What Is the Home Improvement Programme (Hip) Scheme in Singapore & How Much Is It?

Key Takeaways

The Home Improvement Programme (HIP) in Singapore targets HDB flats over 30 years old, addressing essential maintenance like spalling concrete repairs, waste pipe replacements, and electrical load upgrades. Essential works are fully subsidized, while optional upgrades require partial cost-sharing. The EASE program enhances safety for elderly residents. Proper planning, understanding costs, and considering temporary living arrangements ensure a smooth renovation process.

The Home Improvement Programme (HIP) is a critical initiative by the Housing & Development Board (HDB) in Singapore, aimed at maintaining and upgrading older HDB flats to enhance the living environment for residents. Since its inception in 2007, the HIP has benefited numerous households, ensuring that the ageing infrastructure of HDB flats remains safe and livable.

This article aims to get into the various aspects of the HIP scheme, its eligibility criteria, the types of work covered, and the costs involved, providing a comprehensive guide for homeowners considering this programme.

Understanding the Home Improvement Programme (HIP)

The Home Improvement Programme (HIP) is an essential maintenance initiative by HDB designed to address common maintenance issues in older flats. It focuses on improving the structural integrity and safety of flats that are over 30 years old. This programme ensures that flats remain in good condition and are safe for residents, particularly benefiting those who may not have the means to afford significant home renovations.

Eligibility Criteria for HIP

Eligibility for the HIP scheme is straightforward. HDB flats must be at least 30 years old to qualify for the programme. However, the implementation of HIP is optional. It requires a majority vote from the flat owners in the block. Specifically, more than 75% of the households must agree to the HIP works. This voting process ensures that the majority of residents support the proposed improvements.

Voting Process for HIP Implementation

Once a block is identified for HIP, HDB conducts a poll among the residents. This poll is crucial because the HIP works will only proceed if most residents vote in favour. This democratic process ensures that the community’s needs and preferences are considered. For those living in mixed households, it’s important to note that only Singapore citizens are eligible to vote, whereas Permanent Resident (PR) households do not have voting rights.

The HIP is designed to be carried out twice during the lifespan of a flat: once when it reaches around 30 years of age and again after another 30 to 40 years. This ensures that the flats receive regular maintenance and upgrades, preventing the deterioration of the living environment over time.

The Home Improvement Programme plays a pivotal role in maintaining the quality of life for HDB residents by ensuring their homes remain safe, functional, and aesthetically pleasing.

Scope of HIP Works

Essential Works

The HIP scheme is divided into essential and optional works. Essential works are mandatory improvements aimed at addressing structural and maintenance issues affecting the flats’ safety and functionality. These works include repairs to spalling concrete, replacement of waste pipes, and upgrading electrical load. The primary focus of these essential works is to tackle common maintenance problems that arise in older flats, ensuring that the living environment remains safe and habitable.

Essential works include:

  • Spalling Concrete Repairs: Over time, the concrete in HDB flats can develop cracks and start to spall, which can compromise the structural integrity of the building. The HIP addresses this issue by repairing and reinforcing the affected areas.
  • Waste Pipe Replacement: Old and faulty waste pipes can lead to leaks and water damage, posing a significant health risk. The HIP includes the replacement of these pipes to prevent such issues.
  • Electrical Load Upgrading: As electrical appliances become more prevalent in households, the demand for electrical load increases. The HIP ensures that the electrical infrastructure of the flat is upgraded to handle this increased load, preventing potential electrical hazards.

Optional Works

In addition to essential works, the HIP offers a range of optional upgrades that residents can choose to enhance their living environment. These optional works include upgrading the toilets, installing decorative doors, and adding metal grille gates. While these upgrades are not mandatory, they provide significant benefits in terms of comfort and aesthetics.

Optional works include:

  • Toilet Upgrades: The HIP allows residents to upgrade their toilets, including replacing old fixtures, installing new tiles, and improving ventilation. This can make a significant difference in the overall hygiene and functionality of the bathroom.
  • Decorative Doors: Upgrading to decorative doors can enhance the aesthetic appeal of the flat. These doors come in various designs and materials, allowing residents to choose options that suit their preferences.
  • Metal Grille Gates: Installing metal grille gates can improve the security of the flat, providing an additional layer of protection against intruders.

The optional works under HIP are designed to offer flexibility to residents, allowing them to tailor the upgrades to their specific needs and preferences. While not essential, these improvements can significantly enhance the living experience in HDB flats.

