Renovating your first home can feel both exciting and daunting. After all, you may have been planning and saving money for getting the perfect home for years. Renovating an HDB can cost you anything upwards of $32,000 and go up to $39,500. Understanding the entire process from start to finish will help homeowners understand the design process, costing as well as timelines.

So, here’s a handy guide to prepare you well for your first HDB renovation and also ensure that you have fun along the way.

HDB Renovation Step #1: Assess Your Scope

This is the fun part

If you answer this one right, it will answer many other questions that follow—from how much money you need to set aside to the kind of firm you engage and even the time it will take. Do you need a new kitchen? Can your existing furniture be reused? Do you need some structural changes?

This gives you a fair idea of how extensive the renovation needs to be.


Once you know the needs and issues to be addressed, you can get on with the following

  • Get inspired and start collecting design inspiration.
  • See which furniture and fittings are priority (You can also do this room-wise prioritisation)
  • See if you want the renovation done in parts or at a stretch

HDB Renovation Step #2: Sort Your Finances

hdb renovation-calculate budget-check finances
Plan your budget and check your finances

Most renovations complete within 12 weeks and up to 95% of the payment for you HDB renovation will need to be made during this period. It’s time to look at your finance options—savings and home renovation loans—even before you contact an ID firm. This calculation would help you plan your finances and also give you an upper limit for your spending.

If you like to play safe, don’t forget to set aside some money for home insurance as well—no, your mandatory HDB fire insurance usually does not cover furnishings and renovation. On average, a homeowner spends upwards of $20,000 on an HDB renovation. However, this varies greatly based on the size of the HDB and the scope of work involved.

A comparison of HDB resale renovations

The key areas for costing include carpentry, furniture, flooring and appliances. Interested to know more about HDB renovation costs? Click here.

Taking a Renovation Loan

A renovation loan has a lower rate of interest compared to personal loan because banks know you have an asset (your home) and you’re trying to enhance it’s value. However, there are certain restrictions for what the funds can be used for; for example, electrical and wiring, flooring and tiles, etc. Check the processing/admin/handling fee before finalising the bank.


Keep aside a major chunk of your budget for carpentry work such as kitchen cabinets, wardrobes, storage units, etc. These are custom projects and can consume 40-50% of your budget.

HDB Renovation Step #3: Choose an Interior Designer or a Contractor

Always reach out to the experts for such projects

Typically, freelance interior designers (ID) and ID firms are relatively costlier than a contractor. With the former, you can expect more personalised designs, and the latter is usually budget-friendly.

Apart from these traditional options, you can opt for Livspace. We are a one-stop platform for interior design. You can contact us here.


We recommend getting quotes from everyone such that you can make a more informed choice.

How do you decide between an ID and a contractor? Click here.

HDB Renovation Permits

Source: Housing & Development Board

More often than not, you will need a HDB renovation permit approved by government authorities. Check with your ID firm or contractor if they can help you out with securing these permissions and other important tasks.

HDB-Registered Firms

As stated above, HDB renovation permits are essential. So the ID firm you would like to get the renovation done from needs to be HDB-registered. Without the same, carrying out the work is illegal. This is because HDB-registered firms need to adhere to guidelines like the safety, maintaining structural integrity of the building and reducing the nuisance caused to other homeowners.

What if You Like a Designer Without an HDB Permit?

This is no reason to worry as interior designers and platforms usually design and sub-contract the execution. So, simply ensure that the ID or platform you like sub-contracts it to a firm or contractor with an HDB permit.

HDB Renovation Step #4: Check the Timelines

hdb renovation-checking calendar-know renovation timelines
Plan your move-in date based on the renovation timeline

This one is fairly obvious as it helps you estimate your your move-in date, especially for a resale HDB. As costs for alternate housing while your HDB is being renovated can quickly add up, don’t ignore this factor while making a decision about which professional to choose.


Get a schedule from your designer/contractor about the execution of interiors. This lets you know if the work is getting done on time and lets you prepare for contingencies.

HDB Renovation Step #5: Finalise the Design

Pick things you want done first

Finally, sit with your designer to finalise a picture-perfect design. Pick your materials, select your furniture and fittings. As you’ll have a fair idea from your research, you can negotiate the cost of the renovation. Always prefer quality over cost and pick the best. If budget is a concern, invest in items from your priority list and then decorate your home gradually with the other items from your design.


Get information from your designer about:

  • The warranty of products (In case of sub-contracts, who takes ownership)
  • Designer fees and charges
  • Supervision of the execution

HDB Renovation Step #6: Get Your home furnished

You’re almost there now

While the first steps seem exhausting, the execution is where all the magic or disaster happens. So, mandate regular updates from your designer and contractor about the progress of work. It’s the firm or designer’s duty to ensure no damage is caused to any existing interiors or furniture.

Once you keep all these points in mind, your HDB renovation can actually turn into an interesting project. Remember that the key is to hire the right experts and then relax as your home gets ready.


Don’t shy away from asking questions to your designer. Stay in contact with your designer and keep yourself updated on the progress.

But What About Choosing Materials and Finishes?

Everything depends on your budget and personal requirement. First-time homeowners tend to prefer options that are budget-friendly and low maintenance, especially when it comes to the kitchen and bathroom.

Laminate is a popular economical finish for kitchen cabinetry thanks to its wide variety and easy maintenance. Common material options would be plywood, melamine, and particle board.

For the full lowdown on kitchen cabinets, make sure to read How to Design Kitchen Cabinetry Perfect for Your Requirements.

Bonus Tips to Help You

Make sure you follow all the rules set by the Singapore Housing and Department Board. You can also check with the ID for more information.

The below list can also help you plan better:


  • Hire a professional that is a good fit for your plans
  • Along with a designer, you should always measure your rooms and furniture yourself
  • Set up a timeline that is flexible to some extent
  • Set up a budget with an extra 20% range for last minute changes


  • Avoid splurging on decor items like throws and wall treatments without purchasing quality basics
  • Do not opt for bulky furniture for a compact room
  • Do not cut back on quality for price
  • Avoid any construction or installation without a professional

Here’s a Renovation We Did

A living room transformation

Check out this home we renovated in The Riversails for a family. It included major work like painting, electrical, lighting, feature walls, carpentry and bathroom renovation including tiling and plumbing.

Check out these renovations too:

How We Made This Compact 3-Room HDB Look Spacious

Revealing its Exclusive Renovation Secrets: An 85 sqm Home Tour

Lastly, here’s a summary of the steps we discussed

#1. Assess your needs and the scope of your HDB renovation
#2. Plan Your Budget
#3. Hire a professional— interior designer or contractor
#4. Create a schedule for HDB renovation. Prepare for contingencies
#5. Finalise the design
#6. Get ready for the execution of your plan

We hope this helped you! If you need to know more about HDB renovations, take a look at our First-time Homeowners guide. P.S: You can also check these HDB renovation ideas for inspiration.

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