I’ve got my keys, what now?

You’ve probably landed on this article because you’ve gotten a new house. You’ve finally gotten the keys and now, you’re on your way to building the dream home you’ve always wanted.

However, this is just the beginning of all that needs to be done before you can call your new house home sweet home.

The first and most crucial thing you should do before diving into any renovations or buying furniture is to inspect the house for any defects. Mark them out with post-its or masking tapes, take clear photographs of the defects and get the developer to rectify the issues. For BTO flat owners, you have 7 days after collecting your keys to submit your completed defects form to the Building Service Centre.

1. Doors & Windows

Nobody wants to move into a house and put with up with the daily struggle of opening and shutting the doors and windows. Open and close each door and window to ensure all of them are fully functioning. Inspect the frames to ensure that they are free of rust. You might even want to bring an extendable mirror to check for areas that are out of reach (think of the top of windows and protruding door frames). 

Alternatively, a trusty selfie stick with a front camera on the phone might do the trick as well. If you want to be extra careful, bring a ladder to inspect high areas in close detail. Don’t forget to test if the window locks and the keys to the doors are working properly.

2. Walls
Scrutinise the walls for any cracks and use a spirit level to check for unevenness.

Don’t forget to check for water seepage as well. It’s good if you can conduct your check after a heavy rain so that you may identify any damp ceilings or water seepage through the windows. You do not want to incur extra costs for fixing those nasty issues later.

3. Wall and Floor Tiles
Keep an eye out for any chipped tiles. Besides being unsightly, they can pose as a hazard as you walk around barefooted.

Check for any hollow wall and floor tiles (don’t forget the skirting!) by dropping a marble or lightly knocking on it with a small hammer. Use a spirit level to ensure that the surface of the floor is horizontal.

4. Electrical & Water Supply
Test the daily necessities such as electrical and water supply for any faults as these will really affect your comfort at home.

5. Stairs
If there are stairs in your house, check if the handles are stable and firm. The last thing you want in your own home is to feel unsafe.

For your easy reference, we have prepared a simple defects checklist at the end of this article. So, get ready, gear up and inspect away!

Of course, some homeowners prefer to engage a professional for a more comprehensive defects checking. With their expertise and equipment, they will likely be able to spot the defects that might slip by the eyes of a layman. After all, a few hundred dollars seem to be a worthwhile investment for the comfort and security of a place that you might be staying for a long time.

What’s next after inspecting your house?

Design & Renovations

1. Work with only HDB-approved Interior Designers
Only HDB licensed contractors are allowed to carry out renovations for your HDB flat. Therefore, ensure that you work with only HDB-approved interior design companies to avoid facing any repercussions. They are veterans in this field of work and will provide a strong sense of security as they know the rules and regulations of renovating HDBs.

If you have yet to choose an interior designer who will likely determine how your house will look like for at least the next few years, it’s time to do some research! Talk to at least 2 or 3 interior designers/companies to make a better-informed decision. It is probably unwise to just pick the one with the lowest quote as you might want to compare the design and quality of materials that are used as well.

2. Supervise the Contractors
Keep an eye on the contractors during renovations and check in on their progress on a regular basis. It’s good to hang around in case they have any doubts to clarify to prevent any renovation errors. You don’t want to come home to a wall or cabinet that you weren’t counting on do you?

3. Check before you hack
The HDB has strict rules for any demolition works wall as it may affect the structural stability of the entire building. Therefore, don’t forget to get the written approval from HDB before you knock those walls off! Otherwise, consult your interior designer or contractor as they would know it best.

4. Change the Locks
Once the renovation works is completed, it’s best to change the locks. You never know if the previous owners, realtors or anyone else has the keys to your home. Therefore, ensure that your house is safe, secure, and you’re the only person who has access to it by investing in a new lock or getting a locksmith to change them.

5. Protection & Insurance
It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Insurance exists to “shield” you from adversities and protect all that is precious to you. So why not invest it and prepare yourself in the case of any adversity? Your future self will thank you.



  1. Portable fan (to make your job easier as it can get stuffy)
  2. Hammer/ marbles
  3. Post-its
  4. Writing materials
  5. Clipboard
  6. Copies of your floor plan (for marking out locations of defects)
  7. Mobile phone/camera
  8. Phone charger (in case your phone runs out of juice, and you may also use it to do a simple test for the sockets)
  9. Spirit level
  10. Mirror/selfie stick (for areas that are hard to reach)
  11. Ladder (to access high areas if needed)
  12. Torchlight (to inspect the dark areas)
  13. HDB issued defect form (Snap a photo of the form submitted for your own reference)





Defect location(s)

Can all doors and windows be opened and closed smoothly?

Are there gaps when the windows are closed?

Do the window locks work?

Are the window handles loose?

Any cracks/scratches/chipped areas on the window glass panel?

Any rust on the hinges and frames?

Any cracks/scratches/chipped areas on the doors?

Is the handle/knob of the doors loose?

Do the keys to all the doors work?






 PASSFAILDefect location(s)

Are there any cracks?

Are there any unevenness? Use spirit level to check.

Are there any signs of dampness or water seepage on the ceilings and walls? (May want to check after rain)



 PASSFAILDefect location(s)

Are the floors hollow? Knock on it lightly to check

Are the floors levelled properly?

Any cracks or chips?






Defect location(s)

Are the electrical and water supply functioning properly?

Is the water clean? Fill up a clear drinking glass to check for any foreign particles.




STAIRS (If applicable)




Defect location(s)

Are the handles loose?

Do the stairs have ample space for your footing?




Contact us for a free quote!

Looking to design and renovate your home? Call us @ 6553 3500 and let us make your dream home a reality!
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