So you have gotten your keys and is getting ready to renovate your HDB flat? Congratulations! Not only is having a modern, well decorated home a wonderful luxury that you can enjoy every day, but when done right, it can even increase monetary value to your home when you decide to sell it in the future.

Naturally, like most things in life, there are two ways to go about doing this: a right way and a wrong one.  This means, simply, that there are good renovation contractors out there and there are rogue cowboys too. With cut-throat market competition and property cooling measures in the recent years, some unethical renovation contractors in Singapore are known to offer low prices while doing shoddy work in the process. In this guide, we will be highlighting some of the most important things every homeowner undergoing home renovation on his/her HDB flat should be aware of.

1. At the start of the project

Once you have received the keys to the HDB flat, survey it and start noting down improvements you’d like to see made. Research is the key to a successful home renovation. Good places to do so include: visiting neighbouring flats of similar type and size, or watching home renovation TV shows as well as browsing through online and offline publications for hundreds of ideas for the project.

The key is to organize this information properly so you can give all of it to your contractor and he can propose designs and work to best suits your needs. You should also take a look at your lifestyle in order to incorporate the changes you’d want to see in it: adding a larger tub to soak after a long day or a walk-in closet for extra storage etc.

2. Having the right licences and permits 

This is one important area that most home owners tend to miss out. In accordance to the law, any contractor carrying out renovation works in HDB flats must possess a valid HDB renovation contractor licence and this also encompass works that do not require a renovation permit.

Before any renovation work starts on your flat, you should authorise your contractor to apply required permits on your behalf by submitting the necessary online applications to the HDB web portal. Works involving windows, gas pipes, plumbing or sanitary would also require accredited and certified professionals by the HDB. Always talk to your contractor if you have doubts over certain guidelines.

3. Protecting the property

A major HDB flat renovation would mean demolition work, debris and dust all over the house. If you already have some electrical appliances or furnishing in the flat, make it a point to find out how your contractor plans to protect these. Ask them about the dust containment measures they plan on taking and how they will cordon off the areas when working on another. Also find out if you should remove books, drapes, delicate wall art and other ornamentation prior to the renovation.

4. Communication

Find out how your renovation contractor will communicate with you when the project is ongoing, particularly if you are not living onsite. These days, techno savvy contractors are known to use mobile devices, web apps, emails, text messaging tools and even cloud based storage systems to update important statuses about the renovation. Whatever mode of communication you select, ensure that you are comfortable using it. You can even decide on weekly meetings so that you can talk in person and get doubts and questions answered.

5. Products and materials

things to know before HBD renovation contractors start work on your home renovation

The next step to take is start researching various products and materials. There are many brands manufacturing several different styles and designs of tiles, wood materials, paints, faucets etc that you might be considering for your interior/exterior renovation. It is important that you at least know some basic information of these products to avoid being misled. Good contractors always allow customers to view samples of the materials and would answer questions professionally when asked.

Remember: once materials are installed, it can be difficult to reinstall or change them owing to time and cost factors.

6. Handling change orders

There are always bound to be scenarios that arise unexpectedly when undergoing HDB renovations. An experienced contractor will likely be aware about these and would initiate a dialogue about the numbers, in event they do arise. So, it is very important that homeowners talk about these issues with their contractors and factor in the budgetary and deadline changes to avoid nasty surprises down the line.

These six points can help you get the most out of your HDB renovation contractor. That being said; it is also very important to confirm the validity of the contractor you select to work with. A reliable contractor will be registered with the Housing And Development Board of Singapore and others also accredited with RADAC (Renovation And Decoration Advisory Centre).