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4 Things To Know Before Renovating your Brand-New BTO Flat

The day has arrived: You finally receive the long awaited announcement that your new BTO flat is ready. Once the initial wave of excitement of collecting the keys subsides, the next immediate thought is how, and when, to begin the renovation process.

Furnishing a new home is a massive project to undertake, not to mention a costly one as well. In order to have peace of mind and avoid spending more than what you’ve budgeted for, here are some handy tips every new BTO flat owner must take note of before commencing renovation proper:

Design by Inspire ID Group


Enlist assistance only from HDB-approved contractors or Interior designers

If there is one piece of advice you should take away from this article, it is that you should always check whether the contractor or interior designer you engage is registered to carry out HDB renovation works.

The reason for this is simple – any work done must comply with guidelines stipulated by HDB. Otherwise, HDB will consider them to be unauthorized and demand the BTO flat be reinstated to its original condition with immediate effect.

Aside from being able to advise you on the best course of action to take based on the configuration of your BTO unit, a HDB approved contractor or interior designer can pinpoint what you can and cannot do, with respect to HDB’s rules and regulations.

Do note that before you can start renovating, you’ll need to authorize him/her to submit an electronic renovation application on your behalf. He/she is then required to attach a copy of the signed acknowledgement form and submit it for HDB’s approval before the renovation works can begin.

Design by Willis Design


Take note of the 3-year restriction period for bathroom floor and walls

New BTO homeowners may have lofty aspirations for transforming their bathrooms into urban sanctuaries, but before you proceed with happily instructing your contractor to start hacking away, do take note of the 3 year restriction period on renovation works you can do to the floors and walls.

Bathrooms in new BTO flats come with wall and floor finishing coated with a waterproof membrane, a measure that prevents water from seeping through the flooring onto the ceiling of the flat below. In the event you decide to disregard the 3-year duration and replace the tiles, you’ll be effectively voiding the warranty altogether.

So unless you plan to bear the risk and cost of moisture-related damage to the interior of your bathroom, as well as that of your irate neighbours living on the floor beneath you, it is advisable to leave the tiling as it is for the first three years.

However, this setback does not mean you cannot fully realise your dream of having a luxe spa-inspired bathroom. In accordance to HDB’s rules, you can request your contractor to tile over HDB’s existing ones with those you have selected. If not, you can also opt for a more affordable alternative in the form of a slip-resistant laminate to achieve the look you desire.


The type of flooring you pick matters

We do not wish to be a wet blanket, but have to highlight that with new BTO flats, homeowners must be aware of HDBs guidelines on flooring matters. With the wide variety of flooring choices available in the market, it is tempting for homeowners to settle on a few choices that best suit their personalities. Regardless of the preference, there is one important rule to follow: it is compulsory, as of June 2015, to use pre-packed cement screed on dry areas in the BTO unit – namely for the floors and walls of bedrooms and living rooms.

While using pre-packed screed, according to HDB, provides a higher quality finish, its drawback lies in price. Budget-wise, this measure will mean homeowners must be prepared to fork out about $2 to $3 more per square foot for flooring, amounting to an average estimated cost of as much as $3,000 in addition to the final bill.

Design by Absolook Interior Design


Demolishing of walls is not as simple as it seems

One of the most common requests contractors get from new BTO homeowners concerns the demolition of connecting walls. While it is understandable couples may wish to maximize their home space, there needs to be prior approval from HDB before any work can be done to hack or remove the wall in its entirety.

In fact, this ruling applies for resale flats as well – the reason being HDB needs to ascertain whether any modifications will weaken the structural integrity of the entire building. In order to confirm if the proposed wall can be removed, homeowners must get their contractors to submit all proposed plans to HDB for clearance. This encompasses the whole gamut of work that can possibly be done to walls – inclusive of building arches between two walls, construction of an opening through it (eg. doorway or passage) and moving it forward/backward from its current position.


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