Guide to Rebuilding Landed Properties for Private Home Owners
Updated: Jan 7
Hello again, fellow reader!
Just a quick side note, amidst all the latest trends in regards to video marketing, I still greatly believe in writing as my preferred medium to share comprehensive knowledge. Recently, I was acknowledged as one of the top 15 Singapore Real Estate Blogs! In the future, I might explore various ways of marketing, perhaps vlogging or a reality series!
I sincerely believe that real estate marketing in Singapore is just by a hair away from an explosion of creative ideas, bring life to this billion-dollar industry. Many brilliant real estate personalities over the last few years have been paving the way ahead towards this brilliant future, and I am very excited to be involved in it! Speaking which, that video of the $63 million GCB comes to mind. Phew! What a show, right?
Let’s get back on topic. This guide that I am sharing with you is a large guarded secret by experienced landed real estate agents! Yet, it is my delight to be sharing it with you.
I hope you have an enjoyable time reading this article and do share with me your thoughts on this article, or if there are any inconsistencies, in the comments below!
Buying land to rebuild a home is a tricky scenario as it involves a lot of prior planning. This might result in the case where you have bought land where the result is a less than available area for rebuilding. As a private owner, it is very challenging in sourcing the right landed property contractor in Singapore.
Fret not! This guide will help you to plan your steps moving forward! As always, consult a qualified land surveyor/builder before finalizing any paperwork.
The entire guide will be broken down in various steps, which I believe makes the most sense sequentially.
It starts with planning out your budget financially for the purchase of the land, followed by choosing the right land based on your criteria for rebuilding (i.e. legal requisitions, building setbacks, etc), and ending with the estimated cost for your rebuilding project.
At the end of every step will be an important pointer which is often overlooked by both buyers and agents.
Step 1: Work out what you can/cannot buy
I’m not referring to your budget here, but it is more in regards to your purchasing capacity for restricted properties. If you are a local Singaporean, most of this will be a non-issue. As there are no restrictions in the kind of landed property that you can buy.
Under the Residential Property Act, there are restrictions set in place for a foreign person.
A foreign person means any person who is not any of the following:
Singapore limited liability partnership; or
If you are a foreign person, you will not be able to purchase the following properties:
Vacant residential land;
Terrace house; Semi-detached house;
Strata landed house which is not within an approved condominium development under the planning act
Place of worship; and
Worker’s dormitory/service apartments/boarding house (not registered under the provisions of the hotels act)
This is not a hard no. If you are a foreign person, you are still able to purchase a restricted property with the relevant application to the Land Dealings Approval Unit (LDAU) from the Singapore Land Authority (SLA).
A single application (e.g. Husband and wife applying jointly is still considered a sole applicant) will cost you around 1220 SGD per property.
Before applying, you should fulfill these criteria, up to the LDAU’s discretion:
You should be a permanent resident of Singapore for at least five years; and;
You must make an exceptional economic contribution to Singapore. This is assessed taking into consideration factors such as your employment income assessable for tax in Singapore.
Point to note:
It is best to secure approval to purchase of restricted property early, before paying option fees. to prevent any unnecessary delays.
If you are planning to proceed without an application, never under any circumstances, exclude the following clause.
“The sale and purchase herein is subject to the Purchaser obtaining the Land Dealings (Approval) Unit’s approval for the purchase of the said property. PROVIDED always that the Purchaser shall make the necessary application for the approval within fourteen (14) days from the Date of Acceptance of this Option; otherwise, the entire deposit shall be forfeited to the Vendor arising from the refusal. (Applicable only to “foreign person” purchasing restricted property as defined in the Residential Property Act (Cap. 274) and/or the Companies Act (Cap 50).”
This allows you an escape in the case where approval is rejected so that the Sale & Purchase document is made null and void and all monies paid (incl. interest) will be refunded to you. However, you are still required to submit the application within fourteen working days of option acceptance.
Send all enquiries to:
Land Dealings Approval Unit
Singapore Land Authority
55 Newton Road
#12-01 Revenue House
Step 2: Total Budget
You will want to avoid embarrassing moments in regard to the amount of monies to be spent. If you are paying cash, take note of the following payments for real estate:
Price of property
Cash or CPF monies usage?
1st Property loan or 2nd Property loan?
