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Types of 3-Room BTO Flat Layouts: Which Ones Are Unique?

Some of these layout differences are minor, but you'll want to take note of them.

HDB’s Built-to-Order (BTO) scheme was first launched in 2001, and nearly two decades later, the layouts of its flats have remained (mostly) unchanged. However, that isn’t to say there aren’t any exceptions to the rule.

3-room BTO flat layout unique
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Here, we take a closer look at various 3-room BTO flat floor plans from the past, present, and even the future(!) that break away from the mould, as well as how their unique layouts could end up influencing your renovation plans.

But first, what does a ‘regular’ 3-room BTO flat layout look like?

To explain what’s considered to be a ‘unique’ 3-room BTO flat layout, we first need to compare it to a ‘regular’ one, which looks something like this:

3-room BTO flat layout unique
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Floor plan of a 3-room flat at MacPherson Spring.

The typical layout for 3-room BTO flat comprises of two bedrooms – both of which are clustered on one end of the unit – along with a household shelter that’s located right beside the main entrance.

While this layout is often deemed as cookie-cutter, it offers flexibility in kitchen design as homeowners are able to a) install an island, b) build a breakfast counter or c) connect their kitchen and living area with an open-concept layout.

Canberra Street by Ascend Design
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3-room BTO flat layout with walkway household shelter

3-room BTO flat layout unique
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Floor plan of a 3-room flat at MacPherson Spring.

Yet another 3-room BTO flat layout that's commonly found in modern-day HDB development is this one, which features a household shelter located along an internal walkway, rather than beside the main entrance.

While this layout gives homeowners a (noticeably) longer living space, which can be further expanded by merging it with an adjoining bedroom, the trade-off is a narrower kitchen entrance that’s unable to accommodate an island or an open-concept layout.

Sims Place by Eames & Scales
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Sims Place by Eames & Scales
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Consider maximising the exterior of your flat’s household shelter by turning it into a projector wall.

3-room BTO flat layout without service yard

3-room BTO flat layout unique
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Floor plan of a 3-room flat at Woodleigh Glen.

Considering that service yards are a staple feature of contemporary BTO flats, it’s rare (and surprising) to see these spaces missing on an official floor plan, but the fact of the matter is that there are indeed 3-room HDB units that lack a separate/partitioned service yard altogether.

Thankfully, these types of 3-room flats come with plumbing inlets/outlets in the kitchen (just like 2-room Flexi flats) for washing machines as well as a clothing rack outside so you aren’t forced to do your laundry in the bathrooms.

Bukit Batok West Avenue 9 by Yang's Inspiration Design
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3-room BTO flat layout with bathrooms that aren’t side-by-side

3-room BTO flat layout unique
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Floor plan of a 3-room flat at Plantation Acres.

Most BTO flats have their common and en suite bathrooms located side-by-side each other, but that’s not the case for 3-room units in (at least) two HDB developments, namely Plantation Acres and Skyline I & II.

Instead, what these units possess is a detached bathroom in their master bedrooms – and while this doesn’t impact functionality, it could be troubling for homeowners who value privacy as there’s a direct line of sight from the living area/bedroom doorway into the en suite.

Bedok Reservoir Road by Insight.Out Studio
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One viable solution is to install long curtains or noren (Japanese fabric dividers) near the bedroom entrance as they provide a workaround to this layout quirk without taking up as much walkway space as a privacy screen/wall.

3-room BTO flat layout with balcony

3-room BTO flat layout unique
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Floor plan of a 3-room flat (w/o balcony) at Grove Spring @ Yishun.

Balconies used to be a frequent sight in HDB flats, but these days, they have become somewhat of a special feature, and only units in select developments/blocks come with these platforms.

Take for instance, the 3-room BTO flats at Grove Spring @ Yishun, which have two variants: one with a balcony, and one without. Grove Spring units with a balcony are naturally larger (but not by much), having 3 sqm more space than their counterparts.

3-room BTO flat layout unique
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Floor plan of a 3-room flat (w/ balcony) at Grove Spring @ Yishun.

Tampines Central 8 by ChengYi Interior Design
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While there are various ways to maximise an HDB flat’s balcony, the easiest (read: fuss-free) one would be to turn it into an alfresco dining area where you can enjoy the breeze and your meals at the same time!

3-room BTO flat layout with bedrooms on both sides

3-room BTO flat layout unique
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Floor plan of a 3-room flat at Alkaff CourtView and LakeView.

BTO flats with bedrooms on both sides are referred to as ‘dumbbell’ units due to their shape, and they’re relatively new (and rare) compared to ‘regular’ BTO homes that have side-by-side bedrooms.

3-room BTO flat layout unique
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Floor plan of a 3-room flat at Northshore Residences I & II.

Additionally, there doesn’t appear to be a standardised layout for ‘dumbbell’ units as their floor plans vary from development to development. For example, while 3-room ‘dumbbell’ units at Alkaff CourtView have a bathroom on each end of the flat, those at Northshore Residence I & II instead have their bathrooms located in close proximity to each other.

Alkaff Crescent by De Exclusive Design Group
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Alkaff Crescent by De Exclusive Design Group
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View this project by De Exclusive Design Group

Regardless, such 3-room units are highly efficient as there’s no wasted space (no long bedroom corridors = larger bedrooms) and are suitable for families who wish to stay together without compromising on personal privacy

3-room BTO flat layout with flexi space beside window

3-room BTO flat layout unique
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Floor plan of a 3-room flat at Parc Clover @ Tengah.

With an estimated completion year of 2024, it’s going to be sometime before the 3-room flats at Parc Clover @ Tengah will be completed, but they’re worth highlighting because of a unique feature that even recently-launched flats/developments lack.

3-room BTO flat layout unique
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Image source: HDB

While Parc Clover 3-room BTO flats have a ‘regular’ layout, each of their bedrooms comes with an additional flexi space beside their windows, which can be utilised as a wardrobe, home office, vanity or reading nook depending on your preference.

If you ask us, this is a handy feature that we’d definitely like to see in future BTO flats (of all sizes), not just those at Parc Clover @ Tengah!

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