Things to Do to Keep Renovation Process Fuss-Free

Getting the keys to your new BTO flat can be immensely exciting, but when you’re standing in a bare, unfurnished home, the amount of renovation work before you can seem quite daunting. Renovating your entire home is not just a massive undertaking, but an expensive one as well.

Here are some important things every new homeowner needs to know to keep the process as painless as possible.


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.


Check for Defects.

Before even entering your new home, start keeping an eye out for any cracks, scratches, stains and dents on your front door and the surrounding area. Then, go through your home and look over (and under) every surface as meticulously as possible. Test the doors and windows, check for leaks and make sure to report any major defects as soon as possible, to reduce your waiting time.


Mind the Three-Year Restriction Period on Removal Of Bathroom Wall And Floor Finishes.

Fancy a designer bathroom complete with double sinks, marble finishes, and a rain shower 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 you 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.


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.


Choose Approved Windows and Grilles.

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.


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.


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 renovation starts, it is important to remember that demolition works can only be carried out from 9am to 5pm 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. You’re one huge step closer to moving into your dream home!


How Much Should You Budget For Home Renovation

The most expensive thing you can buy in Singapore is probably your home. Given that kind of investment, we see why you’d want to make your home as good looking as possible. To help you see how much you need to spend, where all the money goes, and how you can keep the budget low, here’s our guide to renovating costs in Singapore.

How much does a home renovation cost?


The ultimate cost of renovation depends on the type of home, its age, its condition, the company you choose to do the renovations, how much work you want done, the type of materials you pick.

The type of housing often determines how much work needs to be done. Private condominiums and executive condominiums often come with some interior fittings e.g. kitchen cabinets and flooring already done. It takes a lot less work to do up a brand new BTO as compared to a resale flat.

To give you a rough idea, we’ll give you the range for renovation costs for a 4-room HDB flat, probably the most common public housing type/size.

Packages go for as low as $4,888. But renovation costs have been known to go up to $110,000.

According to Qanvast, a web portal and app for homeowners to find interior designers and furnishings, the average HDB renovation cost is $53,000.


Renovation options – contractor, ID, or design & build?

As we’ve said, the range of costs is wide. To know where your budget sits within the spectrum, you need to know what you want. The first decision you have to make is: do you want a contractor, an interior designer or a design-and-build company?


Contractors handle the heavy lifting when it comes to home renovations, but you will need to do the designing, conceptualising and project management.

They do all the construction work, like putting up and breaking down walls, doing up false ceilings, installing flooring, electrical wiring, piping, bathroom fittings and carpentry.

Since the contractor needs to be managed and given specific instructions, this option is suitable for people who know exactly what they want design-wise, including the more technical specifications. It’s also good for simple and straightforward renovation work.

Many people who go with contractors are seasoned homeowners who have done renovations before and know how to manage the project on their own. If you’re not experienced, this can be harder than you think.

It’s also a time-consuming project and you will have to take time off from work to be around to manage things.

But if you have time and are confident about being in charge, going contractor-only is a good way to manage your budget. Typically, they charge based on the cost of construction materials.

Interior designer

The interior designer is a person or firm you hire on top of the contractor to help conceptualise, design, source furniture and manage the entire project. For the absolutely clueless, hiring an ID is a good idea, especially if you value design but would rather leave it to actual experts.

You can rock up to an ID firm with just a faint idea of what you want. Their job is to help you create the look of your home, advise on style and provide 3D designs that you approve. They also do the legwork when it comes to sourcing for furniture, furnishings and fittings to complete the look.

Hiring an ID is also good for those who don’t want to manage the renovation and all the practicalities that go with it. The ID will coordinate with your contractor and manage the renovation project. Of course, the drawback is that you’ll have to pay slightly more. IDs typically charge consultancy fees and fees on top of the materials.

Design and build

Somewhere in between the two options above is the design-and-build option. This is sort of a level up from the contractor where they’ll do the construction work expected of a contractor, but include the design and project management as part of the package.

For practical homeowners who are managing their budget and not willing to splurge on the level of service and design provided by an ID firm, this is a viable option. It’s good for those who know what they want, but don’t have the time to actively manage the renovation project. Similar to contractors, you’ll pay a rate that’s based on the cost of the materials. No need to pay consultancy fees as the design is thrown in for free.

Precautions to Take Before Renovating

Renovating your new house can be really exciting. However, before you start your renovation process, here are some precautions that you should take.

When your contractor starts the home renovation work, it is important to supervise the progress on a regular basis. The contractor could say that it is sufficient for you to visit on a weekly basis, but it is advisable to monitor the work daily. Seeing the progress that has taken place every day for yourself has several advantages. If the contractor has misunderstood your instructions, it is critical to spot the mistake as early as possible. Quick rectification will be easier and reduce potential costs significantly.

For instance, the Consumer Association of Singapore receives a number of complaints against contractors every year. According to the data on the association’s website, 11% of the complaints received in 2016 pertained to contractors.

YearNumber of complaints filed against contractors

The best precaution that you can take to prevent becoming one of these people filings complaints is to make a daily visit to your home to verify that work is progressing according to schedule. Not only that, your payments should be linked to the amount of work that has been completed. Don’t make the mistake of paying 100% of the agreed amount in advance.

Do you need permission to make alterations in your house?

In Singapore, it is the home owner’s responsibility to obtain permission from the Urban Redevelopment Authority for certain types of renovation. As a general rule, you will need permission for:

  • Changes that affect the external facade of the building.
  • Alterations that result in an increase of the floor area.


