If it was your first time to come across literature regarding HDB flats in Singapore, you may have the wrong notion of them being plain and simply boring.
For a highly industrialized country like Singapore, owning an HDB is one thing. Having to renovate it is a totally different thing. As they say, the latter is a rite of passage for the Singaporean citizen. As they don’t have that many options to build their own homes, they really make it big when they make that decision to renovate.
Originally built to house the growing number of informal settlers in post-war Singapore, HDB flats have evolved though time. HDB stands for Housing Development Board (the government arm which takes care of providing government housing to the less fortunate people of Singapore), thus, the term, HDB flats.
About 80% of the country’s population live in HDBs, 95% of which are owned by the dwellers themselves. The remaining 5% are rented out to those who really cannot afford to get their own flat.
If in the previous years the HDB was considered to be better alternatives than the shanties that were previously occupied by the informal settlers, the growing, and still rapidly increasing number of HDB settlers has spawned the birth of the construction business, mostly in the area of renovation. With Singapore garnering the highest GDP (final value of goods and services made available to the market) per capita in the world, buying patterns has moved such that the big number of the population has shifted a sizeable amount of their earnings to paying for HDB renovations.
The HDB Interior
An HDB flat may have 2 to 5 rooms, but even with the bigger HDBs, space planning has always been a concern. An HDB interior may have as much as 3 rooms, but in order to project space, most flats have incorporated the living room, dining and kitchen into one big open space. If at all, partitions are made using glass panels, again to project bigger spaces.
Because of the great demand for renovations, prices have soared, contractors and architects have been fighting toe to toe to get a bigger share of the growing market, even going to the extent of incorporating the sale of matching furniture for the renovation.
If before renovations made would be major because of the extent of work that needs to be conducted(sometimes a total make-over of the flat is required), now, an owner just needs to look for contractors, get quotes from them and just have portions of his house renovated. This makes HDB interior renovation more competitive in the interior design industry today.
How does One Go About “Shopping” for the “Right Contractor”?
A few years back, it would have been a tedious and challenging task to find the contractor can provide your needs and will fit the budget you have. Now with just a click on your phone, you can upload to an app and you will be directed to sites that will show you a variety of designs that will surely fit your taste and budget. The pictures will give you pretty much an idea of how the contractor will go through with the renovation as against him showing you plans with just lines, and vague descriptions.
You can ask quotes, request a re-quote using materials of your choice and ask the pros and cons of using one material over the other. You can do all these without you spending a single cent on all of these queries. Best of all, with the competing contractors for the job, quotes are lowered and you have an assurance that you will get your money’s worth.
Choose between the use of wood for that comfortable lived-in feeling and the basic lines of black and white paneling for that sleek, classy look. Leave it to the experts. They can even tell you the downsides, if there are, of the choices you are suggesting. After all, they are there not just for the one time deal, but for subsequent renovation requests as well.
If in most countries investment is made heavily on the construction of the house, in Singapore, it is the HDB interior renovation, which eats up a sizeable chunk of the homeowner’s money. As most of the citizens live in HDBs (mainly due to the growing population and very limited land space), they make a sizeable amount of investment in their homes via renovation for after all, the government has clearly laid out flat retention policies that practically give preference to the original owners or their qualified dependents. That makes the investment in the HBD interior worthwhile.
The good thing about HDB interior is that you can practically turn your flat into something, which defines you. The open spaces enable one to do his own make-over, putting color, good lighting, and maybe even changing the flooring to provide a more fluid look. You can mix and match the unit with modern furniture that can accentuate the otherwise plain flat or accessories with quaint items for that rustic look.
HDB interior decorators work like magic into your own unit. Their work is to make your flat as comfortable as possible based on your expectations, thus, if you look closely, some flats may not look like conventional houses after all. There was this one unit where a couple had wanted the ambiance of a Korean coffee shop.
At times, emphasis is placed in those parts of the house where the owners are most comfortable with, e.g. that corner turned into a music area or that corner with a favorite chair where one can curl up and spend hour’s reading his favorite book.
You don’t necessarily have to have the parts of a conventional house incorporated into your own unit even if you purchased one of the older HDBs. You can still work wonders on it and still turn your unit into one paradise you would want to go home to at the end of the day. All it takes is to hire the best HDB interior decorator who perfectly understands your requirements.