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5 Rare HDB Types That Are Basically Private Houses

June 6, 2017
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Urban lofts or SOHOs, tropical bungalows or ritzy penthouses? If an expensive condo or private property comes to mind - we’re here to turn those thoughts on their heads and towards the humble HDB.

More than just a developer of cookie cutter BTOs, HDB has also been responsible for some of the most unique housing spaces in Singapore over the years. And you’d be surprised; from hipster cool to the extremely spacious, these rare HDB flats below can easily pass off as fancy condo/landed developments - without the hefty price tag and with CPF subsidies. Yay!


1. HDB Terrace Houses

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Double storeys, front porches, and a sloped roof; all features of a typical terrace home, except that these actually have HDB block numbers on them! Developed by SIT (Singapore Improvement Trust, a predecessor of HDB), these landed-looking spaces were constructed around the Queenstown, Whampoa and Jalan Bahagia areas in the 1960s.

Perhaps realising that it wouldn’t be feasible with Singapore’s land constraints, HDB hasn’t been building any more of these since. So, snagging one is pretty much hitting the jackpot - besides a limited supply, a HDB terrace is significantly cheaper than similar landed properties for the same size. Think anywhere from $600,000 to slightly less than a million.

A Peek Into An HDB Terrace Home

Imagine by SK66 - Stirling Road

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Kick back and relax in this Pinterest-worthy tropical bungalow fit for the girl-about-town! Complete with sequinned cushions, rattan furniture and glamorous decor (fashion illustrations and even a tiara!) this white-washed space looks cosy yet resort-ready.

5 Rare HDB Types That Are Basically Private Houses
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5 Rare HDB Types That Are Basically Private Houses
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The stylish outdoor porch in monochromes evoke a colonial flair, making it hard to believe that this actually is an HDB.

5 Rare HDB Types That Are Basically Private Houses
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5 Rare HDB Types That Are Basically Private Houses
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2. HDB Loft Units

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For all that private developers have been harking on about SOHOs and lofts, HDB has jumped in on the bandwagon offering their own, more affordable version of loft housing. Seen in recent developments such as SkyTerrace@Dawson and Treelodge@Punggol, these HDB loft units sometimes double as multi-generation houses, depending on its size.

Along with the main residence, some flats come attached with a studio apartment, on the second level, which could be used as a space for the parents/in-laws. That’s what we call getting the loft and townhouse treatment - without getting a fancy condo. Nevertheless, HDB loft units do come at a premium - starting from $600,000 for resales.

A Peek Into HDB Loft Units

Dyel Design - Skyterrace@Dawson

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5 Rare HDB Types That Are Basically Private Houses
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Looking like a penthouse more than an HDB flat, lofty full length windows and ceiling heights add instant luxury to this neat space. Its open-plan living and kitchen areas help to maximise the home’s smaller square footage.

5 Rare HDB Types That Are Basically Private Houses
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5 Rare HDB Types That Are Basically Private Houses
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Meanwhile, the rest of the rooms are equally space-saving and functional; playing on the flat’s Scandinavian theme, concealed doorways and hidden cubbyhole shelving bring a hint of mystery (and practicality).

IdeasXchange - Skyterrace@Dawson

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5 Rare HDB Types That Are Basically Private Houses
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It’s hard to believe this impressive, towering space, complete with huge windows and an extensive built-in loft space is all part of an HDB flat! Fun times abound, as the apartment unfolds itself in different styles in different areas.

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5 Rare HDB Types That Are Basically Private Houses
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5 Rare HDB Types That Are Basically Private Houses
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The striking glass staircase is decidedly futuristic, the master bedroom classy with a hint of victorian; the study/gaming space stays laid-back with cosy bean bags and unfussy furnishings.


3. Jumbo HDB Flats

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Call it a happy accident or beautiful disaster; when many 3/ 4 room flats went unsold in Woodlands and Yishun in the 1990s, HDB decided to combine unoccupied, adjacent units to form jumbo flats!

