From The Straits Times    |

Buying a HDB Built-To-Order (BTO) for the first time can be undeniably intimidating.

And we know how easily your mind can get boggled with tonnes of questions: which neighbourhood should your BTO be in, which grants and schemes are you eligible for, and what are the nitty gritty details that could culminate in you making a more informed decision about your BTO etc.

So, to get you start, these are the bare minimum you need to know before you even bother applying for a BTO flat:

Interior Designer: De Style



Probably one of the most important questions! What are the government priority schemes and grants you’re entitled to with your purchase of the BTO? You may be surprised – there is a substantial amount of governmental schemes that support and subsidise your purchase. Here are some of the more relevant ones:


The scheme helps the married couple and their parents stay closer together in a decreased proximity, whether in the same estate, neighbourhood, or flat. The flat allocation for first-timer and second-timer families are up to 30% and 15% of BTO units respectively. As an important note, your parents/married child and spouse must be staying in the same town or within 2 kilometers of the flat you are applying for, as the owner of a HDB flat there. Check out more info on this MCPS scheme here.


Similarly, this scheme helps married children and their parents get new flats in the same estate. You and your parents/children can make a combined application for 2 flats in a BTO project. After you make your ballot, both households will have the opportunity to choose your desired flats on the same floor or elsewhere in the BTO project from a pool of pre-identified flats. Check out more on MGPS here.


If you’re a first-timer, you may be eligible for the Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG) and Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG), depending on your average gross monthly household income: the lower your income, the larger your eligible grant amount would be. You can find out about your grant eligibility here.


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On top of the grants mentioned above, there are also HDB housing loans for your consideration to soften the blow of such a big ticket item purchase! Two of the basic requirements are that one of the buyers should be a Singapore citizen and you should not have previously taken 2 or more housing loans from HDB. Otherwise, you can also obtain a housing loan from a bank, provided of course that you meet the bank’s requirements.



Another import factor to consider is the BTO Optional Component Scheme (OCS), a scheme where HDB offers you the basic home design installations at an additional cost. This is for essential items like flooring, internal doors and sanitary fittings, and kitchen partition walls. OCS would be right for you if you would rather have HDB settle them for you, and pay via CPF, instead of trying to find your own renovator and financing yourself. For a more comprehensive guide on the pros and cons of BTO OCS, check this out!



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Now, here comes the fun (and also slightly stressful) part – deciding which unit to choose to suit your needs! HDB usually tells you critical information about the location/estate of the BTO, the number of units available for selection, and perhaps an entire plan of the project. But what’s really important is the actual unit you want to buy. Some of the things to consider are:

  • Direction your home faces (north-east / south-east facing ones are usually less hot)
  • Floor of your unit (the higher up the unit is, the better view it has and the costlier it gets)
  • Location of the flat within the estate (popular areas like Bidadari are usually oversubscribed and costlier)
  • Layout of the unit (avoid homes with potentially awkward corners!)

Check this out to find out more BTO unit selection tips!

Image credit: HDB




Other than thinking about the type of unit, you should also consider the type of flat you would want to stay in: e.g. 3-room or 4-room? Or an executive flat? Or perhaps, a multi-generation flat?

  • 3-room flats provide a compact living space that caters well to smaller families
  • The most common type is the 4-room flat that is ideal for young couples or young parents just starting out on their home building journey!
  • For larger households with 4-5 members, a 5 room flat works great since it’s roomy enough for extended families

Interior Designer: Free Space Intent



Interior Designer: DB Studio

And now on to the final point. We’re sure that many of you know that the Minimum Occupation Period, or MOP, of a BTO would be 5 years from the day you collect your keys from HDB. This means a few things: you would have to stay in your flat for 5-years minimum, and you cannot purchase any additional private properties both locally and overseas.

To put things into perspective, this is outside of the duration that you’ll have to wait for your BTO to be ready. On average, the BTO completion time is about 3-4 years, totalling about 8-9 years to wait and live in your BTO before you can do anything with it. If you’re a keen real estate investor who can’t bear to wait, do reconsider your options and perhaps choose an older resale apartment instead.

So, have you got it all figured and are you ready to take the leap? Happy house hunting!


This article was first published on Nestr and Ezbuy.

Nestr is the only interior design platform in Singapore that matches you with designers based entirely on how well their experiences match your renovation needs. Follow Nestr to receive the latest renovation tips & promotions.