Understanding Wall Hacking: Expert Tips and Techniques

Last Updated on June 30, 2023 by Pro Handyman Editorial Team

Renovating your HDB flat presents an opportunity for a transformation. Wall dismantling or ‘wall hacking’ is quite popular among the various alterations you may consider. However, this process involves more than just knocking down walls to expand your space. Here, we delve deeper into the essential elements before you embark on this endeavor.

Understanding Wall Hacking: Essential Factors to Consider

Misconceptions around wall hacking are common. Although it may seem like a simple task of breaking down walls, many aspects must be considered. One needs to understand that not all walls are created equal.

Recognizing Load-Bearing and Non-Load-Bearing Walls

Load Bearing vs. Non-Load Bearing Walls

Distinguishing between load-bearing and non-load-bearing walls is crucial. Load-bearing walls, as their name suggests, bear the weight of the ceiling up to the foundation. These walls are typically aligned on top of each other, providing structural integrity. Any unauthorized dismantling could lead to severe damage to the property.

On the other hand, non-load-bearing walls do not carry any significant weight, making them more suitable for modifications. Nevertheless, any alterations must be approved by HDB and performed by an authorized contractor.

Load Bearing vs. Non-Load Bearing Walls

Particular Case: Bathroom Walls

Bathroom walls are an exception to general hacking rules. In new flats, bathroom walls and floors cannot be hacked for the initial three years. This restriction ensures the waterproofing membrane installed by HDB stabilizes, preventing potential water leakages and subsequent damage.

The Process of Wall Hacking: Steps to Follow

Once you have a clear understanding of the types of walls in your HDB flat and their hacking restrictions, it’s time to delve into the process of wall hacking.

Obtain a Structural Evaluation

Figure 3: HDB Registered Contractor Performing Structural Evaluation

This crucial step involves an extensive structural evaluation conducted by an HDB-registered contractor. This is to ensure the renovation work is in line with the requirements set by HDB, guaranteeing the structural integrity of the building.

Apply for a Renovation Permit

Your HDB-qualified contractor will submit the application for a renovation permit on your behalf. This process usually takes around three days for essential renovation permits and approximately five to ten days for intensive work permits, such as wall hacking. Upon receiving approval, you can proceed with the wall hacking process, adhering to the timeline stipulated by HDB.

Guidelines for Demolition

All renovation works, including wall hacking, must follow HDB’s guidelines. For example, demolition is only allowed on weekdays between 9 AM to 5 PM to minimize noise pollution. Always notify your neighbors about the impending renovation and ensure to close the main door during hacking to minimize noise.

Guidelines for Demolition

Costs Involved in Wall Hacking

Hacking a wall typically ranges from $40 to $60 per foot run, making the overall cost for multiple walls fall somewhere between $2,000 to $5,000. Remember, the actual costs will depend on the extent and complexity of the hacking process.

Erecting a New Wall: The How-To

While wall hacking allows you to open up your space, erecting new walls can help you define and separate areas within your home. These alterations, however, must also follow HDB’s guidelines. A key factor to consider when adding a new wall is the allowance of direct escape routes from bedrooms to the main door for emergencies.

A non-load-bearing wall, famous for creating a workspace in living rooms, can cost between $3.50 to $13/sqft, depending on the size, thickness, and material.

Navigating Wall Hacking in Your HDB Flat

While HDB flats may shrink, innovative ideas like wall hacking can help maximize your space. However, the process is more intricate than just knocking down walls. It’s imperative to consult with your interior designer and contractor to ensure you comply with HDB’s regulations while achieving your dream home layout.

Understanding HD-B’s Guidelines: Combustible and Toxic Materials

In the pursuit of aesthetics, safety must never be compromised. When constructing new walls or partitions, avoiding using explosive or toxic materials such as plywood, plastics, or asbestos is crucial. These materials pose a significant risk to your health and safety. Always consult your contractor and stick to safe, non-toxic materials.

The Impact of Wall Hacking on Natural Lighting

Maximizing Natural Light in HDB

Natural lighting can have a transformative effect on your home, improving mood and boosting productivity. HDB’s guidelines stipulate that alterations should allow sufficient natural light in the flat. Removing walls or incorporating partial walls with glass panels allows sunlight to permeate your home, enhancing the living environment.

Meticulous Attention to Detail

Factoring in Costs: Budgeting for Renovation

Planning and Budgeting for Renovation

Cost considerations play a significant role in renovation planning. Before embarking on any renovation work, preparing a budget based on what you can comfortably afford is crucial. Include all potential expenses, including hacking down walls and erecting new ones.

Completely hacking down a wall may be more cost-effective than removing only a portion. Therefore, if your budget is tight and you want to create more space, consider removing an entire wall.


Wall hacking services can breathe new life into your HDB flat, creating an open, airy environment and a custom layout. However, it’s a process that requires thorough planning, expert guidance, and meticulous execution. Always abide by HDB’s guidelines and engage professional contractors to ensure a successful and safe renovation.