How To Read Your HDB Floor Plan Easily, So That You Can Plan Without Being Blur

17 February 2022 | BY

Before going ahead with a HDB flat and starting renovations, make sure you’ve taken a proper look at the floor plan.

hdb floor plan cover

For a first-time home buyer, reading a floor plan is no easy task. But we need to make sure that we have the ability to read our new home’s floor plan before going through with the deal. In the age of Covid, most property sales are made through online photos and 3D renderings – but they aren’t enough for you to properly imagine what walking through your new home will be like. 

And after all, we all want to thoroughly understand what we’re forking out our hard-earned life savings for, especially before we begin our home renovation journey and furniture shopping spree. Make sure you know how to read your HDB floor plan easily before you sign on the dotted line. 

Common symbols in floor plans

hdb floor plan common symbols3Gen flat
Image credit: Teoalida

First things first, you’ll notice that certain symbols repeat across all HDB floor plans. Bolded lines, detailed measurements and enclosed spaces – it’s all very daunting at first glance. Here’s a quick breakdown of what the most common symbols are you’ll see in a HDB floor plan: 

Walls – structural or normal? 

If you see bolded lines, these are structural walls – meaning that you aren’t able to hack them since they hold up the building foundation. Plan your reno around them. Normal walls are depicted through thin lines, and this is where you can go crazy with your dream home reno. You can find out more about hacking down walls in your flat here.

hdb floor plan wallsImage adapted from: Teoalida

Tip: If you’ve got your heart set on an open-plan concept, the very first step is to make sure that you don’t have any structural walls standing between you and your desired living room. 

Doors – are they provided? 

It might come as a surprise, but when buying a BTO flat, not all doors are provided. First, you’ll need to understand the symbols that represent each door type. A solid line indicates that the door is a given – you’ll most likely see this for the main door. In comparison, a dotted line shows that there’s space for a doorway – but the door isn’t provided. 

hdb floor plan doorsImage adapted from: Teoalida

You’ll also notice that the kitchen or service yard area pictures a different doorway: one that is sliding or folding. Another key thing to note is that the arc of the door signals which way it swings. For bedrooms or other internal rooms, the door typically swings inwards. 

Windows – do they slide or swing open? 

hdb floor plan windows 1

Many BTO flats these days, no matter the number of rooms, have a cosier floor plan. We all know how important natural light and fresh air is, especially in a smaller, enclosed space. In a HDB flat, you typically have three main types of windows: sliding, top-hung and casement

hdb floor plan windows 2Image adapted from: Teoalida

As you can see, sliding windows are shown with thin lines and as their name suggests, are windows that can slide open. Top-hung windows can be found in practical areas, such as bathrooms, kitchens and service yards, to let in ventilation. 

hdb floor plan windows 3Image adapted from: Teoalida

In contrast, casement windows swing outwards via a hinge or pivot.

Other common symbols

There are still a few other symbols to consider – these aren’t apparent in all HDB flats but are prevalent in certain unit types.

hdb floor plan other symbolsImage adapted from: MyDailyMoo and Teoalida

You’ll most likely see a laundry rack area near the service yard and kitchen, and a 50mm or 100mm drop if there’s a balcony or outdoor area – this is so that the area doesn’t flood when raining. As for maisonettes, there’ll also be a staircase landing.

Common abbreviations in floor plans

hdb floor plan bathroomA W/C – which is really just your bathroom.

Floor plans aren’t expansive enough to fully explain what everything means. As with most things in Singapore, there’s an overkill of abbreviations that don’t always make sense. Let’s run through them, so we have a better idea of how to read a floor plan:

  • HS – Household Shelter, otherwise known as a bomb shelter. Most use it as a storeroom, but see what else you can do to transform your bomb shelter.
  • BW – Bay Window, a window that is raised 0.5m from the ground that has a concrete ledge below.
  • DB – Distribution Board, a.k.a. your electrical switchboard.
  • W/D – Washer or Dryer area, most commonly found in your service yard or near the kitchen.
  • W/C – Water Closet, basically a toilet or bathroom.

Other things you need to consider when buying a HDB

While buying a HDB flat is the first step to adulting life, it’s crucial that you know how to read your floor plan before taking any further steps. One, you need to be aware of what you’re paying for, and two, thoroughly understand any space limits or restrictions when carrying out reno work. 

You’ll always want to look out for a regular-shaped floor plan. Ideally, something that’s squarish so you can easily plan and furnish the space. Make sure there aren’t any oblong corners or oddly-shaped pillars in the middle so it’s easier to decorate once you move in. 

hdb floor plan living room

While a squarish layout makes sure you’re not wasting any space, you’ll also need to double check your floor plan for any wasted space – with an emphasis on airspace, bay windows and even air con ledges. These often count towards your unit’s footage, but since they’re not always usable or functional, many perceive it as unnecessary. 

It also pays off to make sure that the layout fits your dream home – whether the bedrooms are adequately sized, if there are enough ensuite bathrooms and if privacy is a concern, how close the rooms are to each other. 

HDB floor plans in Singapore

Before going ahead with a HDB flat, make sure you’ve taken a proper look at the floor plan. It might appear intimidating at first sight, but you’ll need to know the details if you’ve got a full renovation ahead – especially if it’s a sparse BTO flat. To get inspired on how to design your ideal HDB flat, you can check out:

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