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How Much is a 3, 4, and 5-Room HDB Flat Renovation in 2023?

January 31, 2023

Spoiler: at least things are getting better on the timeline front.

If you’ve been keeping up with the renovation industry and eyeing renovation costs, you’ll know that material and labour shortages drove up prices and project timelines in the past few years.

Add the projected core inflation rate of between 3.5% to 4.5% in 2023 to that, along with the evolving economic situation, and you’ll probably find yourself wrangling with your initial renovation budget.

hdb renovation costs 2023
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View these projects by SG Interior KJ (left) and Insight.Out Studio (right)

To help you plan and prepare better, we crunched the 2022 data as a starting point, and spoke to two professional interior designers to find how much you can expect the average renovation cost and duration for your BTO/resale flat to change (or remain the same) in 2023.

Expected renovation costs for 3, 4, and 5-room HDB flats in 2023

BTO renovation costs

BTO renovation cost 2023
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Flat typeMedian renovation cost in 2022Expected renovation cost in 2023*
3-room$41,600 to $48,400$45,800 to $55,700
4-room$45,000 to $54,600$49,500 to $62,800
5-room$50,000 to $60,000$55,000 to $69,000

*Based on a projected increase of 10-15%
We took a look at the data from projects completed in 2022 to first find out the median renovation costs for 3-, 4- and 5-room flats: overall, costs across all room types saw an increase.

Lengkong Tiga by Insight.Out Studio
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Max Lee, co-founder of SG Interior KJ, attributes this partly to a rise of about 5-10% in material costs across the industry, from building materials to tabletop finishes and tiles. Roy Zhuang, interior designer at Insight.Out Studio, sets a higher estimate of about 10-20%.

The second factor Max underscores is the increase in labour costs: “We saw an increase in renovation demand for BTOs in 2022, which subsequently created demand for workers. The cost to meet this demand – which is by retaining skilled workers like tilers and painters – therefore rose as well.”

Rivervale Walk by SG Interior KJ
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Will this trend continue in 2023?

According to Max, the cost of renovating an HDB flat could increase by about 10-15% in 2023 across all room types, given the increase in material and labour costs. With more estates collecting keys in 2023, renovation demand is also steady. Overall, he doesn’t expect prices to rise year-on-year more than they did in 2022.

Additionally, you might be wondering about the impact of the GST increase, but both Max and Roy lay out that they don’t expect a significant increase in the renovation cost because firms have been covering for it; at most, you will only see a 1% hike in the total renovation bill.

Resale HDB flat renovation costs

resale hdb renovation cost 2023
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Flat typeMedian renovation cost in 2022Expected renovation cost in 2023*
3-room$57,000 to $62,400$62,700 to $71,800
4-room$55,200 to $63,000$60,720 to $72,500
5-room$70,500 to $85,000$77,600 to $97,800

*Based on a projected increase of 10-15%
Resale flat renovation costs also rose in 2022, with 3-room resale flats seeing a big jump.

Max shares that the significant increase for 3-room renovation costs could be because owners “got more adventurous in terms of different features and styles, partly because of the smaller floor area”.

Elaborating, he says: “We saw (and are still seeing) a fair number of three-room flat owners hacking down walls and reconfiguring their entire home to accommodate their lifestyle needs, particularly for resale flats. I see much less of that for four- and five-room flats.

The materials and finishes they use also tend to be more premium: for example, microcement, sintered stone tabletops like Gardenia Slabs, rather than tiles or vinyl.”

Tampines Avenue 8 by SG Interior KJ
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Besides what Max shared about the market conditions for BTO flat renovations, Roy pinpointed manpower shortage as an issue in 2022.

“Our materials mainly come from Malaysia and overseas – with factory shutdowns, there was a lack of manpower to produce materials, and also logistics delays/difficulties to transport goods into Singapore, so both labour and material costs increased.”

Canberra Crescent by Insight.Out Studio
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As for 2023: given the already significant increases in prices over the past few years, Roy believes that renovation costs will remain about the same as last year.

Per Max’s previous estimates, however, costs could go up by about 10-15% for 2023 for each flat type.

