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 you turn your new property into your dream home. However, the renovation process for HDBs is not as straightforward as it might seem. Before you can begin, you should know about the areas that require an HDB renovation permit to be approved.  

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

So allow us to break the renovation permit rules down for you:

What Is an HDB Renovation Permit and Why Do You Need One?

Apply for your HDB permit in advance to avoid heavy fines

First and foremost, let’s understand what these permits, including the HDB permit, 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 the HDB renovation permit document can lead to your renovation being classified as unauthorised. 

Also Read: What Is the Average Cost of Renovation for a 3-, 4- and 5-Room HDB Flat in Singapore?

If you do not secure a HDB renovation license, 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 them. This 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 set by the HDB that need to be followed. To check the HDB renovation permit as well as other details, see this page.

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 before you apply for your HDB renovation permit.

HDB Renovation Timings to Keep in Mind

TypePermitted TimingsFrequency
General Renovation9 AM – 6 PMWeekdays and Saturdays
Noisy Renovation9 AM – 5 PMWeekdays only*
DIY Renovation9 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 changes that will need an HDB renovation permit before you proceed:

#1: Floor Treatments/Replacements

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, based on your choice of material, can really change the aesthetic of your space. 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, a renovation permit for your HDB is mandatory.

Also Read: 5 Types of Reno Work That Increase Your HDB Valuation

#2: Sanitation, Plumbing and Related Work in Bathrooms

Seek professional support if you’re unsure about renovation processes, especially in the bathroom

Bathrooms can be one area where new homeowners 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, as per HDB renovation permit guidelines. This is because the 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

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, you cannot hack away at them without a renovation permit from HDB. 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 the HDB to see what can and cannot be changed. In addition, you will also need to secure an HDB renovation 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

Go through the prescribed HDB renovation guidelines before investing in a new window design

Following HDB permit guidelines might not seem like a big deal when it comes to changing your windows. However, 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 contractors approved by the Building Construction Authority (BCA) have the clearance to replace and install your windows. 

Similarly, these HDB renovation guidelines also ensure that your windows do not deviate from that of the rest of the housing estate’s design. Therefore, whichever windows you choose 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 the HDB’s approved list of designs. You can find these details in the factsheet 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

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. However, this does not mean that you cannot replace your doors without a permit. 

To replace 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

Always check the requisite renovation guidelines of the 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 without having to worry about an overload. Once you have your unit installed, 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 HDB renovation permit, based on the capacity of your main switch.

#7: Redesigning Staircases

Get your dream railing design approved by the HDB before you try to install it

Not every HDB home might have a built-in staircase, but in case yours does, you should 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 the HDB to procure your HDB permit and get started on the reno.

#8: Gas Works

Ensure you have the requisite permits for the gasworks in your HDB kitchen

As per the HDB renovation permit guidelines, the following gasworks are subject to certain conditions:

  • Enclosure/encasement of the gas riser pipe using lightweight non-combustible materials
  • Relocation of the gas meter
  • Removal of the gas branch pipe (after the sub-meter)
  • Installation of a gas water heater/gas oven

The aforementioned gasworks need to be carried out by City Energy Pte Ltd or a Licensed Gas Service Worker (LGSW).

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 a renovation permit.

Minute Drilling/Cosmetic Changes

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

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 any HDB permit.

Light Electrical Work

Try to avoid making any major changes with electrical wiring

Simple rewiring work can be done without HDB involvement. 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, as you might require an HDB renovation permit.

Time Taken by the HDB to Approve a Renovation Permit

The time taken by HDB to approve a permit can be up to three weeks. However, this duration might be shorter if the renovation does not include any hacking or reconfiguration of bathrooms.

How to Apply for an HDB Renovation Permit?

To apply for an HDB renovation permit, you will need the help of a renovation contractor. They will submit an electronic renovation application form on your behalf. You will need to provide him/her with an acknowledgement form signed by you, which will then be attached with your application.

Do HDB Permits Expire?

Once you receive an approval, you need to carry out the renovation work as soon as possible as these permits come with expiration dates. For instance, for new BTO flats, the renovation needs to be completed within three months. For resale flats, this deadline can be as short as a month.

HDB Renovation Permit Guidelines: Things You Shouldn’t Do

  • Don’t rush your contractor as this might result in sloppy outcomes
  • While planning your timeline, take into consideration holidays and peak periods
  • Do not neglect regular checks of your flat’s renovation progress

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.

Cost of Renovation for Different HDB Properties (Based on 2023 Rates)

Type of PropertyScope of WorkCost Range for Renovation*
HDB 3-room BTOFull home design**$15,457***
HDB 3-room ResaleFull home design**** $39,419*****
*Singapore Dollars
**Full home design includes carpentry, masonry, flooring, ceiling, plumbing, electrical work, painting and hacking, protection, kitchen, bedroom, living room, entrance, cleaning and glass
***This is an average for a 3-room BTO exclusive of GST. Prices mentioned are averages and will vary depending upon multiple factors

**** Full home design includes carpentry, masonry, flooring, ceiling, plumbing, electrical work, painting and hacking, protection, kitchen, bedroom, living room, entrance, cleaning, demolition, tiles, waterproofing and flooring (vinyl)
***** This is an average for a 3-room resale flat exclusive of GST. Prices mentioned are averages and will vary depending upon multiple factors

Renovation Costs by Size of BTOs (Based on 2023 Rates)

BTOCost for Renovation (average)*
2 Room$11,979*
3 Room$15,457*
4 Room$18,070*
5 Room$18,586*
*Singapore Dollars. Exclusive of GST. Prices mentioned are averages and will vary depending upon multiple factors

Cost by Size of Resale Properties (Based on 2023 Rates)

Resale PropertiesCost for Renovation (average)*
3 Room$39,419*
4 Room$43,464*
5 Room$45,170*
*Singapore Dollars. Exclusive of GST. Prices mentioned are averages and will vary depending upon multiple factors

Percentage of Renovation Cost Per Service (Based on 2023 Rates)

Renovation Service Percentage of Cost*
Electricals (Estimated)9%
Glass – Shower Screen3%
Flooring – Overlay Vinyl9%
Ceiling – Subject to Design2%
*Percentage of total cost
**Hacking of 1 kitchen and 2 bathrooms
***Retiling of 1 kitchen and 2 bathrooms
****With 20ft cabinetry and 10ft worktop
*****Piping of entire house and installation of accessories

Disclaimer: Please note that all the prices mentioned above are indicative from our 2023 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! If you’re wondering how we can be of help, here are a few important things a Livspace designer can assist you with:

  • Our interior designers have the knowledge and experience to know 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.

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.

We hope you found our ideas useful! If you want your home to be just as beautiful, then look no further. Book an online consultation with Livspace today.

Have some comments or suggestions you’d like to share with us? We’re all ears! Feel free to write to us at


1. How Much Does It Cost to Renovate an HDB Flat?

The cost to renovate an HDB flat will depend upon the size, number of rooms, scope of the project and other factors.

2. How Do I Check My HDB Renovation Permit?

For your HDB renovation permit status, go to My HDBPage and check My Flat > Purchased Flat > Renovation.

3. How Long Does It Take for the HDB to Approve a Renovation Permit?

It can take up to three weeks or less, depending upon the scope of the renovation project.

4. Can HDB Renovation Permit Be Extended?

No, HDB permits come with an expiration date.

Disclaimer: All contents of the story are specific to the time of publication. Mentions of costs, budget, materials, and finishes can vary with reference to current rates. Talk to our designer for more details on pricing and availability.