The renovation guidelines and dos and don’ts listed below will provide you with all necessary information about the nature and extent of HDB redevelopment work that residents are allowed to conduct on their flats. We have divided this guide into parts consisting of general advice, best practices as well as dos and don’ts homeowners must follow when altering/redeveloping their homes to meet their changing needs. We have assumed that you have already set up a SP services account to activate water and electricity for your flat. Do note that most new BTO flats come with 3-year waterproofing warranty on bathroom tiles. The HDB approves tiling over these existing tiles using adhesives, but, in case you plan on ripping everything apart for the purpose of retiling, you must ensure that you are not voiding this 3-year warranty.

Stage 1: Preparation and General Advice

What should you do when you first think about redeveloping or making alterations to your HDB flat? Start by contacting an expert renovation contractor as engaging a qualified person is the first step to get the necessary advice and acquire permits from the URA planning authority. Your contractor can also establish if you are required to submit a redevelopment/alteration plan to the BCA.

Next, you must inform all your neighbours about these plans and, more importantly, about the duration of construction. You must determine if your neighbours have any concerns and seek resolution agreeable to both parties. Do address their concerns and incorporate their suggestions into your plans and schedules. Do seek written consent from all neighbours whose property you would need to access during the construction. Remember: you must contact all neighbours including ones staying next to, in front of, behind or above your HDB flat. Do seek advice from your renovation contractor on adopting appropriate construction methods and materials to minimize potential negative impact on other homes.

Stage 2: Starting the actual HDB redevelopment work

There are many factors to consider when actually beginning the redevelopment work.

  • Do ensure that your contractor takes all safety precautions to prevent construction debris from falling into the neighbour’s property. If there are common HDB walls that require hacking, ensure providing robust hoarding or netting along the common perimeter.
  • Do talk to your contractor whether asbestos is a risk you and your neighbours must know about. Asbestos is a building material which has long since been discontinued but it is still present in traces in water tanks, roofs, pipes and wall partitions etc.
  • Do remind your contractor to check for asbestos and if present, submit a notification of Asbestos removal to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). A licensed asbestos waste removal contractor must also be enlisted to safely remove this waste.
  • Do inform neighbours about this and advise them to stay away while the work is in progress.

Stage 3: Handling damage to neighbouring properties

Often, hacking common HDB walls creates unwarranted situations, including damage to neighbouring properties. In event this occurs; do note that the BCA could revoke the permit for your construction.  Do get your architect or renovation contractor to assess the damage and consider other systems that will minimize further damage and also rectify the reported ones.

  • Do note that hacking common walls needs exclusive permission from the BCA. Hacking is especially prohibited when you want to create a recess or embed new columns or beams (unless you have been given specific permission by the BCA).
  • Do consult your neighbours if you require plastering and/or painting the extended walls. Get your contractor to treat damaged surfaces and exposed beams or roofs promptly. Ask him to provide temporary or permanent flashings/sheeting to prevent rainwater from seeping in the exposed property.

Once the HDB redevelopment work is in progress, do ensure that your contractor displays all permits outside the flat until the work is completed. The demolition and hacking work should only be carried in between 9am-5pm on weekdays-so do make sure this timing is adhered to. Any hacking project should take no more than 3 days, so make sure you supervise your contractor and keep an eye on the calendar.