope of WorkCost Range for Renovation*
HDB BTOKitchen, wardrobe, and furniture***$10,000 – $60,000
HDB ResaleFull home design** + furniture$30,000 – $100,000
*Refers to Singapore Dollars
**Full home design includes carpentry, masonry, flooring, ceiling, plumbing, electrical work, painting and hacking
***Furniture here refers to in-built furniture

Renovation Costs by Size of New Properties (Based on 2021 Rates)

New PropertiesCost for Renovation (starting at)*
2 Room$10,000*
3 Room$14,500*
4 Room$17,500*
5 Room$19,500*
*in Singapore Dollars

Cost by Size of Resale Properties (Based on 2021 Rates)

Resale PropertiesCost for Renovation (starting at)*
3 Room$32,000*
4 Room$36,500*
5 Room$39,500*
*in Singapore Dollars

Percentage of Renovation Cost Per Service (Based on 2021 Rates)

Renovation ServicePercentage of Cost*
Carpentry35%
Masonry25%
Glass & Aluminium11%
Electrical9%
Hacking7%
Ceiling Partition7%
Painting6%
Plumbing5%
*Percentage of total cost

Also read: 5 Amazing Renovation Homes Created By Livspace in 2021

Disclaimer: Please note that all the prices mentioned above are indicative from our 2021 price list and are subject to change. Consult with our interior designers for revised quotes and a better idea of what you can expect to pay.

How Can Livspace Help You?

If you’re considering a home renovation, there’s no better way to get it done than hiring a professional interior designer or contractor. This is where we come in to help! If you’re wondering how, here are a few important things a Livspace designer can assist you with:

  • Being experts, our interior designers understand that good design is far more than just aesthetics. 
  • You can sit back and relax as we cover the groundwork to help you get stunning yet functional interiors. 
  • We specifically plan your home to make the most of your available space. 
  • We personalise spaces in your home to reflect your personality, taste and style.
  • If you want to go for a specific style like Scandinavian or Industrial, our interior designers know exactly how to get the job done. 
  • We can help you save both time and money by avoiding expensive renovation mishaps and mistakes.

When you sign up with Livspace, we include the cost of your interior designer (and quote it separately) along with the total price estimate. This gives you complete clarity on how much you are paying for their services.

pendant-lights-wooden-dining-table-white-rug
Our designers can help create your dream home while following the set renovation guidelines by HDB

What’s more, we’re BCA approved and can help you take care of your HDB permit process to ensure a smooth reno journey. So, when you meet your interior designer for the first time, make sure you ask these essential questions.

two-tone-wall-black-rug-grey-daybed-white-wardrobe
Want a beautifully designed home like this HDB’s study? Get in touch with us!

If you’re confused about whether you need a contractor or an interior designer, check out: How to Pick Between a Renovation Contractor and an Interior Designer? 

We hope you found this article useful! If you want your home to be just as beautiful as our Livspace homes, then look no further. Book an online consultation with Livspace today. Delivering safe home interiors has been our No. 1 priority. Click here to find out how interiors are being delivered following all safety protocols.