Renovation cost: budget setting for HDB flats

There are many readers who email us everyday. Questions related budget and renovation cost are frequently asked. In this post, we are going to guide you further about renovation cost and setting of a more realistic budget for your renovation. This is an addition to my previous post: Renovation Cost: How much are you expected to pay?

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Why do different interior designers or interior design companies charge differently?

  • Service: Good service comes with a price. Its similar to comparing budget airline with a full fledge airline. Good services include perspectives, detailed drawings and carefully thought designs, solutions or suggestions. A contractor usually charge lower price because they do not provide any services but just carried out whatever they were told to do. If something goes wrong, the contractor will just push the blame to the homeowners and additional charges will be incurred for any changes.
  • Finishing: There is no cheap and good in renovation. Some Interior Designers or Interior Design companies do pay premium price to their sub contractor to ensure good finishing and quality. These higher cost will be charged to the homeowner.
  • Materials: There are some Interior Designers or companies who only use premium quality products. For example only granite kitchen top instead solid surface, electrical switches with glowing dark indicators instead of simple “designer” switches or marble flooring instead of homogeneous tiles.

What is the realistic budget for your HDB flat?

Suggested budget (to the IDs only excluding accessories) for resale HDB with full renovation (hacking, flooring, false ceiling, carpentry, doors, windows and grilles)
3 room HDB: $30,000 and up
4 room HDB: $40,000 and up
5 room HDB: $50,000 and up
EA: $55,000 and up
EM: $70,000 and up

Suggested budget (to the IDs only excluding accessories) for standard BTO HDB with full renovation (flooring, carpentry, false ceiling, doors and window grilles)
3 room HDB: $22,000 and up
4 room HDB: $30,000 and up
5 room HDB: $35,000 and up

Suggested budget (to the IDs only excluding accessories) for premium BTO HDB with full renovation (carpentry, false ceiling, and window grilles)
3 room HDB: $18,000 and up
4 room HDB: $22,000 and up
5 room HDB :$27,000 and up

What we have mentioned are just rough estimated figures. Actual cost can vary up to 30% or 40% depending on the material used, amount of carpentry, size of the unit, the design of the house and the ID’s charges. About 50% to 60% of the homeowners do spend about that amount with a 10% variation. In another words, if you wanted a full renovation for a 4 room resale HDB flat, you can expect yourself to spend at least $40,000 just on ID without accessories. Of course if you cut a lot of carpentry works or choose to reuse the flooring or windows, you need not spend that amount (which we deem as partial renovation).

If your HDB flat is not under any of the classification above, you will need to see the ID to get a quotation.

Why do you need to understand or know about having a realistic budget?

  • To prepare the money for renovation: renovation is not cheap and can be one of the most expensive investment you ever make. Having the money prepared will ensure that the renovation will go smoothly. Not only do you need to prepare the money for the ID but for purchasing of accessories as well.
  • To prevent yourself from being cheated: for example when you are offered by a contractor to do a full renovation of your 4 room resale HDB at on $15,000 (which is half of our suggested budget), please beware. It is impossible even if the contractor uses the cheapest materials. We have heard of quite a few of such cheating cases where the homeowner thought they have the “best deal” in town.
  • Giving the IDs something to work with: for example you gave your ID a budget of $15,000 and expect him to do a “miracle” full renovation for your 4 room resale HDB flat. He will most likely reject your project without even trying because he know its totally impossible.

Blog about Interior Design, renovation and home improvement.


28 Responses to “Renovation cost: budget setting for HDB flats”

  1. Skyy J Cyrus

    Jan 19. 2014

    Im staying in a 3room hdb, I want can I renovate just my bedroom, if possible how much will it roughly be? Thank you

    Reply to this comment
    • Vincent

      Jan 19. 2014

      Hi Skyy J Cyrus, it really depends on the materials used and what you want. Your requirement must be really specific before I can answer your question. For example, if you want to build a bedhead plus bed frame with 2 side table and a wardrobe, it will cost you more than 5K to do that depending on material used and design.

      Reply to this comment
  2. amanda

    Jan 20. 2014

    hi there. we are thinking of just renovating the flooring of the house. because HDB is doing a upgrade for our toilets. so my parents are thinking about renovating the kitchen flooring and walls. and the flooring for the entire hse. any idea whats the duration and the costs if the flooring for the main rooms are broken marble

    Reply to this comment
    • Vincent

      Jan 22. 2014

      Hi Amanda,

      There are too many factors that determine price like, size, materials used for the new flooring, etc. However, the estimate for tiles can range from $7K to $13K. Time frame will range from 4 to 6 weeks.