Buyers Stamp Duty/Additional Buyers Stamp Duty (ABSD) (If Applicable)
Sellers Stamp Duty (If Applicable)
The above mentioned is involving solely just real estate matters, since you are interested in looking at rebuilding, it is wise to factor in these costs too. Your construction project varies and it is wise to source for a reliable landed property contractor in Singapore. This is an overview of construction costs includes, but not limited to:
Rebuilding, Reconstruction, Addition, and Alteration works
Land surveyor fees (Topographical Survey, soil test, etc)
Lease extension to SLA (If Applicable)
Submission of planning permission to authorities (i.e. URA)
My previous articles on landed properties describe in great detail on the financial requirement of living in landed property, it should be useful in aiding you in planning out your next step.
Step 3: Rebuilt size
Having a budget in mind helps to narrow down the search. Are you thinking about rebuilding a bungalow on where previously a bungalow was once on? Or are you thinking about rebuilding an apartment stack where a semi-detached home was once on? Having a rough idea on the rebuilt size now will save you the agony of locating a suitable land size to rebuilt landed properties on, but later dismayed by restrictions on legal restrictions (more on this point later).
Point to note:
You might be familiar with the terms “Built-in” and “Built-up”. This are usually marketing terms used by real estate developers or real estate agents in selling the properties.
It generally refers to the same idea, which is the saleable area of a property, which includes voids, balconies, car porches, patio, and swimming pools. The only difference is in regards to its state of completion, completed or not, respectively.
However, the term Gross Floor Area (GFA) should be used instead in terms of rebuilding. This is the only official term recognized by Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) & Building & Construction (BCA).
Also, there might be real estate agents in the market that will promote the calculating of the gross floor area by multiplying plot ratio with the land area. This is incorrect and will most likely give a very vague number in regards to the total GFA. It should not be used in a landed housing area.
Step 4: Master the Master Plan
The Master Plan helps to constantly rejuvenate Singapore as a small city-state, and it strongly relates back to managing land space in the present, to provide a promising future for Singaporeans. A holistic pillars, Sustainability social and environment guides our urban development.
In my opinion, landed residential properties do not contribute much in regards to economic drive, as rarely they are the 1st wave driving Singapore’s economy. Businesses are usually the key drivers of the economy. However, they contribute strongly to the social and environmental pillars.
The social aspects are that it provides Singaporeans a key drive and motivation towards a better standard of living, as private housing is generally perceived to be the new gold standard of affluent living.
The environmental aspects protect the landscape of Singapore, as a city in a garden, this provides a calmer as compared with other megacities that are devoid of greenery.
A combination of these 3 pillars provides long term sustainability in making Singapore a great place to live work and play in, which is URA’s tagline!
You might be wondering; how will this affect you? Take a look at the following image.
The control plan shows areas which are clearly demarcated into landed zones (red areas), this means that even with rebuilding, it means that the land area can only be redeveloped into the same type of housing.
On the left side of the control plan, however, are landed properties which are not protected from the redevelopment. Some plots are significantly larger than their residing ones, which will most likely mean that apartment blocks or condos were redeveloped there.
There are no clearly defining rules on which is a better area to purchase in, as non-protected areas can usually lead to a collective sale. Just do exercise caution and not buy into any property!
A protected area over time however, rewards diminishing supply of landed homes and scarcity with great capital appreciation.
Step 5: Legal Restrictions
The Singapore government understands that having the title of owning a landed property carries a lot of weight, and it is meaningless if these properties fall into haphazard standards, which can potentially lead to price stagnation or devaluation. This results in strict control measures, which is to your long-term benefit.
This is the meat of the article, and will require plenty of concentration! However, I’ll attempt to make it as simple to understand as possible. I’ll first address the parameters for the different housing forms (Development Control Parameters), followed by how much land area you can occupy (landed residential property setbacks), and ending by how high you can build upwards (envelope control guidelines).
Development Control Parameters
Every housing type has its own restrictions, ignore the setback controls for now. This will be explained in the following points.
Minimum Plot Size (M2): The minimal size of the land to classify as that housing type.
Minimum Width (M): How wide the plot of land must be to classify as that housing type. Plot width is considered along the main road which the plot is facing.
Minimum Depth (M): How deep the plot of land must be to classify as that housing type. Plot depth is considered against the main road which the plot is facing.
Point to note:
Be careful when looking for a GCB plot of land as many real estate agents will market big plots of land that are close to 15,000 sqft as one. It is best to get your own surveyor to account for the actual size of the land before having a signed contract.
In addition to fulfilling the land area requirement, GCB land will need to be located within a GCB Housing area, and meet all the requirements as mentioned above.