The EASE (Enhancement for Active Seniors) Scheme

The Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) programme is a complementary scheme under the HIP aimed at making HDB flats more elderly-friendly. Given Singapore’s ageing population, the EASE programme is designed to help elderly residents live more independently and safely in their homes. This initiative includes various modifications that enhance mobility and reduce the risk of accidents.

Modifications for Elderly Residents

The EASE programme offers several modifications tailored to the needs of elderly residents. These modifications improve accessibility and safety within the flat, making everyday activities more manageable for seniors.

  • Slip-Resistant Flooring: The EASE programme includes the installation of slip-resistant treatments for floors in up to two bathrooms. This helps prevent falls, a common cause of injuries among the elderly.
  • Grab Bars Installation: Up to 10 grab bars can be installed in various locations within the flat, including bathrooms and other areas where support is needed. These grab bars provide stability and support, making it easier for seniors to move around safely.
  • Ramps Installation: For flats with level differences between rooms, up to five ramps can be installed to improve mobility.

Eligibility and Application Process for EASE

To qualify for the EASE programme, residents must be 65 years old or above or between 60 and 64 years old if they require assistance with daily living activities. Applications for EASE can be made in conjunction with the HIP or as a standalone upgrade for eligible flats.

The EASE programme is a significant step towards creating a safer and more supportive living environment for Singapore’s elderly population. By incorporating these modifications, the programme helps seniors maintain their independence and quality of life within their own homes.

Cost of HIP

Subsidies and Cost-Sharing for Essential and Optional Works

One of the significant advantages of the Home Improvement Programme (HIP) is the financial support provided by the government. The essential works under HIP are fully subsidised, ensuring that all necessary repairs and upgrades are carried out without any cost to the residents. This makes the programme highly accessible and beneficial for all eligible households.

For the optional works, however, residents are required to share a portion of the costs. The cost-sharing mechanism is designed to make the upgrades affordable while encouraging residents to invest in the improvements that matter most to them. The percentage of the cost that residents need to bear depends on the size of their flat.

  • Subsidy for Essential Works: Essential works such as spalling concrete repairs, waste pipe replacement, and electrical load upgrading are fully subsidised.
  • Cost-Sharing for Optional Works: Residents are required to pay between 5% and 12.5% of the cost of optional works, depending on the size of their flat.

Detailed Cost Breakdown Based on Flat Size and Type

The following is a detailed breakdown of the cost-sharing percentages for different flat types under the HIP:

  • Up to 3-Room Flat: 5%
  • 4-Room Flat: 7.5%
  • 5-Room Flat: 10%
  • Executive Condo: 12.5%

This cost-sharing structure ensures that the financial burden is proportionate to the size of the flat, making it fair and manageable for residents.

Financial Responsibilities for Singaporean Citizens and PR Households

It is important to note that these subsidies and cost-sharing arrangements are available only to Singaporean citizens. For Permanent Resident (PR) households, the financial responsibilities are different. PR households are required to pay the total cost of both essential and optional works under the HIP.

However, PR households can convert to citizen households within a year of receiving the HIP bill to qualify for the subsidies. This provides an opportunity for PR households to benefit from the same financial support as citizen households, ensuring that the necessary improvements can be carried out without significant financial strain.

Understanding the cost structure of the HIP is crucial for residents planning to participate in the programme. It allows them to make informed decisions about the optional upgrades and manage their finances effectively.

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Preparing for HIP Renovations

Preparing your HDB flat for HIP renovations is essential to ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience. The renovation process can be disruptive, but homeowners can minimise the inconvenience and protect their belongings with proper planning and preparation.

Here’s how to prepare:

  • Clear and Protect Valuables: Before the renovations begin, clear out and safely store valuable items, ornaments, and essential documents. This will prevent them from getting damaged or lost during the renovation process.
  • Cover Furniture and Appliances: Use plastic covers provided by HIP to protect furniture and appliances from dust and debris. Covering walls and floors can also keep the living environment clean and reduce post-renovation cleaning efforts.
  • Coordinate with Neighbours: Inform your neighbours about the renovation schedule. This can help manage expectations and reduce potential conflicts due to noise and other disruptions.

Managing Dust and Debris

Renovations, especially in older flats, can generate a significant amount of dust and debris. Homeowners must proactively manage this to ensure a healthy and clean living environment.

