The Home Improvement Programme (HIP) HDB scheme is a heavily subsidised government programme designed to upgrade older flats.
As Singapore property owners holding HDB flats at the tail end of their leases are fretting over what would happen if their leases expire before they do, the HIP is one bright spot in the midst of what seems to be doom and gloom. Other schemes that home owners can pray to qualify for are the SERS and VERS.
Introduced in 2007, the Home Improvement Programme (HIP) will now be extended to another 230,000 flats built between 1987 and 1997, in addition to the 320,000 flats built in 1986 and earlier that are already eligible. Flats to benefit from this announcement potentially include those in Pasir Ris, Yishun, Tampines and Jurong.
So your old flat might be a depreciating asset, but hey, upgrading it might help it recover some of its lost value.
- What is the Home Improvement Programme (HIP)?
- What is the EASE HDB Scheme?
- How much do you pay for HIP HDB programme?
- How long does HIP take?
- HDB toilet upgrading and renovation: How to go to the toilet during HIP?
- How should you prepare your home before HIP renovations?
What is the Home Improvement Programme?
The HDB Home Improvement Programme is designed to alleviate maintenance problems in older flats.
A block of flats must first be selected for HIP by the HDB before it is eligible for maintenance and upgrades under the programme. The next batch of flats selected for HIP will be announced by 2019.
Once a block of flats has been selected for HIP, HDB will carry out a poll amongst the Singapore citizen households in the block. PRs are not eligible to vote. HDB will only proceed with HIP if at least 75% of these households vote in favour of carrying on with the programme.
So what happens when HIP renovations have been confirmed? While HIP is heavily subsidised by the government, residents will still need to pay a small fraction of the costs for optional upgrades (more on that later).
Every HDB flat will go through an estimated two HIP upgrading exercises over the lifetime of its 99 year lease. The first HIP exercise will take place about 30 years after the start date of the lease, and the second will take place after about 60 to 70 years.
As HDB flats get older, the structure starts to exhibit problems such as cracked concrete or aging waste discharge stacks that need to be replaced.
HIP’s essential improvements, which are extended to all flat owners under the programme, will be focused on solving issues that include:
- Repairs to spalling concrete or structural cracks
- Replacement of waste or soil discharge stacks
- Replacement of pipe sockets with new clothes drying rack
- Upgrading of electrical load
Most older flat-owners do not want their flats to look like they came from the 1960s, since the retro-look is only cool to people born after 1980.
That’s why HIP also lets home-owners opt for some add-ons.
Residents can opt for the following:
- Upgrading of existing toilets or bathrooms
- New decorative door
- New metal grille gate
- New refuse chute hopper
While these improvements are framed as optional, be warned that those who choose to opt out of the toilet upgrading must ensure their toilets can pass a water test for leaks to prevent ceiling leaks in the flat below.
What is the EASE HDB Scheme?
Older flats tend to be populated by older people, so the EASE (Enhancement for Active Seniors) is one component of Home Improvement Programme that aims to make flats elder-friendly.
One key feature of EASE HDB scheme is that residents can opt for it at any time even if their flats have not been selected for HDB’s HIP.
Some of the possible improvements under EASE include the following:
- Installation of slip-resistant treatment to floor tiles of up to two bathrooms
- Installation of 8 to 10 grab bars in flat and first toilet, and 6 in second toilet
- Installation of up to 5 ramps if there are level differences in the flat and/or at main entrances equipped with a single step
Residents can submit an online application for EASE via HDB’s website.
How much do you pay for HIP HDB programme?
The government will foot the entire bill for all the essential works for Singapore citizen households. In other words, you pay nothing for the essential works.
The optional works under Home Improvement Programme and all EASE works will be heavily subsidised, with households paying a small percentage of the costs.
Costs payable for HIP optional works by Singapore citizen households
For HIP optional works, you will pay between 5% and 12.5% of the cost.
Costs payable for EASE works by Singapore citizen households
The government will pay between 87.5% and 95% of the cost of EASE works depending on the flat type.
|Cost of EASE per flat||$2,500||$2,500||$2,500||$2,500|
|The government pays||$2,375
|Singapore citizens pay||$125
Costs payable by Permanent Resident households
Sorry, PRs, but the government subsidies will only be made available to Singapore citizen households. That means PR households will have to pay the full upgrading cost for BOTH essential works and any optional works and/or EASE works they have chosen.
However, if a PR household becomes a Singapore citizen household within a year from the date they are billed for the works, they can apply to receive the upgrading subsidy.
How long does HIP take?
The timeline for works under Home Improvement Programme are designed to cause as little disruption to households as possible.
Typically, upgrading works in each individual flat take up to 10 days, and vary depending on the optional works the household has picked.
These 10 days do not include non-working days like Sundays, so the actual amount of time a flat remains under renovation might be up to 14 days.
HDB toilet upgrading and renovation: How to go to the toilet during HIP?
You might be looking forward to having your toilet upgraded and finally not having to fear all hell breaking loose each time you flush.
But toilet upgrading also means your toilet will be out of bounds for the duration of the works. You might also not have running water at times.
If you have more than one toilet in your flat and both of them are being upgraded, don’t think you can use one while the other is being renovated. Works on both of the toilets will begin at the same time.
Here’s what your situation will be like during toilet upgrading:
- HDB will install a portable toilet, equipped with a heated shower head and tap, in your kitchen. This can only be done if there is adequate space in your kitchen. And oh yes, it’ll be a no-flush toilet….
- HDB will also install a common toilet in the void deck of your block.
Obviously, none of the above options sounds very appealing. If you are on good terms with your neighbours, see if you can nip over to theirs to use the bathroom for the duration of the works.
How should you prepare your home before HIP renovations?
While the Home Improvement Programme process sounds pretty relaxing and stress-free (only ten days, right?), in reality there is a lot you should do to prepare for the upgrading process, unless you want to find everything in your home coated in a layer of dust.
Here are some things you should do in the lead up to your HIP renovations.
- To minimise the number of items that will be exposed to dust and dirt, store as many things as possible in your bedrooms. This includes ornaments, clocks, electronics, books, furniture items and so on.
- Cover all exposed furniture and items in the clear plastic that is given to you by the HIP workers.
- If you don’t want to have to deal with cleaning the walls and floors, you’ll need to cover them in plastic too.
- Lock the bedroom doors and seal them by stopping up the gap underneath the door. You can do this with a moist, rolled-up towel, or by using a door stop or door sweep if you have one.
What’s more, while you can technically remain in your flat while the works are ongoing, in reality your home is going to be very barely habitable. Besides having to use those less-than-palatable porta-potties, you’re also going to have to deal with drilling happening right in your unit, as well as dust and dirt everywhere. At times, you may also not have running water or electricity.
At least one adult must be around while the flat is undergoing HIP works. So, one person in your household will have to sacrifice themselves.
For the other members of the household, if you have alternative accommodation in the form of a friend or relative’s home you can crash at, it would be a good idea to stay there until the works are over. Otherwise, you might want to consider renting a place on sites like Airbnb.
Do you have any questions about Home Improvement Programme? Leave them in the comments.