Have the sizes of HDB flats been reduced over the years?

Are HDB flats today smaller than what they used to be? And have they continued to shrink year by year?

HDB7 mockup

Are HDB flats today smaller than what they used to be? Have they continued to shrink year by year? Some have said that HDB has not been upfront about the shrinking of flat sizes over the years. So what exactly are the facts? 

The short answer is that the typical HDB flat today is indeed smaller in size than what it was 20 or 30 years ago. However, it has remained constant in size for the last 15 years, since 1997. 

HDB builds different flat types and sizes to cater to different needs and aspirations. The design considerations are based on the prevalent social and lifestyle trends, plus the demographic and economic conditions. 

Some of the factors and conditions that are considered include the needs and wants of home owners. After HDB started with basic 1 to 3-room flats in the 1960s, economic and social progress over the years saw an increased demand for bigger flat types. As a result, more 4 and 5-room flats were introduced into the market between 1975 and 1993, while the construction of 1 to 3-room flats was put on hold. The standard 4-room flats were sized between 85 and 105 square metres, while 5-room flats were about 123 square metres. 

However, with Singapore facing increasing land constraints, HDB began to adjust the sizes of its flats downwards, gradually. Nonetheless, the space enjoyed per person was no worse off, and actually increased over time. 

The prevalent 4 and 5-room flats built by HDB have remained constant in size since 1997, at 90 and 110 square metres respectively. And the measurements stated are strictly of the flat’s internal living space, and does not include planter boxes and air-conditioner ledges. 

However, over this period, there were a few exceptions to the norm, where the sizes were slightly larger or smaller than 90 square metres, to meet specific needs and to provide some variety and choice for flat applicants. For example, smaller 4-room replacement flats were built under the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) to provide flat owners the opportunity and ability to upgrade, as the majority of the blocks selected at that time comprised 3-room flats. 

HDB has sought to improve flat designs while not compromising on flat sizes. The designs seek to meet Singaporeans’ desire for quality housing and to allow for better maximisation of available space. For instance, we have incorporated the dining area into the living area to provide a more spacious overall common living area. This has given residents greater flexibility in utilising this space. 

Arising from residents’ feedback, the service yard has also been separated from the kitchen, so laundry can be hung away from the kitchen area, unaffected by cooking fumes. The common toilet was also relocated from inside the kitchen to nearer the bedrooms, for the convenience of children and elderly members of the family. 

Link: HDBSpeaks.sg

This article is accurate as of Sep 2012.

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