HDB QnA: How To Read HDB Floor Plan (Expert Explained)

HDB QnA: How To Read HDB Floor Plan (Expert Explained)

Whether you’re a new homeowner or planning a renovation, understanding how to read and interpret an HDB floor plan can empower you to make informed decisions about your home’s design and functionality.

Unlike other countries where size is a readily affordable luxury, Singapore isn’t the case. For every psf or 1 bedroom extra, buyers could be paying anywhere from $50,000 extra for public housing or even up to a million dollars for private housing. Gosh!

While size is an important factor, another more important one is the space efficiency. We do see better layout efficiency for new housing and better use of space as compared to older properties.

With that, here’s how to read HDB floor plan and make decisions based on your purchasing decision, future needs, and wants to get the best property investment for you or your family.

Key Takeaways

  • Learn the basics of HDB floor plans, including how to identify different areas, interpret symbols and measurements, and recognize non-negotiable spaces like structural elements.
  • Discover design strategies tailored to various HDB flat types, from maximizing space in smaller flats to innovative layouts for larger and multi-generational homes.
  • Understand how to incorporate both functionality and aesthetics into your home, balancing practical needs with design elements and making the most of multipurpose rooms and furniture.
  • Navigate the HDB renovation rules and restrictions with ease, learning about guidelines, non-hackable walls, and the approval process for renovation works.
  • Leverage technology and resources such as the HDB Flat Portal, virtual design tools, and professional advice to support and enhance your home design journey.

How To Read HDB Floor Plan

HDB QnA: How To Read HDB Floor Plan (Expert Explained)

To start off, here are 3 factors to look into your HDB floor plan.

Identifying Different Areas and Rooms

When you begin to decode an HDB floor plan, it’s crucial to distinguish between the various areas and rooms. A common misconception is that the term ‘four-room flat‘ indicates the number of bedrooms. However, a ‘four-room flat’ refers to a specific HDB flat type, and the number does not indicate the number of bedrooms in the flat.

image 21

In this case for a 4-room flat, the kitchen is considered to be 1 room.

The layout may vary slightly based on the specific type of 4-room HDB flat, such as 4STD, 4I, 4NG, 4S, or 4A, which differ in size, features, and the placement of rooms.

Understanding the purpose of each space is essential. For instance, some layouts are designed to balance open space with the option to close off areas, catering to different lifestyles. Always consider the floor area of each room by looking at the measures mentioned at the room’s length and width to determine the size of your area.

Interpreting Symbols and Measurements

image 22
Photo taken from the LuxuryCondo

When reading an HDB floor plan, it’s crucial to understand the symbols and measurements that represent various elements of the flat. These symbols indicate the location of doors, windows, and other fixtures, while measurements provide the dimensions of each room and space. Familiarizing yourself with these details can help you visualize the layout and size of the flat more accurately.

For instance, a door symbol typically appears as a straight line that breaks the wall line, with an arc indicating the direction in which the door opens. Window symbols are usually represented by a pair of parallel lines. It’s also important to note that some floor plans may not use standard wall symbols, which can lead to confusion if not clarified.

Measurements are often provided in millimeters (mm) or meters (m), and understanding how to convert these can be essential when planning furniture placement or renovations.

Additionally, appliance and furniture symbols on the floor plan may not always represent what will actually be provided. It’s advisable to ask about these details to avoid any assumptions that could affect your design choices. Here’s a quick reference for some common symbols found in HDB floor plans:

Recognizing Structural Elements and Non-Negotiable Spaces

When reading an HDB floor plan, it’s crucial to identify the structural elements that are integral to the building’s integrity. These include columns, beams, and load-bearing walls, which are often marked distinctly on the plan. Understanding where these elements are located is essential as they cannot be altered during renovation.

Non-negotiable spaces, such as the household shelter and refuse chute, are also clearly indicated on the plan. These areas serve specific functions and are subject to strict regulations. For instance, the household shelter is a mandatory feature in all HDB flats, designed to provide protection during emergencies and must remain intact.

It’s important to plan your renovation with these constraints in mind, ensuring that your design works around these non-negotiable elements.

Here’s a quick reference to help you identify non-negotiable spaces in your HDB flat:

  • Household Shelter (HS)
  • Refuse Chute (RC)
  • Air-Conditioner Ledge (AC)
  • Bay Windows (BW)
  • Structural Columns (SC)
  • Load-Bearing Walls (LBW)

By recognizing these elements and spaces, you can make informed decisions about your renovation possibilities and avoid costly mistakes.

