Is Your Contractor HDB-licensed and Does It Matter?

  • Mar 25, 2015

You've been thinking about renovating your house for some time now, and after shopping around and meeting a few shortlisted contractors, you're ready to give your chosen one the go-ahead. But before you sign the papers, there is one very important thing you need to know: If yours is a HDB flat, do hire a contractor who is HDB-licensed. Making-Good-Renovation-Decisions  

What does that mean, and why is that important?

A contractor who's HDB-licensed would have gone through proper training by HDB so that he or she knows how to carry out renovation works in HDB flats. It isn't a matter of quality, where unlicensed equals to lousy contractors. Rather, being licensed means they know how to renovate your HDB flat without causing any damage to the building structure and affecting other units. Ryan from interior design company Urban Habitat agrees, "If there's one advice I can give to homeowners, it's to always engage a HDB/BCA registered renovation company so that no unwanted damage is caused." To have regulation in this area, HDB's Registered Renovation Contractors' Scheme (RRCS) ensures that the contractors who work on your homes have the necessary know-how. You can read more about it here. Not only is there a stringent screening process, contractors can have their HDB license suspended if they accumulate a certain number of demerit points from infringing HDB rules. Get an idea of the contractor you're hiring by taking a look at what it takes to be HDB-licensed:
  • the contractor needs to successfully complete HDB's training course
  • the contractor must have at least three years of experience and be actively involved in the renovation trade
  • the company needs to be ACRA-registered for a minimum of one year
  • the contractor needs to have ownership of the company for at least a year
  • the company should have unblemished records
Because it's not easy to apply for a HDB license, unlicensed contractors may sometimes try to coax you into engaging them. They'll propose ways to work around the system, such as by ‘borrowing' the license of a partner company. Don't be swayed! Engaging a non-HDB-licensed contractor to carry out renovation works for your HDB flat is illegal and will cost you a fine of up to $5000, amongst other penalties. It's just not worth the risk, don't you agree?  

How to find a HDB-licensed contractor

We're guessing that by now, you want a quick way to check if your contractor is registered with HDB. You can do so by sending an SMS to 90112222, just follow the steps outlined here. Alternatively, HDB also provides a full listing of registered renovation contractors on their website   So, it's pretty straightforward - if you're renovating your HDB apartment, choose a HDB-licensed contractor. If yours is private housing, then it wouldn't matter. And above all, put your home in the hands of a trustworthy contractor!
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