Are you familiar with HDB’s guidelines for building works? Before you start talking to your interior designer about your BTO renovation, spend a few minutes to read this. Because what you intend to do may, in fact, be flouting HDB rules!
Why are these pesky rules in place, you may wonder? That is because unauthorised extensions may place additional load on the structure, and compromise the structural integrity of the building.
Unauthorised installations in your Housing Board flat could incur a fine of up to S$5,000. Here is a guide on the dos and don’ts when renovating your HDB flat!
1. Hacking or Erecting Walls
Any demolition or alteration of non-load bearing reinforced concrete (RC) elements, such as partition walls, party walls, stiffeners, lintels or hangers, in flats can be carried out only after the HDB’s approval.
Existing reinforced concrete structures should not be tampered with during BTO renovation works.
A professional engineer (PE) is required to supervise the BTO renovation to ensure proper repair of the affected RC structural elements due to the demolition works. A copy of the approved plan and the conditions of approval are to be given to the engaged PE for the supervision of demolition works.
When erecting walls, adequate natural lighting and ventilation should be provided if the room will be used for habitation.
There should also be a direct fire escape route.
2. False Ceilings
While no permit is required to install false ceilings, you still need to ensure that there is a minimum clearance height of 2.4m between the false ceiling and the finished floor level. In kitchens, they should not cover the gas pipes. False ceilings are not allowed in bathrooms.
Only non-combustible materials and power-driven nails of 6mm diameter (and not exceeding 40mm in penetration depth length) should be used.
3. Household Shelters (HS)
Household shelters (HS), more commonly known as bomb shelters, are fitted with steel doors and reinforced floors, walls and ceilings to protect the home in the event of an emergency.
They are considered a structural component of the flat and its main features – walls, floor slab, ceiling and steel door – should not be tampered with during BTO renovation. Hacking is not allowed. The following types of work are not permitted to be done to the HS:
- Laying of wall tiles or spray of rock stone finish, cement sand finish and gypsum plastering on the internal faces of HS walls
- Laying of floor tiles/ finishes using adhesive materials
- Laying of 2nd layer of tiles on the floor or skirting tiles
- Installation of cornices within the HS
- Installation works with fixings using power-driven nails into the internal HS walls
- Tampering with, removing or covering up of the HS door notice. The HS door notice provides important information to the occupants on the use of the HS
- Indiscriminate hacking and drilling of the HS walls, floor slabs and ceiling slabs other than drilling under permitted works
- Hacking to both internal and external face of the household shelter walls to form key for tiling
- Hacking on the external face of the HS wall for mounting of feature wall panels or wall tiles installation
- Modifying, changing, removing or tampering of the HS door
- Modifying, altering or tampering with any part of the ventilation openings, plates and the mounting devices such as bolts and nuts
- Painting to the interior face of the 6mm fragmentation stainless steel plate of the ventilation sleeves, the ventilation sleeves, “O” ring rubber gaskets and the four(4) or eight(8) numbers of stainless steel bolts which hold the steel plate to the sleeves
Additionally, the HDB allows up to 75% of the ventilation opening to be covered by a removable fixture.
Lastly, remember, the HS should never be seen solely as a storeroom. Fixtures that cannot be removed easily in an emergency should not be placed or installed in the HS as these may hamper your efforts in preparing your HS for occupation in the event of a wartime emergency.
4. Bathroom Renovations
If you are thinking of expanding your toilet, hold your horses!
There is a three-year restriction period in place that prevents you from knocking down walls in the bathrooms. This is because these features have a waterproof membrane in them to ensure that water does not leak to the neighbouring units.
Should you wish to expand your toilet three years later, a permit is required and the extended area must not be more than 600mm in width and exceed 0.6m2. However, the extended area can only be used as a dry area, such as for washbasin or shelves.
The HDB does not allow the replacement of full-height windows, ¾ height windows and bay windows. However, permission may be granted if a complete replacement is required.
If granted, the replacement will still have to comply with HDB’s original windows in terms of colour scheme, dimension and window type (i.e. casement to casement, sliding to sliding).
A renovation permit from HDB is required for all windows replacement work. A Window Contractor (AWC) approved by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) needs to apply for a renovation permit from HDB before carrying out the window replacement works.
You will need to comply with the following:
- A Professional Engineer (PE) should submit structural calculations and drawings to the BCA for approval;
- Upon approval, you, the PE, and the Licensed Builder (LB) must jointly apply for a permit before structural works can begin;
- Finally, before the commencement of the replacement works, your appointed AWC has to apply for a renovation permit and submit the approved drawings to HDB.
Besides the aforementioned, additional renovations restrictions may apply when it comes to other building works. It is important to check these restrictions online before starting your BTO renovation!
*Article repurposed from Home renovations: Know the dos and don’ts when renovating your HDB flat by Ng Huiwen, The Straits Times.*
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