Design Strategies for Different HDB Flat Types

Design Strategies for Different HDB Flat Types

Maximizing Space in 2-Room and 3-Room Flats

When it comes to maximizing space in 2-room and 3-room HDB flats, every square meter counts. The key is to create a functional yet aesthetically pleasing environment that caters to your lifestyle needs. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Optimize vertical space: Utilize walls by installing shelves, hooks, and mounted organizers. This approach not only saves floor space but also keeps your belongings organized and easily accessible.
  • Choose multipurpose furniture: Invest in furniture that serves more than one function, such as a sofa bed or a dining table that can double as a workspace.
  • Implement smart storage solutions: Identify negative space in your flat, such as under the bed or above cabinets, to install additional storage.

By carefully planning each area of your home, you can create a space that feels larger and more open, even within the confines of a smaller flat.

Remember, the goal is not just to fit your possessions into a limited area, but to do so in a way that enhances your quality of life. Smart spends on budget-friendly renovation ideas can lead to significant improvements without breaking the bank.

Creative Layouts for 4-Room and 5-Room Flats

When it comes to designing 4-room and 5-room HDB flats, flexibility and foresight are crucial. These larger flats offer more space, which can be optimized to accommodate changing family needs over time. For instance, a 4-room flat might initially have surplus rooms, but as a family grows, each room can be adapted for different purposes, such as a nursery or a study.

In a 5-room flat, consider creating a wall partition that serves as both a display and storage feature. This not only enhances the aesthetics but also adds functionality to the living space.

Here are some creative strategies to consider:

Remember, the key to a successful layout is not just about the present but also planning for the future. Whether you’re moving in with your family or living as a couple, future-proofing your space is essential.

Innovative Ideas for 3Gen Flat Layouts

When it comes to 3Gen flats, innovative design is key to creating a harmonious space that caters to the needs of multiple generations living under one roof. One effective strategy is to demarcate zones for different activities, ensuring that communal areas are comfortable while also providing private spaces for individual family members.

  • Demarcate a zone for a flexible activity area next to the living room.
  • Convert junior bedrooms into entertainment or activity spaces.
  • Ensure the kitchen includes sufficient storage compartments to minimize clutter.

Remember, while personalizing your 3Gen flat, it’s essential to balance communal living with private retreats to accommodate the dynamics of a multi-generational family.

Understanding the layout options available, such as those at Central Weave @ AMK or Tampines GreenRidges, can inspire you to furnish your space effectively. Hack down walls where possible to free up floor space, but always be mindful of structural elements like the household shelter that cannot be altered.

Incorporating Functionality & Aesthetics

Incorporating Functionality and Aesthetics

Balancing Practicality with Design in Living Spaces

When it comes to balancing practicality with design in living spaces, the key is to create an environment that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional. Pay attention to the scale of your furniture and decor items, ensuring that larger pieces are complemented by smaller ones to maintain a harmonious composition. This balance is crucial not only for the visual appeal but also for the practical use of the space.

First and foremost, consider the size and layout of the room. Furniture should be chosen not only for its design but also for its fit within the space, allowing for comfortable movement and utility. The challenge lies in ensuring that your living space reflects your personal style while fulfilling its functional purpose, whether you opt for a minimalist approach or a more eclectic mix.

  • Ensure furniture fits well and allows for easy movement
  • Balance larger furniture with smaller decor items
  • Reflect personal style while maintaining functionality

Navigating the world of interior design is a balancing act between embracing the latest design trends and addressing the practical needs of everyday life. It’s about finding that sweet spot where form meets function, creating a space that is both inviting and efficient.

Utilizing the Household Shelter Effectively

The Household Shelter is a staple in HDB flats, serving as a protective space during emergencies. However, its presence need not be a design hindrance. With creativity, it can be transformed into a valuable part of your home. Convert your bomb shelter into a utility room to keep food supplies, exercise gear, and clothing. This not only maximizes the space but also keeps your living areas clutter-free.

When facing issues with the shelter door, simple solutions like applying a spray oil lubricant onto the latch can be effective. For persistent problems, don’t hesitate to engage a contractor for household shelter door repair.

Electrical safety is paramount. Ensure that any modifications to plugs and socket outlets within the shelter are carried out by a licensed electrician. This is crucial for maintaining the integrity of the shelter and adhering to safety regulations.

Lastly, consider the use of camouflaged doors to seamlessly integrate the shelter into your home’s aesthetic. This clever design choice can make the household shelter virtually invisible, maintaining the flow and feel of your living space.