For HDB flats, The Housing & Development Board has another specific set of rules for renovations. For instance, you can only use an HDB registered renovation contractor and you are required to receive prior permissions from HDB for various types of work.

Plan your renovation carefully

It is advisable to carry out extensive research before starting on your renovation exercise. Spend time on finalising what you want your house to look like when the refurbishment is over. This will help you guide the work of the interior designer and the contractor.

Also, you should always keep in mind that, while your budget is important, it is not the only factor that you should consider. The efficiency and skill of the contractor that you engage will play a large role in the project’s success. Be prepared for delays and your initial budget estimate being exceeded.

If done correctly, renovating your home is one of the most fulfilling and worthwhile projects you could spend your money on. Not only will you get a new home that is a pleasure to live in and which looks exactly like you had imagined, it could sometimes even help raise the value of your property in case you decide to sell or sent it out.


Things to Consider Before Renovating Your Home

If you are buying a new flat, it is essential to set aside an additional S$50,000 to S$80,000 to renovate it according to your tastes. Those who have lived in the same house for a period of 10 years or more would need to spend a substantial sum to refurbish their homes.

But, wow will you pay for this expense? If you have recently bought a home, you would have probably taken on a large home loan, and it could be a meaningful burden to incur further debt for your renovation. Therefore, people who are remodelling an existing home should also try and avoid taking a loan for this purpose. Instead, they should plan ahead and set aside money on a regular basis. However, at times, the only way to arrange the required funds is through a renovation loan. Several banks offer this product specifically for people who need help funding their home renovations, and often even give you a discount if you already have a home loan from them.

Here are some other points to keep in mind so that you can be sure to get a great renovation without stretching your finances too much.

Decide on your budget

How much are you going to spend on your renovation project? You may have a figure, say S$60,000, in mind. But when you add up the expenditure on the various items, it is likely that your total will exceed this figure. In fact, if you have a budget of S$60,000, the total of the individual expenses should be in the range of S$45,000 to S$50,000.

Why should you keep such a large buffer? As the renovation progresses, you will probably think of additional improvements. Not only that, home renovations almost always encounter complications and delays that prolong the construction and increase the overall cost of the project. Unless you keep a cushion in your initial estimate, you can go hopelessly over-budget.

How will you find the right interior designer and contractor?

There are differing opinions on whether you should engage an interior designer at all. Most homeowners have a very clear idea about what they require, and there is a wealth of information available in magazines and on the internet on various designs and themes. You can clip out photographs of room layouts and designs that appeal to you and simply ask your contractor to replicate what is in the photograph or the image that you have downloaded.

But, there also are strong arguments in favour of hiring the services of an interior designer. When you are spending such a large amount on your renovation, it may be worth incurring an additional expense of S$3,000 to S$5,000 for professional advice so that you don’t end up with a home that isn’t all that great. In fact, an interior designer may be able to make suggestions and offer guidance that could save you thousands of dollars.

The best way to find an interior designer with good technical knowledge with materials. You should try and identify someone who has got renovation work done previously, and avoid referrals where the person giving the recommendation does not have any direct knowledge about the quality of the work of the contractor.

Come up with your own ideas

If you do decide to use the services of an interior designer, you should not delegate the entire responsibility for your home to this person. You are the one who is going to live there and are in the best position to decide what your house should look like.

Of course, this does not mean that you shut your mind to the ideas that the interior designer or even the contractor provide. These individuals are professionals who would have worked on dozens of similar projects in the past. Their expertise can be crucial to a successful home renovation project.

A good practice to adopt is to make a list of your ideas and queries and then discuss them in detail with your designer or contractor. Listen carefully to what they say and be prepared to change your views if their proposals seem superior to yours. After all, they are specialists in this field and you are paying for their know-how.


Guide to Home Renovation

Getting your house keys soon, but not sure where to even start? Here’s a basic guide to the renovation process and important things you should look out for. Now that you’ve got your Pinterest boards ready, how much should you budget for your dream home?


It really depends on the size of your house and how much work it needs, but renovation charges usually range from $50,000 to $80,000 for Resale flats, and between $30,000 to $50,000 for BTO flats.

Interior design fees are usually included in the budget, but some interior designers charge a design fee of about $3000 to $5000 (depending on the size of the house).


You’ve saved up enough money, but where do you start?


  1. Remember those Pinterest boards? Go back to them and decide on a design theme for your home. Need some inspiration? It’s also a good idea to save photos of specific concepts you like (i.e. a white brick wall in the kitchen), so you can show your interior designer the exact look you’re going for.
  2. Once you’re pretty much settled on a design theme, it’s time to look for interior designers. When looking for designers, do pay attention to the company’s resources that they are able to allocate to you. If you are meeting designers with no proper set-ups or he/she is providing unclear details when you question about the Company, then this person is a no-go.
  3. Finalise a list of at least 3 interior designer options at most, then meet with all of them to see which one will best suit your design theme and work style. Don’t forget to bring your floor plan along for the meeting. Budgets are for designers to work with, but of course if certain ideas require a higher cost, then it’s up to you to decide if you’re willing to increase your budget for this.
  4. Once you’ve settled on an interior design company, it’s time to get started on the renovation process. Always insist on documenting your design requirements in black and white, in case there are any misunderstandings along the way. Also, you might want to get the specific measurements for areas allocated to major furniture or appliances (i.e. fridge), so that you’ll have a better idea when shopping for your new home.
  5. Lastly, don’t forget to check the renovation site regularly so you can request for any issues to be rectified prior to handing over.