If you have been looking to buy a resale flat or are living in an older HDB flat, you may be familiar with HDB’s Home Improvement Programme (HIP). With some of Singapore’s HDB flats passing the 50 year mark, it is inevitable that some refurbishment and maintenance is needed for these flats to remain in good living condition.
Announced in 1989, the Main Upgrading Programme was HDB’s first housing upgrading programme and covered improvements to the flats, blocks and precinct areas. This was then succeeded by the Home Improvement Programme (HIP) introduced in 2007 to focus on the common maintenance issues of HDB flats.
The Home Improvement Programme (HIP) is complemented by the Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP) which improves lift access and the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme (NRP) which focuses on revitalising the neighbourhood including shops, parks and accessibility. While these upgrading programmes tend to be carried out in tandem to minimize inconvenience to residents, they may be carried out separately as well.
What Flats Are Eligible For Home Improvement Programme (HIP)?
Currently, HDB flats that are built up to 1997 are eligible for Home Improvement Programme (HIP). As HIP is rolled out gradually, HDB would shortlist the eligible flat precincts for polling. To qualify for HIP, 75% of a block’s eligible Singapore Citizen households must vote in favour of the HIP and Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) households are not eligible to poll. HDB publishes the eligible precincts for HIP polling and polling results on their website.
Throughout the 99-lease of an HDB flat, HIP will be carried out twice. The first round of HIP would happen around the 30-year mark and it resolves common maintenance problems such as spalling concrete. The second HIP round, or HIP II, as announced during the 2018 National Day Rally, will take place at around the 60- to 70-year mark.
What Are The Works Covered By Home Improvement Programme (HIP)?
HIP covers 3 components: Essential, Optional and Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) Improvements.
Essential improvements are compulsory improvements considered necessary for public health, safety, and for technical reasons. They include:
- Repair spalling concrete/ structural cracks
- Replace waste / soil discharge stacks – The pipes will be changed if they are cast iron, mixture of cast iron and UPVC, or if they are UPVC and there are leaks and cracks.
- Replace pipe sockets with new clothes drying rack
- Upgrade electrical load – This will be carried out after the completion of HIP works, if necessary.
Essential improvements are fully paid for by the government for Singapore Citizen households. However, SPR households will have to pay the full upgrading cost for essential improvements.
Optional improvements are improvements that can be added while essential improvements are being carried out. You may choose to opt out and only pay for your share of the improvement works carried out in your flat. These optional improvements include
- Package to upgrade existing toilet(s)/ bathroom(s)*
- New decorative door
- New metal grille gate
- New refuse chute hopper, where applicable
Note: To opt out of the toilet upgrading, your toilets must pass a water test for leaks to prevent ceiling leaks in the flat below. For recently renovated flats or flat owners who intend to renovate their toilets, this may be the preferred option as the toilet upgrading package is standardised for the entire block, with little room for customisation.
To remain relevant to residents, HDB has also refreshed their HIP package to include more contemporary and better-quality improvement items (e.g. external retractable clothes drying rack). These refreshed items apply to HIP projects polled after March 2020.
HDB’s sample images of the refreshed HIP package that apply for HIP projects polled after Mar 2020.
Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) improvements are optional improvements that enhance the safety and comfort of seniors living in HDB flats.
EASE improvements include:
- Slip-resistant treatment to floor tiles of 2 toilets/ bathrooms
- Grab bars (available in white or reddish brown) in 2 toilets/ bathrooms
- Ramps to navigate level differences in the flat and at the main entrance, where technically feasible
Unlike the other improvements under HIP, EASE can actually be implemented at any time for all HDB flats in all towns as long as your household qualifies under the EASE (Direct Application). This means that you don’t have to feel like you are missing out by not applying for EASE during HIP or waiting for HIP if you have a senior in the household.
What Happens During Home Improvement Programme (HIP)?
Upgrading works for the first block in the precinct will start about 4 months after successful polling. Works in the individual flats will be carried out from Mondays to Saturdays, 8 am to 6pm and will take up to 10 work days to complete.
For residents who have concealed the pipes during renovation, do note that for soil/waste pipe repair and replacement works, homeowners have to remove and reinstate any fittings, fixtures or cabinets that obstruct the works at their own cost.
During the period of upgrading works, HDB would provide temporary toilets in the void deck as well as air-conditioned rest and study rooms at the void deck. The expected duration for HIP to be completed for a typical precinct is about 1.5 to 2 years. Works for each flat will take 10 working days or less, depending on the improvement chosen.
How Much Does Home Improvement Programme (HIP) Cost?
For Singapore Citizen (SC) households, the essential improvements are fully funded by the government and substantial subsidies are given for the optional improvements. The amount of subsidy ranges from 87.5% for Executive flats to 95% for 1/2/3-room flats.
|Essential improvements||Fully funded|
|Optional improvements||5% ($550*)||7.5% ($825*)||10% ($1,100*)||12.5% ($1,375*)|
|EASE (with single-step ramp)||5% ($125*)||7.5% ($187.50*)||10% ($250*)||12.5% ($312.50*)|
*all amounts stated are estimates and subject to GST. Final amount will only be determined upon completion of upgrading works. Source: HDB
For elderly residents living in HDB rental flats, the improvement items will be fully funded by the government.
For Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) households, there will be no subsidy available. They will have to pay the full upgrading cost for essential improvements as well as any optional or EASE improvements they select for. However, they can be reimbursed with the upgrading subsidy if a flat owner obtains Singapore citizenship within 1 year from the date of billing.
Flat owners will only need to pay for the upgrading cost upon completion of the HIP. This can be made using cash or CPF or a combination of both. You also have the option of paying by monthly instalment plan. SC households would be eligible for concessionary interest rate if they choose to pay via instalments, while SPR households can convert from market interest rate to concessionary interest rate if they obtain Singapore citizenship.
Additionally, SC households can access financial assistance to help with the upgrading cost. Homeowners whose monthly household income is less than $2,000 may extend their payment period to a maximum of 25 years. Homeowners aged 55 years and above can defer upgrading cost payment with interest until the flat is sold or transferred to another name. Homeowners in financial hardship may be allowed to defer payment (subject to HDB’s assessment) for a year or until the flat is sold or transferred.
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