When it comes to buying an HDB resale flat, location—contrary to popular belief—isn’t everything. If you are not looking to do a major overhaul or you don’t want to splash out too much renovation moolah on an already expensive property, you will want to make sure the interiors are almost move-in ready. This guide will show you the 8 areas of the home to nosy about when you’re house viewing.
Image credit: John T | Unsplash
Design: Design NEU
One of the first things to look out for when viewing the resale flat is the layout. Will you be able to work with the existing space? Are there walls you prefer to hack, and if so, can those walls be hacked in the first place? Check the original floor plan.
» Read more: How to read your floor plans
Check to see if the resale flat is able to accommodate any existing furniture that you are planning to bring along. Whip out your measuring tape to check.
If the flat features an awkward layout, are you willing to work around that? Or will there be additional renovation costs incurred to mitigate the effects of the odd shape?
Sunlight, ventilation and outside noise
Design: Ace Interior Design
Everyone knows it’s best to do property viewing during midday, where the sun is hottest to determine whether your potential home is going to be receiving the much-dreaded western sun.
While you want to avoid a resale flat where the afternoon sun hits on areas like the living room and bedrooms, places where you will spend a lot of time lounging and relaxing, you will definitely want sunlight hitting the service yard. This is especially so if you are planning to hang your clothes out to dry.
A visit during the day will also help you determine if there’s enough daylight around the house without having to switch on the lights.
Request to open all the windows to check for ventilation and outside noise. If the potential home is by a busy road or school, check if the noise levels are at an acceptable level.
Ensure bathrooms are also well ventilated. You can take a quick sniff. Any musty smells are likely indications of a bathroom that isn’t well ventilated. You don’t want to risk a mould or mildew problem down the road.
Walls and ceilings
Design: Black N White Haus
Look closely at the walls and ceilings of the resale flat. Are there signs of mould, unexplainable stains, areas that looked recently sealed? A mould problem is difficult to eradicate and can cause health problems down the road if left untreated. Unexplainable stains might indicate a leak somewhere, while sealed areas can suggest cracks underneath.
Another possible red flag: a new paint-job. This might indicate underlying issues that the sellers are trying to conceal.
Design: Lux Design
The flooring is another surface you will want to pay attention to in the resale flat, particularly if you want to retain it. Make certain there are no cracked or missing tiles, as these can be difficult to find and replace. Request to shift furniture around so you will know the flooring underneath is in good condition.
For natural flooring like marble or granite, check the condition and see if you will need to factor in an extra cost to polish them. With vinyl flooring, determine whether the flooring is smooth and levelled and there is no evidence of popping tiles.
Design: ROOOT Studio
The built-in carpentry will come with the resale flat purchase so make sure they are in good condition if you don’t intend to replace or remove them. But they shouldn’t just look good on the outside. Open up cabinets and closet doors, pull out drawers, and check the insides to see if there are signs of rot or severe wear and tear. Pay close attention to the cabinet under the sink to be sure that there are no signs of mould growth.
Besides checking the condition and quality of the built-in carpentry, you want to determine there is enough storage space. Will there be room for your small appliances and all your clothes? Is there enough storage space for cleaning supplies? Getting new built-in storage can be expensive (and difficult to have it complement the existing carpentry), while freestanding storage pieces can clutter-up your space.
Kitchen and Bathroom Fixtures
Design: Studio Abby
Besides built-in carpentry, you will want to inspect the built-in appliances and fixtures in the resale flat to see if they are in working condition. Appliances to check include the hob, hood and oven in the kitchen and the instant/storage heater. Request to test out the appliances if you want to keep them after moving in.
Fixtures to check include the faucets, showers and toilets. Turning on the taps to see if the water is flowing at a decent rate. Determine the water pressure at the shower and check to see if the toilets can be flushed properly without producing strange noises.
Other installed fixtures
Design: The Interior Lab
The buyer, following the sale of the resale flat, usually inherits the other fixtures that were installed. These include items like the air-conditioning, lighting and ceiling fans. If you are looking to retain them, check to see if they are working properly too.
To avoid disputes with the seller, it’s best to draw up an inventory list of what will be kept beforehand and bound this by legal agreement. Take plenty of photos so you will know what to expect when moving in, and always be friendly and reasonable during discussions with the homeowners.
Windows and doors
These are often overlooked, but it’s best to check the windows and doors by opening and closing them a few times (especially important if you are buying a really old resale flat). Hinges may have come loose, while parts may have become rusty, which will need repair or replacement. You will also want to see if the locks are working.
Some solid doors also have a tendency to warp over time, which can make them stick and be really difficult to open. For laminated doors, check for signs of peeling.
Buying a flat is a big (and costly) decision, so it pays to check for these areas so you don’t incur additional costs during the renovation. If you are feeling shy, more thorough checks can be conducted in subsequent visits to the resale flat rather than the first one.
This article was originally posted on Renonation.sg, Singapore’s leading renovation and interior design site.