      Reply to this comment
  3. Amanda

    Jul 22. 2014

    Is it possible to do up a house without an ID?

    Reply to this comment
    • Vincent

      Jul 22. 2014

      Hi Amanda, In Singapore, it is very difficult. There are a lot of restrictions and permit needed. For example hacking of walls or tiles. You will need HDB licence (especially for HDB flat renovation) and PE certification. Coordination is also an issue. Unless you know how renovation works, it is almost impossible to do it by yourself.

      Reply to this comment
    • Derrick

      Jun 18. 2015

      Yup , it’s possible . but you really need to put in time and effort for that . but you need to plan ahead and confirm everything before starting the renovation . I did my house myself too , but ofcos with the help of friendly contractors who gave me suggestion and helps

      Reply to this comment
  4. Candy

    Aug 31. 2014

    Why is the estimated renovation cost for premium bto lower than standard bto? I always thought it is otherwise.

    Reply to this comment
    • Vincent

      Oct 13. 2014

      Premium comes with floor tiles and doors. You have already paid HDB for those items.

      Reply to this comment
      • Mag

        Jun 26. 2015

        Hi Vincent,

        I m getting a 4 rm BTO and has paid HDB for the tiles, doors and sanitary fittings. Is 20k enough for the renovation excluding furnitures and home appliances?

        And good ID to recommend?


        Reply to this comment
        • Vincent

          Jul 08. 2015

          Hi Mag,

          20K should be enough to do the basic plus a little more. Usually 25K is a more comfortable figure. You can contact the PLUS Interior Design for your renovation needs. Just email

          Reply to this comment
  5. Doris

    Oct 24. 2014

    I just did my hdb 3 room flat by a very responsible and responsive ID. He doesn’t have a showroom, and I think that’s the reason he can offer me very good deal. Good finishing, attractive prices, handover on time.

    Reply to this comment
  6. vincent

    Feb 12. 2015

    Hi Doris , can you share your ID contact to me . I like to do a three room HDB too.

    Reply to this comment
    • Ace

      Jun 25. 2015

      Hi Doris, can I have ur ID contact too. Mine is a 3rm resales HDB flat.

      Reply to this comment
  7. RAIN

    Aug 15. 2015

    Hi vincent, I am planning to renovate the kitchen of my mother’s 3-room flat in clementi. Nothing fancy… just a simple, clean n elderly-friendly design for old mom’s sake. Problem is… I do not know how or what to start with. My budget is safely to say in $6000 range since I am still paying my own flat loan. Any tips or suggestions by readers n yourself… for my kind of budget to work with… is greatly appreciated?

    Reply to this comment
    • Vincent

      Oct 29. 2015

      6K is a good budget without hacking. If hacking and tiling are involved, depending on size of your kitchen, you might need 10K.

      Reply to this comment
  8. Siti

    Sep 26. 2015

    Hi Vincent, i am staying in 3A room flat in the east. I would like to reno my kitchen floor, tile up wall, cabinet and build in wardrobe for my 2 bedroom. How much it may cost?

    Reply to this comment
    • Vincent

      Oct 28. 2015

      You really need to discuss this further with a ID or contractor because there are just too many factors that will affect cost. With hacking involved, I estimate it to be between 12K to 15K.

      Reply to this comment
  9. Malik

    Nov 22. 2015

    Hi Vincent,

    Do you know the cost of doing dining seatee and kitchen with semi wall partition for bto flat?

    Reply to this comment
    • Vincent

      Dec 07. 2015

      Hi Malik,

      Seriously I do not know. Depending on size and materials used, dining table with 4 seats can cost about $2000-$4000 and short wall partition can cost around $500.

      Reply to this comment
  10. niA

    Dec 07. 2015


    Mine is a premium bto but i opt out for the standard tiling etc thats provided. $30K sufficient including tiling etc?

    Reply to this comment
  11. Boy-boy

    Jan 14. 2016

    Hi Vincent,
    1. Estimate renovate for BTO 4 room standard?
    2. The price given, is it complete with build up wardrobe in the bedroom,
    kitchen cabinet and both toilets?

    Just curious…how much we have to spend on that.

    Thank you.

    Reply to this comment
  12. Kat

    May 25. 2016

    I am doing partial renovation including changing out all the light fixtures. The quote I get break up the cost into (1) labour to dismantle light (2) labour to relocate lighting point and (3) labour and material to install lights. Is this a common practice? I feel as if I have been charged 3 times.

    Reply to this comment

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