As we all know, HDB has a lot of rules and regulations for public housing. Here are some rules to bear in mind when you plan your renovation.
1. Submit all plans to HDB for approval before hacking: Some walls, columns, beams and slabs are load-bearing and cannot be removed, moved or altered. (On your floor plan, these are usually shaded in solid black or grey.)
Other walls, though not load-bearing, hide important wiring and piping and cannot be tampered with.
To play it safe, make sure to submit all plans to HDB for approval before any hacking begins.
2. Pre-packed cement screed: HDB now makes it compulsory to use pre-packed cement screed on dry areas (i.e. walls and floors of bedrooms and living room).
That’s because they are coated with a waterproof membrane to prevent water from seeping to the unit below.
If you choose to disregard the restriction and there’s seepage, you have to bear the cost of fixing the damage to your neighbour’s home.
(You can, however, tile over the existing flooring or lay a slip-resistant laminate.)
3. Exposed pipes cannot be permanently concealed: You feel the urge to cover up the exposed pipes in your bathroom or kitchen. As much of an eyesore as they are, pipes cannot be permanently concealed. In case of clogs, HDB must be able to access the pipes to investigate.
4. Restrictions on bomb shelter: They aren’t the prettiest and you’ll be tempted to do something about them. But here’s what you CANNOT do to the shelter:
- Cover or remove the notice pasted on the door
- Modify or remove the door
- Lay tiles, spray wall finishing such as cement sand finishing or put wall plaster on the interior walls
- Lay tiles or skirting over its existing floor tiles
- Hack on the external walls of the shelter to mount panels or lay tiles
- Install anything that requires power tools on the interior walls
Front door needs to be fire-rated: If you want to replace your front door, you can, but just make sure the new door is fire-rated.
Most HDB front doors are designed to contain smoke and fire within the unit so they don’t spread to staircases or life lobbies.
5. Restrictions on changing the windows & grilles: You absolutely cannot remove or tamper with the safety railings or grilles installed by HDB.
You can replace the windows… but full height, ¾ height and bay windows are all not allowed. For windows facing the common corridor, you cannot install windows that open outwards.
And for balconies with a sliding door, the door is there because windows are not allowed, so don’t even think about touching it.
6. Renovation timings: Oh, and finally… HDB has something to say about the timing of your renovation, too. No matter how quiet, you cannot do renovation work:
- Before 9am and after 6pm on weekdays and Saturdays
- On Sundays and public holidays
- For more than three months from date of the HDB permit
For noisy renovation work, you can only do it when your neighbours are at work – from 9am to 5pm on weekdays only (except the eve of major public holidays).