Remember Cinderella? Well, think of your HDB flat as Cinderella, while the Home Improvement Programme is the Fairy Godmother giving your apartment a complete makeover. There’s just one significant difference:

Your beautiful home won’t turn back into a ragged apartment at midnight.

The Home Improvement Programme usually lasts for 10 days.

Oh, and the renovations aren’t entirely free.

Still, the HDB Home Improvement Programme offers a significant help. Since it was first introduced in 2007, the scheme has benefited over 320,000 older flats in Singapore.

Now, it can benefit yours.

Do take note that your daily lifestyle will be affected due to the home improvement renovations. They will block out most of your rooms and your toilets will be inaccessible. For some families, they will need the help of their friends and family.

Get help with temporary housing here.

What Is the Home Improvement Programme (HIP)?

The HDB Home Improvement Programme is, just like its name suggests, a government scheme that solves maintenance problems in older apartments.

Think renovating old toilets or building enhancements for the elderly and handicapped.

But not everyone can get into the programme:

  • HDB selects the eligible apartments for maintenance and upgrades.
  • After selection, HDB conducts polls within households in that block. The renovations can take place only if over 75% of households vote in favour – and, unfortunately, only citizens have a say. Permanent resident families can’t vote.

If a block of apartments votes for the scheme, the Home Improvement Programme can start working its magic.

As a rule of thumb, all HDB apartments will undergo about two such HIP renovations:

  • One after 30 years of first being leased
  • The second after another 30-40 years

What Does HDB Home Improvement Programme Include?

Here’s what you can expect:

Essential Works

Nobody is spared of wrinkles and cracks after thirty – not even sturdy HDB apartments. Luckily, cracks in concrete, faulty pipes, and old discharge stacks can be repaired.

And HIP will do that for you.

Optional Works

Optional works include upgrading/ installing new:

  • Toilets and bathrooms
  • Decorative doors
  • Metal grille gates
  • Refuse chute hoppers
  • Building ramps for wheelchairs and other enhancements

Although these improvements aren’t considered essential, they sometimes are. Homeowners have the choice to which areas they want to renovate. The cost changes with that.

Home Improvement Programme Toilet Upgrades: Where Can You Go?

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If you choose to upgrade your toilet, you’ll have to face a significant problem: where to use the toilet and shower during renovations.

Warning: Unless you’ve expressly asked to remodel just one toilet, the HIP people will upgrade all bathrooms in your home simultaneously.

That means you’ll have no backup for the next week or so. Nope, they usually do both toilet renovations together and will complete them within 10 days or so.

HDB’s solutions aren’t very appealing either:

  • They will set up a portable toilet in your kitchen – if you have the space. The good news is there will be a heated shower head and tap in that improv bathroom. The bad news is the toilet doesn’t flush well.
  • They will set up a shared toilet in the void deck of your block for everyone to use.

So your best bet is to either move (which we’ll discuss below) or ask one of your neighbours to let you use their toilet.

What Is the EASE HDB Scheme?

The Home Improvement Programme has a particular scheme for elderly adults called EASE. The acronym stands for Enhancement for Active Seniors.

Here’s the unique selling point:

Elderly residents could get EASE HDB even if their apartments didn’t make it into the Home Improvement Programme. Therefore, they can get the following works:

  • Installing slip-resistant treatments for the floors in a maximum of two bathrooms
  • Installing 8-10 grab bars in the apartment and first toilet, and six such bars in the second bathroom
  • Installing a maximum of five ramps throughout the flat (if there are level differences between rooms) or at the main entrance

As you can see, these changes are essential for people with mobility issues. If you’re in that situation, you can apply here.

How Much Do I Need to Pay for HIP?

While HDB Home Improvement Programme is heavily subsidised, you may still have to foot the bill on some works. Here’s what to expect:

  • The essential works in the HIP are free.
  • The optional and EASE works require you to pay between 5% and 12.5% of their cost, depending on your apartment’s size:
    • Up to three rooms: 5%
    • Four rooms: 7.5%
    • Five rooms: 10%
    • Executive condo: 12.5%

These subsidies are only offered to Singaporean citizens. PR households will have to pay the entire price of all the essential, optional, and EASE works.

To avoid that, your PR household must become a citizen household within a year after receiving the bill.

To get the cash you need for your renovation works, click here.

How to Prepare Your HDB Apartment for the Home Improvement Programme?

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It is going to get very dusty and messy.

The HDB Home Improvement Programme isn’t as breezy as it sounds. Ok, maybe the bathroom part doesn’t sound breezy, but the rest of it anyway.

In reality, you’ll need to protect your valuables and prepare your home thoroughly because the renovation will cover your belongings in dust and debris.

So:

  • Store ornaments, furniture pieces, and other essential things in your bedrooms. Then, lock and seal your bedroom doors to prevent dust from getting inside.
  • Use the plastic covers from HIP wisely. Cover anything that you can’t stow away – yes, including the walls and floors. Just cover everything. It is going to be dusty and dirty.

Where to Stay during Home Improvement Programme

It’s not mandatory to stay anywhere else during the HDB Home Improvement Programme. But remember that your apartment will be noisy, dusty, and with no flushable toilet.

You may not even have access to water, electricity, or, even worse, internet service.

Unfortunately, one family member is obliged to stick around the apartment. The rest of the people can avoid this gruelling fate by:

How Long Does HIP Take? How Can Lending Bee Help?

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Luckily, the Home Improvement Programme doesn’t take too much. As a rule of thumb, prepare to face ten business days for the essential works, plus a few more depending on the optional works you’ve chosen. So, if you’re not counting Sundays and Public Holidays, your renovations could last 10-20 calendar days.

That means paying at least $200/night for a family of three, plus the 5-12.5% for optional and EASE works. If you’re a permanent resident, you’re facing a four-figure sum. Well, at least the HDB Home Improvement Programme does help make your home better!

Luckily, Lending Bee is here to help.

Our customised loans and affordable instalments fit anyone, regardless of citizenship and income. Besides, you can receive our financial help within 24 hours, plus ongoing support throughout your loan.

Get your quote here.

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