Landed Residential Property Setbacks
Landed residential property setbacks refer to the metric distance between the end of your purchased land area, to the point where you are able to start building works.
These setbacks have three tiers, Tier 1 which has the highest authority which overrides the following tiers. The following infographic summarises neatly on this.
Tier 3: Typical Setbacks
Typical setbacks are general guidelines in which landed properties in Singapore should follow. Ignore the descriptions of road categories for now. It will be elaborated in detail later.
At a glance, you will have noticed that most of the housing types rely on standard setbacks of 7.4m (Front) and 2.2m (Side and back). The main difference will be for the GCB housing types, where the setbacks from side and back are 3m. Take note of the green buffer, which is a requirement to protect the natural landscape of the landed housing area. This will be counted into the overall road buffer.
Tier 2: Road Categories
Road categories are above in importance to the typical setbacks. Most land will be residing to at most, a minor arterial road. This fits most typical setbacks of 7.5 meters.
Point to note:
Note that this road buffer usually is in relation to the front setback. However, it also applies to the side and back setbacks, which might be less common. Take this into consideration before purchasing a plot of land.
The road categories can be seen from Road Line Plans, and these can be obtained for current valid cadastral lots in either PDF or CAD format at SLA’s Integrated Land Information Service (INLIS) portal.
Tier 1: Street Block Plan
This ranks as the most important tier and overrides tier 2 and 3. Before purchasing any land, have a look at URA Street Block Plans for any updates on road reserves. A good example is shown here with updated lines of road reserves, which might not necessarily be reflected on the ground when surveying.
Point to note:
There are times when the street block plan might have not been enforced on the neighboring properties as these have already been constructed, and some leeway was given. However, for every new rebuilding project these will have to follow the street block plans line of road reserve and rarely will there be a successful appeal.
The potential build-up of your new landed property will be affected due to the location and alignment of the public sewers. To ensure that you will not overlook this matter, you can purchase the Sewerage Information Plan (SIP) here. Should there indeed be a sewer line running below your property, you will need to construct protection of the Public Sewerage system, called an RC trench. This trench construction will be around $20k.
Envelope Control Guidelines
Although houses are allowed to be built higher in the past, this does not mean present-day guidelines are more restrictive. There is a greater degree of flexibility to which houses can be built.
Here are the following changes as from 11 May 2015;
Roofs no longer need to be pitched
Mezzanine floors allowed, no floor-height restrictions but houses must fit envelope (overall) height
12m for two-story houses
15.5m for three-story houses
Protrusions over 1m allowed
This allows for more creative planning in the building façade and also its interior.
Step 6: Costs for Rebuilding
Congratulations! You are almost done with the planning process! There are other technical terms in regard to construction works, but we will address the complete rebuilding for now. Reconstruction and Addition & Alteration (A&A) works will be briefly covered in Step 8.
Rebuilding in the case of this discussion will refer to the redevelopment of the entire plot of land. This means the entire building will be demolished and erected again.
The new building will need to fit the envelope control guidelines, that were mentioned earlier.
Submission by an Architect & Engineer. Fees to the relevant authorities must be made, $3210 to URA, $1,200 to $1,800 to BCA, $1,605 to Nparks and $900 to SCDF (If the redevelopment is above 3 stories and above.)
A Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) and Certificate of Statutory Completion (CSC) are needed.
Based on various consultancy firms, building costs ranges from as low as $240/sqft Construction Floor Area (CFA) (terraced houses rebuilding costs) to $400/sqft CFA (detached houses rebuilding costs).
Take note that this estimate refers to the overall costs of only the structure. Which includes the glasswork, staircase, floor slab/wall construction, windows.
Other costs such as M&E, surface material costs, and Interior Design works will have additional charges.
M&E works will include electrical, plumbing, aircon, and sewer line relocation, which can vary between $70k -$250k.
Surface material costs depend on the type of material used. This can range from affordable homogeneous tiles to marble/timber flooring. Expect to pay around $100k- $250k.
Interior Design works can be thought of to be the most affordable, as it involves heavy carpentry work. This depends on how much you are willing to fork out in terms of obtaining the right look that you want. Expect costs to range around $150-$300k.
The entire duration of the project varies, but most common works will be completed between 14 months, stretching to 26 months for bigger projects.
