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Why It Is Important to Care for Your HDB Home’s Windows

We’ll be getting transparent about the renovation regulations and the window types.

Let’s get this clear, while they are necessary, windows often take a backseat when you think about renovating your space. They tend to pale in comparison because there are more exciting features in the home to fixate on.

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But, it’s still important to take care of them. If they fall, you could face a penalty of up to $10,000 and/or a jail term of up to a year. That said, unlike the interiors of your home, you can’t decide to give them an update on the fly because there are strict guidelines in place. That’s why we compiled this guide – it covers everything you need to know, from cleaning and maintenance to retrofitting/replacing them!

1. When to check your windows

Subject to constant rain and wind exposure, windows need to be maintained regularly or they will deteriorate through wear and tear.

As advised by HDB, you should be checking the condition of your windows at least once every 6 months.

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2. How to check and maintain your windows

Before you start examining them, you will first need to identify the type of windows you have in your home.

There are three main types of windows in HDB flats, and each has different components you should keep an eye on:

Casement windows

These windows open on hinges, pivots, or friction stays. They are usually found in living areas, bedrooms, and, in some cases, bathrooms.

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Look out for:
- Broken, loose and/or corroded rivets and screws
- Bent or loose friction stays
- Cracked glass panes
- Loose rubber gaskets

Cleaning and care recommendations:
- Remove dirt and debris, paying attention to the hinge, friction stay and tracks
- Lubricate the moving parts every 6 months
- Replace cracked glass panes, damaged friction stays and missing/corroded screws/rivets with the help of a BCA-approved window contractor

Sliding windows

Like their namesake, these windows slide horizontally along the bottom member of a frame. They are typically located in the living rooms, bedrooms and yards of older HDB units.

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Look out for:
- Damaged safety stoppers/angle strip(s)
- Obstructions on the track

Cleaning and care recommendations:
- Use a small brush/soft cloth to clear away dirt and debris
- Tighten loose track screws with a screwdriver
- Replace brittle/broken gaskets and cracked glass panes with the help of a BCA-approved window contractor

Louvered windows

It’s really easy to recognise louvered windows. Mainly found in bathrooms and kitchens/yards, they have parallel glass panels that can be angled to allow air to pass through freely.

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Look out for:
- Damaged lever locks
- Loose clips/clamps that hold the glass panes secure

Cleaning and care recommendations:
- Apply lubricating oil to keep pivots moving smoothly if they are stiff
- Do not hang heavy objects on lever lock
- Replace cracked glass panes with the help of a BCA-approved window contractor

3. What to do if your windows need replacing

While the replacement of full height windows is strictly not allowed, you can get them replaced if the frame gets damaged. Even so, it’s going to be a tedious process because you’ll need both HDB’s and BCA’s permission to carry out the structural works.

First, you will need to engage a Professional Engineer (PE) to design and submit the drawings to BCA for approval. Once they’ve given the green light, only then can you submit the permit from BCA, alongside the approved drawings, to HDB.

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The replacement will also have to comply with HDB’s original windows in terms of colour scheme, dimension and window type.

After the works are completed, you will then need to submit another report (Form D) to the BCA.

4. How to tell if your windows need retrofitting

Okay, but what if your windows aren’t damaged? Does that mean that they are completely safe and secure?

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Not really. Depending on how old your apartment and windows are, they might require some repair/retrofitting work. Here’s how to go about checking them:

Casement windows

Friction stay
  • Non-stainless steel
  • Sagged/bent
Use stainless grade 304 with 4 rivets on each side of the friction stay
Connection of friction stay to window frame
  • Aluminium rivets used
  • Poor material choice for the connection
Replace existing connection with rivets made of stainless steel grade 304 with 4 rivets on each side of friction stay
Corner brackets
  • Deterioration of plastic
Replace with zinc-casted corner brackets
Glass panel
  • Cracked or loose
Replace glass panel and rubber gasket

Sliding windows

Safety features
  • Damaged/not provided
Replace or add stoppers and aluminium angle strips to prevent sliding panel from jumping track
  • Jammed
Replace rollers
Glass panel
  • Cracked or loose
Replace glass panel and rubber gasket

Louvre windows

Glass panel
  • Cracked or loose
Replace glass panels
Adjustable lever
  • Jammed
Replace lever mechanism

After retrofitting your windows, your appointed AWC will provide you with a retrofitting report, signed by the installer. This report (Form B1) has to be submitted to the HDB via hardcopy or digitally.

If your rivets aren’t secure, contact your contractor immediately for rectification.

5. On installing/replacing grilles in your service yard/balcony

Like the above, all grille designs must be HDB-approved, and must follow the appointed designs for your flat. All of this information can be found on the renovation factsheet provided when collecting your keys.

Done with maintenance? Dress your windows up!

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Your windows can do so much more for your home as well. In fact, once you get them sorted out, we recommend looking into window treatments. These add-ons not only provide additional shade, but can also reinforce safety; great for those looking to build a kid-friendly space.

Remember, your windows are a part of your home. Therefore, it must be well taken care of too!

*Disclaimer: Information provided is accurate at the time of writing. Check back on HDB’s site for the latest updates.

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