Photo: Home & Decor/Sense Space

For instance, did you know that you can only engage a HDB Registered Renovation Contractor (RRC) to carry out the works? Failure to do so could cost you up to a $5,000 fine and other penalties. Here, other dos and don’ts to take note of.


#1 Overload the structure
No loads greater than 150 kilograms per metre square of floor area is allowed, to ensure that structural integrity isn’t compromised. So you may want to check how much that freestanding bathtub, for example, weighs.

#2 Alter the structure
This may be obvious, but you can’t hack or remove structural entities like columns, beams, reinforced concrete walls (the load bearing walls), as well as floor slabs and staircases in a maisonette. It’s best to differentiate which is which and determine what you can’t touch first.

#3 Extend into void areas
Void areas, such as the double-volume staircase area within maisonettes, have to remain as they are — no absorbing them as part of your floor area to get a bigger space.

#4 Raise the floor level too high
The maximum you are allowed to raise your floor level using concrete is 5 centimetres. This includes the thickness of the finishing (e.g tiles) as well. If you want to have platforms, make sure the frame is constructed using other materials like timber joists.

#5 Affect the facade of the building
This includes applying paint to anywhere outside your flat, like the window ledges, common corridor walls and ceilings. Take note as well that you’re not supposed to install external grilles on the air-con ledge or use the space as something else.  


#1 Get a permit
Some renovation works require a permit. Such works include hacking and demolition of internal non-structural walls, enlargement of bathrooms, replacement of floor and wall finishes, changing of floor level, repositioning of internal door entrances, and installation of water feature or pond. Verify with the HDB if you need one, otherwise you may be required to reinstate the changes.

#2 Get it done in time
When you get the permit, the approved work has to be finished within three months for new blocks, and one month for existing blocks.

#3 Observe the 3-year waiting period
For new flats, you cannot immediately hack away the floor or wall finishes provided by the HDB in your bathroom. You can only do it three years after the completion date of the block to ensure that the waterproofing membrane laid on the cement screed prevents water leakage. Nevertheless, you can lay new finishes over using adhesives — consider the new slim tiles available in the market for this.

#4 The water test
When renovating your bathroom, prepacked waterproofing screed and waterproofing membrane has to be applied before laying new floor finishes. After which, conduct a water test with your contractor, as the HDB places heavy emphasis on waterproofing.

#5 Check, double check and triple check!
Even though you engage a HDB-registered contractor, as the homeowner, you are responsible for your own renovation and anything that goes wrong. HDB expects you to ensure that the work carried out is according to the requirements, so never fail to check with your contractor.

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See also: things to know before moving in with your husband, 3 things to note about your renovation, how to avoid renovation nightmares for your new homeadvice on whether you should buy or rent your first home, and the things to know before buying your first home.