Point to note:
The costing above strictly relates to the materials and labor supplied for the rebuilding process. The huge variation in price is due to other factors such as the size of CFA, the timeframe of the project, labor supplied, quality of materials, design aspects. All buildings are assumed to have no basements (unless otherwise stated) and are built on flat ground with normal soil conditions. The costs exclude the following:
Authorities’ plan processing charges
Legal cost & disbursements
Demolition of the existing building(s) (unless otherwise stated)
Furniture and fittings (unless otherwise stated)
Prefabricated Prefinished Volumetric Construction (PPVC) / Prefabricated Bathroom Units (PBUs) / Structural steel structure
Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) / Glued Laminated Timber (Glulam)
BCA Green Mark Gold and above
Goods and Services Tax
Step 7 (Optional): General Rules for Subdivision
This step is unnecessary for owner-occupiers, and it will relate more to property investors. If you are thinking of subdividing your plot of land, make sure it fits the requirements of Step 4 and Step 5.
However, here are general rules that must be met to be able to subdivide
Plot Size for housing types, Road line block plan (Step 5)
House must look in place to the surroundings
(E.g. strange combinations like a bungalow-semi-detached-bungalow layout. Looks lopsided and spoils the natural landscape)
Your neighbors will require an upgrade/ benefit from redevelopment
Your neighbors' housing form must not be downgraded
Where previously there’s a shared party wall between your neighbor and you, redevelopment of another party wall causes your neighbors semi-detached home to be a corner terrace. This is not allowed.
Step 8 (Optional): Reconstruction, Addition & Alteration (A&A) Works
In case you are planning for a lower degree of construction works, there is a slight variation of works, but it is roughly the same procedure. The requirements for legal requisitions (i.e. setbacks, building height) remain valid, and to be observed.
The costs that are mentioned below generally refers to smaller builds like terraces, but take note that costs will vary depending on the size of the total buildup. For reconstruction costs of bungalow plots can range up to a $400 psf cfa. These will include top of the line fittings and materials, and jobs of high complexity.
Reconstruction costs (Approx. $230 psf cfa)
Proposed GFA is more than 50% of existing GFA
Increase in number of storeys
Submission by Architect & Professional Engineer
$3,210 to URA
$1,200 to $1,800 to BCA
$1,605 to Nparks
$900 to SCDF (above 3 storeys)
TOP & CSC required
A&A costs (Approx. $200 psf cfa)
Proposed additional GFA is 50% or less of existing GFA
Submission by Professional Engineer
$1,605/- to URA
$700 to $1,200 to BCA depending on area of extension
$1,605 to Nparks
Only CSC required
Step 9: Written Permission and Building Plan
The above steps are the precaution that you can take before proceeding with the purchase of a landed property. This step has recently been added to give you further insight.
A written permission will have to be submitted to URA for the approval of your project. Before application, do ensure that you have the Lot number and MK/TS number of the property. If you are not the legal owner of the property, be sure to obtain express consent from them first.
Next, a building plan will be endorsed by a qualified person (QP) and submitted to BCA.
A QP is a person who is:
Registered as an Architect with the Board of Architects (BOA) or a Professional Engineer with the Professional Engineers Board (PEB)
Has a valid practising certificate issued by the BOA or PEB.
Describing the complete workflow for the Building Plan is complicated and unnecessary to be explained. But in short, the building plan will be reviewed by various technical department for advice and clearance.
For both the written permission and building plan, there are fees involved. It is to the builders' discretion if they will absorb these costs.
Once the building plan is obtained, construction can begin!
Point To Note:
The written permission can be done before the sellers issue an option. If you should decide to purchase an option before submitting the written permission, be aware of the option period as access to your written permission will generally take 15 days. This is longer than the standard option period of 14 days for private properties.
To protect yourself, either negotiate for a longer period and/or include an exit clause should your written permission be rejected.
Thanks for reading my article, this article contains practically everything I know about the total stages to be involved throughout the rebuilding process.
However, choosing the right land in terms of pricing is equally as crucial, to avoid paying an unfair price.
I hope that you will trust me with your landed property transaction and I will show the same level of dedication in marketing your landed property to sales completion!
I'm currently marketing a landed property right now, that I believe is very suitable for rebuilding works!
If you require a qualified builder for your redevelopment, reconstruction, A&A works or landed renovation, do contact me for a referral to partners that I have worked with previously.
Contact me right now at +65 96329840 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to start the process!
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee, or other group or individual. The author does not accept any responsibility whatsoever for any harm or loss arising from accessing or relying on information contained in this blog post.