How Should I Renovate My Home If I Plan To Move Out/Upgrade In Future?

If you’ve just bought a new HDB flat—congratulations! You’ve probably planned and budgeted for your dream home for years and now it is time to reap in the rewards…

…and renovate.

Many new homeowners certainly have their own ideas on how they want their living spaces to look. However, there has been an increasing trend of homeowners who are also planning their exit strategy during their purchase and are concerned with how their renovations will affect resale prices.

This is where our guide comes in: to provide tips on what to consider when personalizing your home while keeping in mind that exit plan.

Types of Renovation Work

Before you embark on any renovation work, you should understand what kind of work you’ll be paying for.

While items like plumbing, electrical wiring and painting are pretty self-explanatory, hacking, masonry and carpentry are the three main processes that will constitute the bulk of the work (and the cost).




The removal of any existing built-in furniture, flooring, wall finishes as well as actual walls or other structures

Anything involving cement (e.g. shower kerbs, cabinet bases and tiling floors/walls)

Anything involving wood (e.g. custom-built bookcases, TV consoles, bed platforms, wardrobes, kitchen cabinets, etc)

Things to consider before renovating

The Budget

Renovation costs can vary greatly depending on how much work you want done, the age and condition of the flat, the types of material that you choose and of course, the contractor or ID whom you engage. However, according to renovation portal Qanvast, there is an average figure that you can base your budget on:

Resale flats, on the other hand, often need a more extensive makeover, so expect costs between $45,000 to $52,000.

A breakdown of renovation costs according to renovation type:

Living & Dining Rooms




Additional costs

The Wait

The bigger the flat, the longer the wait. Renovations for flats typically don’t last longer than three months. However, due to the current restrictions this year (2021), delays are to be expected, reaching as long as an additional two months.

Outside of these delays, here are the average renovation period for HDB flats (Qanvast, 2020):


The Permits & Permissions

Unique to HDBs, renovations should only be carried out by contractors listed in the Directory of Renovation Contractors (DRC). This is to ensure that the procedures do not damage the building’s structure when renovating your flat. You can do a quick and easy check using HDB’s e-portal to verify your contractor or ID before engaging them.

Some types of renovation, such as building and sanitary work, require a permit from HDB. You should only commence your renovation after obtaining the permit for these works. If the renovations do not require a permit, you would still need to comply with the set guidelines for the work otherwise they will be considered as unauthorised work.

Here are some renovation rules to bear in mind:

  • Submit all plans to HDB for approval before hacking
  • Use only pre-packed cement screed on dry areas
  • BTO bathroom floor and walls cannot be changed for three years
  • Exposed pipes cannot be permanently concealed
  • Restrictions on household (bomb) 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
  • Restrictions on windows:
    • Grilles cannot be removed or tampered with
    • Full height, ¾ height or bay windows are not allowed
    • Windows facing the common corridor are not allowed to open outwards
    • No windows on balconies
  • Restrictions on renovation timings:
    • Before 9am and after 5pm on weekdays and Saturdays
    • On Sundays and public holidays
    • For more than 3 months from date of the HDB permit
    • Noisy renovation works, such as demolition and drilling, are restricted on weekends and public holidays

What do buyers look out for?

Whilst you are planning your renovations, it’s also important to factor in what a potential buyer would be looking out for. As a buyer yourself, you already have some experience with the process, however there are also some concerns that you should consider when reselling your home.

Hacked walls

You might be tempted to expand your master bedroom by hacking down a wall, however do consider carefully as buyers will be influenced if the number of rooms are or room sizes change.

According to resale statistics, hacking walls may affect an HDB’s market value by a margin of up to 5%. Buyers may also intend to reconstruct walls upon purchase, thereby having additional costs to consider. Of course, a tasteful remodelling may enhance the attraction of a unit as well, however the effect varies from buyer to buyer.

Fittings and furnishings

Having a fully furnished kitchen and master bedroom is a no-brainer for experienced buyers as they often account for the bulk of a property’s total renovation cost. Neutral-coloured built-in cabinets and wardrobes can easily enhance the attractiveness of a unit.

On top of the kitchen and master bedroom, the living room is also of equal importance! As the first room that buyers view when they step into any apartment, the living room sets the tone for the entire visit and needs to be invitingly bright, spacious or airy. Having a feature wall, TV console or downlights is also a plus!

Faded or peeling paint / wallpaper

After a few years of staying in your home, the walls or wallpaper may have started fading or peeling. A fresh coat of paint or new wallpaper can instantly enhance the attractiveness of your property, boosting your chances of a fast and good deal.

Walk-in wardrobe

In the current market, walk-in wardrobes are very popular amongst younger couples and are thus an asset to a seller—as long as there is sufficient walkable space within the bedroom itself. Other important factors include a tasteful wardrobe design and the effectiveness of it in organising and decluttering the room.


So, do home renovations affect the resale price of a property? Yes and no!

Since your home is meant to be lived in, you should certainly personalise it to your own taste. However, it is important to ensure a balance between your personal preferences and what appeals to a future buyer. 

Avoid drastic changes that may affect the original layout of the house. Neutral and minimalist renovations are the way to go to maximize the resalability of your home while still giving you that personal touch!

If you’re looking to sell your property at the best price, drop us a message and we’ll get right back to you!

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