With some as big as 192 sqm, who needs an expensive terrace/bungalow when you can get all that square footage for $600,000 - $800,000? Of course, HDB has stopped implementing Jumbos since then - and only 485 units exist in Singapore.

A Peek Into Jumbo HDB Flats

Co. Prozfile Design - Woodlands Block 820

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5 Rare HDB Types That Are Basically Private Houses
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5 Rare HDB Types That Are Basically Private Houses
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The best part about having a spacious jumbo flat? Having enough room to do whatever you want.

5 Rare HDB Types That Are Basically Private Houses
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5 Rare HDB Types That Are Basically Private Houses
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5 Rare HDB Types That Are Basically Private Houses
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Blending multiple styles (industrial, futuristic, traditional and Scandinavian), this eclectic HDB in Woodlands brings the best in one conjoined space. While each room seems like a disparate style from the other - that’s exactly what makes it so charming.

The Roomaker - Marsiling Block 133

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5 Rare HDB Types That Are Basically Private Houses
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This jumbo flat is the perfect interpretation of the urban jungle aesthetic. Lush greenery play a highlight, from the vertical garden greeting guests by the living area, to the bits and bobs of indoor plants dotted around the expansive, Muji-esque space.

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5 Rare HDB Types That Are Basically Private Houses
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Minimal, uncluttered furniture with a ton of smart storage shelving and features further enhance this home’s clean, relaxing rep.


4. HDB Penthouse Maisonettes

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We’ve all heard of maisonettes, but guess what? Forget expensive condominium penthouses - you can live the literal ‘high life’ with HDB’s very own ‘penthouse’ maisonettes!

Developed in the 1990s, these top-level humongous apartments commonly found in Bishan, Pasir Ris or Hougang can go up to 215 sqm, and come with a sky garden/balcony that provides an unprecedented view of the city. Unfortunately, while more affordable than condo penthouses, they still don’t come cheap - prices can start from $800,000.

A Peek Into A (Similar) Penthouse-Style Maisonette

Make Room - Pasir Panjang

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Here's one dreamy way of styling up a penthouse maisonette; Just take the lead from this similar apartment in Pasir Panjang! Light pours into this bright, cheery space, which makes the best of this home's sliding glass doors and windows.

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5 Rare HDB Types That Are Basically Private Houses
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5 Rare HDB Types That Are Basically Private Houses
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Keeping to a scheme of pale neutrals with striking pops of blue and yellow, the compact, loose furniture used throughout add space to some of the more cramped up areas, like the dining and foyer.

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Outdoors, the sky balcony is a green patch of heaven with plants and faux grass - perfect for gazing away.


5. Post-War SIT Flats

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Besides being located in Singapore’s ultimate hipster enclave, the unique, Bauhaus style of these old-school HDBs in Tiong Bahru exude a vintage charm that’s unlike any typical flat/condo. Built by the SIT in 1948 - 1951, only a few select blocks (specifically Blk 17 to Blk 50 in the estate) are under the public housing scheme. The rest, which consist of 1930s pre-war flats are privatised. Good luck snagging one - despite their 99-year lease closing in, there’s still strong interest and flats usually range around $600,000 - $700,000.

A Peek Into Post-War SIT Flats

Free Space Intent - Tiong Bahru

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Look past its retro door grilles and this post-war HDB in Tiong Bahru is an ultra-edgy industrial space. Raw cement screed sets the background, and is peppered with all sorts of accents old and new.

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5 Rare HDB Types That Are Basically Private Houses
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Take the clean-cut Eames chair in the living room, which pairs magnificently with the white latticed partitions, bringing a cool, eclectic touch.

Metamorph Design - Kim Cheng Street

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5 Rare HDB Types That Are Basically Private Houses
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Taking full advantage of its larger windows and longer run, this mature flat is turned into a sleek contemporary pad with the use of glass partitions.

5 Rare HDB Types That Are Basically Private Houses
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5 Rare HDB Types That Are Basically Private Houses
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The clear, see-through surfaces help to demarcate the various rooms, whilst retaining a bright, open-plan feel.

Explore: Check out this beautiful Tiong Bahru post-war flat!


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