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. 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
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Understand what you need before a renovation

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 on how extensive the renovation needs to be. Once you know, it’s time for the fun part:.

  • Get inspired and start collecting design inspiration.
  • See which furniture and fittings are priority (You can also do this room-wise prioritization)
  • See if you want the renovation done in parts or at a stretch
HDB Renovation Step #2: Sort your finances
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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 an 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.

The key areas for costing include carpentry, furniture, flooring and appliances.

Pro tip: If you know what kind of furniture you need, browse websites to understand the costing of such designs.

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.

HDB Renovation Step #3: Choose a platform, and ID firm or a contractor
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Hire a professional for big renovation plans

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 which gives you the best of both worlds—personalised designs on a flexible budget. We would recommend getting quotes from everyone such that you can make a more informed choice. An easy way to get several quotes in one go is websites such as Qanvast, Renotalk, etc.


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

HDB-registered firms

For an HDB renovation, you will need to hire an interior designer or contractor with an HDB permit. 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
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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.

Pro tip: 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
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Finalise a design which you like and fits your budget

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 on items from your priority list and then decorate your home gradually with the other items from your design.

Also, 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
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Furnish your home according to the design

While the first steps seem exhausting, this is 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.