Designing Multipurpose Rooms and Furniture

In the quest to maximize the utility of every square foot, designing multipurpose rooms and furniture is key. For instance, a spare room can be transformed into a functional heaven by incorporating a stylish sofa bed or a daybed that serves as both a sleeping area and seating during the day. This approach not only saves space but also ensures that the room can adapt to various needs throughout the day.

When planning your space, consider furniture that offers multiple uses. Extendable dining tables, storage ottomans, and fold-down desks are excellent examples of furniture that can change function with ease. Here’s a list of multipurpose furniture ideas to consider:

  • Storage Furniture: Ottomans, beds with drawers, and entertainment units with hidden storage.
  • Space-Saving Products: Wall-mounted desks, drop-leaf tables, and nesting tables.
  • Extendable Furniture: Dining tables and coffee tables that expand when needed.
  • Multi-Purpose Furniture: Sofa beds, daybeds, and bench seating with storage.

Embrace the art of minimalist design to create a tranquil, uncluttered environment that promotes a sense of calm and functionality. By decluttering and choosing the right furniture, you can design a space that is both practical and serene.

Remember, innovative planning is not just about the furniture you choose; it’s also about the overall layout and flow of your home. Whether it’s a 4-room HDB flat or a different configuration, the goal is to create a cohesive space that accommodates your lifestyle while maintaining aesthetic appeal.

Navigating Renovation Rules and Restrictions

Young Adult Work GIF by younginvincibles

Before embarking on the renovation journey for your HDB flat, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the HDB renovation guidelines. These rules are designed to maintain the structural integrity of the building and ensure the safety of residents.

For instance, there are restrictions on the type of works that can be performed in newly built flats, such as a 3-year restriction period for the removal of wall and floor finishes in bathrooms and toilets.

It’s important to note that Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) flats have their own set of specific guidelines due to their unique designs by private developers.

When planning renovations, consider the following points:

  • Always check for the latest guidelines on the HDB website.
  • Understand the limitations for structural changes, especially for non-hackable walls.
  • Be aware of the time frames for certain renovations, like the 3-year restriction for new flats.
  • Seek professional advice to ensure compliance with all regulations.

Identifying Non-Hackable Walls and Features

When planning renovations in your HDB flat, it’s crucial to know which walls and features are non-negotiable. Structural or load-bearing walls are integral to the building’s integrity and cannot be altered. To identify these, refer to your HDB floor plan and look for bolded lines, which typically indicate non-hackable walls. Additionally, certain features like beams and columns are also untouchable for safety reasons.

Before commencing any renovation that involves demolition or hacking of walls, a HDB Hacking Permit is mandatory. This ensures that the structural integrity of the building is not compromised. For works that include hacking and laying of wall or floor tiles, an application for Notice of Alteration (NOA) is required. However, some items are exempt and do not require an application.

It’s essential to consult the HDB’s renovation guidelines and seek professional advice to avoid unlawful renovations that might lead to hefty fines or even the reinstatement of the original structure.

Seeking Approval for Renovation Works

Before embarking on your renovation journey, it’s crucial to obtain approval from the Housing and Development Board (HDB). This step ensures that your renovation plans comply with the regulations set forth to maintain the structural integrity and safety of HDB estates. For newly completed blocks, the approved renovations must be completed within a specified timeframe, typically within 3 months from the date of the permit.

To streamline the approval process, familiarize yourself with the necessary documentation and procedures. Applying for approval may seem daunting, but understanding what is required can make the process more manageable.

If you’re unsure about whether your renovation requires a permit, the HDB website provides clear guidelines on the types of work that necessitate approval. Additionally, you can consult the Directory of Renovation Contractors (DRC) or a BCA Approved Window Contractor to ensure that you engage services that are recognized and permitted to carry out renovation works in HDB flats.

Remember, failure to comply with HDB’s renovation guidelines can result in penalties, so it’s important to adhere to the rules and seek the necessary approvals before proceeding.

Leveraging Technology and Resources

Leveraging Technology and Resources

Using the HDB Flat Portal for Information

The HDB Flat Portal is an essential resource for prospective homeowners, providing a comprehensive suite of tools to assist in the home buying process. From planning finances with the budget calculator to applying for a new flat, the portal streamlines the entire journey.

To begin, check your eligibility and shortlist your preferred BTO flat launches. The portal simplifies these steps, ensuring you have all the necessary information at your fingertips. You can filter available flats by various criteria, and detailed information on building heights and planning approval is readily accessible.