Here’s how to manage dust and debris:

  • Seal-Off Rooms: Use tape and plastic sheets to seal off rooms that are not being renovated. This will help contain the dust and prevent it from spreading throughout the flat.
  • Regular Cleaning: Schedule regular cleaning sessions during the renovation period to manage dust levels. This will make the final cleanup easier and maintain a livable environment during the works.
  • Use Air Purifiers: Consider using air purifiers to improve air quality in the flat. This is especially important for households with members who have allergies or respiratory issues.

Temporary Living Arrangements During HIP

HIP renovations can be extensive and disruptive, often requiring residents to consider temporary living arrangements. While relocating is not mandatory, many homeowners find it more convenient and comfortable to do so, especially when essential works affect critical areas like bathrooms and kitchens.

Below are some options for temporary living:

  • Staying with Family or Friends: One of the most cost-effective options is to stay with family or friends during the renovation period. This can provide a comfortable and familiar environment without the additional expense of renting.
  • Renting a Hotel Room or Airbnb: For those who prefer more privacy and independence, renting a hotel room or an Airbnb can be a good option. This allows residents to have a comfortable place to stay while the renovation works are ongoing.
  • Short-Term Rental Apartments: Another option is to rent a short-term apartment. This can be particularly useful for larger families or those with specific needs that cannot be accommodated in a hotel room or an Airbnb.

Pros and Cons of Each Temporary Housing Solution

Each temporary living arrangement comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Residents need to weigh these factors based on their individual needs and circumstances.

  • Staying with Family or Friends:
    • Pros: Cost-effective, familiar environment, emotional support.
    • Cons: Lack of privacy and potential inconvenience to hosts.
  • Renting a Hotel Room or Airbnb:
    • Pros: Privacy, convenience, and access to amenities.
    • Cons: Higher cost, limited space, potential availability issues.
  • Short-Term Rental Apartments:
    • Pros: More space, suitable for families, flexibility.
    • Cons: Higher cost and potential difficulty in finding suitable options.

Choosing the right temporary living arrangement can significantly affect how comfortably residents can manage during the HIP renovations. Planning ahead and considering all available options is essential to ensure a smooth transition.

Duration of HIP Works

The duration of HIP works varies depending on the scope of the renovations and the specific needs of each flat. On average, essential works are completed within 10 to 20 working days. However, the timeline can be extended if residents opt for additional optional work or unforeseen issues arise during the renovation.

  • Essential Works: Typically, essential works such as spalling concrete repairs, waste pipe replacements, and electrical load upgrading are completed within 10 to 20 working days. These works are prioritised to ensure the structural integrity and safety of the flats.
  • Optional Works: The duration for optional works can vary significantly based on the types and number of upgrades the residents select. For example, upgrading multiple bathrooms or installing decorative doors can add a few extra days to the overall renovation timeline.

Factors Affecting the Renovation Period

Several factors can influence the duration of HIP works, including the complexity of the renovations, the availability of materials, and the coordination with contractors. Residents need to be aware of these factors and plan accordingly.

  • Complexity of Works: More extensive renovations or unforeseen issues, such as additional repairs needed due to underlying structural problems, can extend the renovation period.
  • Availability of Materials: Delays in delivering materials or equipment can impact the timeline. Ensuring that all necessary materials are available before the start of the renovation can help mitigate this risk.
  • Coordination with Contractors: Efficient coordination with contractors and clear communication can help streamline the renovation process and avoid unnecessary delays.

Understanding the expected timeline and factors that can influence the duration of HIP work helps residents better prepare for the renovation process. Proper planning and communication with the contractors can ensure that the works are completed efficiently and within a reasonable timeframe.

Get Your HDB Flat Renovated Today

The Home Improvement Programme (HIP) is a valuable initiative that significantly enhances the living conditions of HDB flats in Singapore. By addressing essential maintenance issues and offering optional upgrades, the HIP ensures that older flats remain safe, functional, and comfortable for residents. Participating in the HIP improves the quality of life and contributes to the long-term value of the property.

For homeowners considering the HIP, it’s important to understand the scope of work, the associated costs, and the preparation required to ensure a smooth renovation process. With the proper planning and support, the HIP can transform ageing flats into modern, well-maintained homes.

If you’re looking to finance your home improvements, consider applying for a loan with Horison Credit. We offer tailored loan solutions to help you achieve your renovation goals. Visit Horison Credit to apply now and take the first step towards enhancing your home.

 

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