Expected renovation duration for 3, 4, and 5-room HDB flats in 2023

Renovation duration for BTO flats

how long does a BTO renovation take 2023
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Flat typeMedian renovation duration in 2022Expected renovation duration in 2023
3-room8 to 11 weeks8 to 11 weeks
4-room8 to 10 weeks8 to 10 weeks
5-room8 to 10 weeks8 to 10 weeks

Renovation timelines paint a much more reassuring picture for BTO flats.

“Since everyone is already comfortable with the new norm, and I don’t foresee any further issues with manpower or material shortages, I believe the duration in 2023 will stay the same as the past year,” says Roy.

Upper Serangoon View by Insight.Out Studio
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Still, he explains that changes to work permit requirements did impact renovation timelines in 2022, given that the majority of workers are from Malaysia.

“Before, Malaysian Work Pass Holders could drive their Malaysian-registered vehicles into Singapore and park them perpetually while staying in an apartment here. However, the rules changed from July 2020 and they have to ensure their vehicles are kept/used outside Singapore for six hours or more daily.”

His experience is that affected workers started work later depending on when they reached the site, and had to leave earlier as well to head to Malaysian customs, which contributed to a longer duration than pre-pandemic times.

Renovation duration for resale HDB flats

how long does a resale hdb renovation take 2023
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Flat typeMedian renovation duration in 2022Expected renovation duration in 2023
3-room10 to 12 weeks10 to 12 weeks
4-room10 to 12 weeks10 to 12 weeks
5-room10 to 12 weeks10 to 12 weeks

Resale renovations saw delays in 2022, but of course this varied depending on the interior firm and specific works required.

“On our company’s side, while the timelines are longer than pre-pandemic times, we didn’t see much of a big increase last year. This is partly because we space out our work with buffers now so that we don’t compromise the quality of the workmanship,” shares Max.

“We did encounter some logistics problems, though, like issues with hardware and shipments that caused delays in getting the necessary materials.”

Anchorvale Link by Brick & Decor
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Max believes that homeowners being more well-read about interior design now is also a factor: “Being more informed about different design choices, some clients requested more complex works. Some of these involved coordinating multiple contractors and required more time to source the materials [homeowners] wanted.”

Roy’s firm observed a surge in demand for resale home renovations in 2022, mainly because of delays in BTO projects and homeowners opting to purchase a resale home instead of waiting. The greater complexity of works needed for renovating a resale flat could also have contributed to longer wait times.

Ang Mo Kio Street 44 by Starry Homestead
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On how things are looking for 2023, Max says that he doesn’t think timelines will increase further, “unless homeowners opt for some design choices that would take longer to get the work done, like microcement finishes.”

It’s safe to say that you can expect resale renovations to take as long as they did in 2022 without increasing further, since the industry isn’t facing any more acute issues with manpower and material shortages like last year.

What can homeowners do to handle higher renovation costs and buffer for timeline hiccups?

1. Prioritise your needs vs your wants

Bidadari Park Drive by Insight.Out Studio
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You might have to make changes to your renovation plans to deal with the increased costs; that means considering your needs versus your wants and deciding what you can do without.

“I would say standard carpentry like your kitchen cabinets and your wardrobes are necessities, while setting up a smart home is a want. Of course, it ultimately depends on the homeowner – so it could be helpful to think about investing more in the spaces in your home that you spend more time in,” says Max.

Roy also recommends opting for quality loose furniture over (non-essential) built-in carpentry if you have plans to upgrade your home in the future, since you can bring them with you.

2. Start looking for interior designers early

Jurong West Street 65 by SG Interior KJ
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Both Max and Roy emphasised meeting interior designers early to find the one that’s right for you – and to ensure you have enough buffer time to settle administrative matters and deal with unexpected circumstances, like discovering a pest infestation or water leakage.

“The HDB renovation permits take about a month to process for the approval of hacking works. Then, there’s choosing tiling and materials. We also need to be on site to talk about the electrical works,” shares Roy.

As for exactly how early you should start looking for an interior designer: 6 months before your key collection.

Looking for an interior designer?

Margaret Drive by HOFT
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We got you – just let us know your budget and design requirements to get free personalised quotes from five local interior design firms. You will also be eligible for the Qanvast Trust Programme, which includes the Qanvast Guarantee that safeguards your deposits!

All prices are accurate as at the time of publishing on 31 January 2023.

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