When it’s time to book your flat, the portal notifies you about the booking appointment, allowing you to view details through My HDBPage using your Singpass. This digital convenience means there’s no need to visit the HDB Hub in person.

The HDB Flat Portal is not just a tool for transactions; it’s a gateway to a wealth of information, including upcoming BTO exercises, application procedures, and support services for those without internet access.

Exploring Design Ideas with Virtual Tools

In the age of digital innovation, virtual tools are revolutionizing the way we envision and plan our living spaces. With a plethora of design apps at our fingertips, homeowners can now create detailed floor plans, experiment with different furniture arrangements, and visualize the end result in both 2D and 3D formats. These tools often include extensive libraries of real brands’ products, allowing for a realistic representation of how a room could look.

By leveraging virtual tools, you can easily figure out the theme of your space, including materials and colors, and see how they blend together in your layout. Mood boards, material boards, and even 3D renders can be instrumental in this process.

The use of virtual tours also provides a unique opportunity to explore how compact spaces can be optimized for style and functionality. For instance, a virtual tour of a 5-Room HDB flat can offer valuable insights into space utilization and interior design trends. Below is a list of ways to utilize these virtual tools effectively:

  • Create a floor plan and furnish your virtual room with real brands’ products.
  • Find inspiration for the latest trends through virtual tours and design apps.
  • Explore user-friendly design apps to visualize your dream space.
  • Determine the theme, materials, and colors for your space using mood boards and 3D renders.

Getting Professional Advice and Support

After exploring various design ideas and leveraging virtual tools, seeking professional advice and support is a crucial step in ensuring that your HDB flat renovation aligns with both your vision and the regulatory requirements. Professionals can provide insights into the latest trends, materials, and space-saving techniques that can transform your flat into a functional and stylish home.

When selecting a professional, consider their portfolio, experience, and reviews from past clients. It’s also important to discuss your budget and expectations upfront to ensure a smooth collaboration. Here’s a list of potential professionals you might engage:

  • Interior Designers
  • Architects
  • Structural Engineers
  • Renovation Contractors

Each professional brings a unique set of skills and perspectives to the table, which can greatly enhance the outcome of your renovation project.

Remember to verify the credentials of the professionals you intend to hire, especially those who will handle structural changes. They should be registered with the relevant authorities, such as the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) in Singapore. By doing so, you ensure that your renovation works are carried out safely and in compliance with HDB’s guidelines.


Whether you’re looking at a 2-room BTO or a spacious 5-room flat, the ability to interpret the floor plan allows you to maximize space, integrate design elements, and ensure functionality.

We’ve covered essential tips and design ideas to help you navigate through the various floor plans, from making the most of the household shelter to creating multifunctional spaces.

Remember, a well-thought-out plan is the foundation of a comfortable and aesthetically pleasing home. So take your time, use the resources available, and don’t hesitate to seek professional advice to bring your vision to life.

Aaron Oon is a Senior Associate Director at Propnex and Founder of Real Estate Insider. A consistent Top Producer in the competitive world of real estate, Armed with a Finance degree from NUS, Aaron is more than just a real estate agent; he’s a strategic thinker and a creative problem solver.

If you are looking to invest in a property here in Singapore or would like to know more about Singapore’s property market. Be sure to reach out through the Calendy video link below:

Want to know more about Property Investing Aaron Oon

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I identify different areas and rooms in an HDB floor plan?

Each area and room in an HDB floor plan is typically labeled and outlined. Look for labels like ‘Living Room’, ‘Bedroom’, and ‘Kitchen’, and note the walls and partitions that define each space.

What do the symbols and measurements on an HDB floor plan mean?

Symbols on an HDB floor plan represent various elements like doors, windows, and electrical outlets. Measurements indicate the size of rooms and spaces, usually in millimeters or meters.

Are there any non-negotiable spaces in HDB flats that I can’t alter?

Yes, structural elements like beams and columns, as well as the household shelter, are non-negotiable spaces that cannot be altered during renovation.

What should I consider when planning renovations for my HDB flat?

When planning renovations, consider HDB’s guidelines, which include identifying non-hackable walls, seeking approval for works, and ensuring that changes are safe and legal.

How can I use the HDB Flat Portal for information on my flat?

The HDB Flat Portal provides detailed information about HDB flats, including upcoming BTO exercises, application procedures, and design ideas. Use it to make informed decisions about your flat.

Can I incorporate technology into my HDB flat design?

Absolutely! You can use virtual tools to explore design ideas and get professional advice. Leveraging technology can help you visualize and plan your space more effectively.

Leave a Reply