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  • Writer's pictureCaroline Tay


Recently, one of my client was looking to tear down her old semi detached house and rebuild it from scratch.

The most common question one would usually ask is, " How much does it cost to construct a house from scratch?"

The cost of rebuilding a house depends on many factors such as the total gross floor area and how many storeys etc. Adding a basement or attic would certainly add to the overall cost. Some owners would definitely want to have a pool while some would prefer to have a bigger garden.

A swimming pool in a landed house
A swimming pool in a landed house

There is no straightforward answer because it really depends on the expectations and wants of the owner. A developer building a house to sell for profit would have completely different expectations from owners who are building it for their own stay.

This article will focus more on the process of rebuilding rather than the cost of rebuilding.

1. Find the right house

If you already own an old house and is thinking of tearing down that house and rebuilding it totally, then that will save you the trouble of looking for a suitable piece of land. If not, the first step you have to do is to look for an old house.

Since you will be tearing the whole house down, you are essentially buying land. Hence, the older the house, the better as you would probably pay a lower price for an older, not renovated house as compared to a newer and renovated house at the same location.

An old  single storey house
An old single storey house



To rebuild your house, you will need an Architect first and foremost. Choosing an Architect that you can trust and work with is important. The Architect will be the one who is the main designer of your dream home.

“Recognizing the need is the primary condition for design.”  – Charles Eames

He will be the one to incorporate all your requirements and desires for your home into your house and at the same time complying with government regulations and requirements. The architect is the one you should convey all your needs, thoughts and ideas, likes and dislikes to .

Hence, before you decide on one, do look through the candidates' portfolio and projects that they have done so you can choose one that most fits your style.



A Structural Engineer analyses and styles structural components and systems to fulfil the planning requirements while complying with government requirements.

Mechanical engineer

A Mechanical engineer is liable for the planning of the mechanical and electrical components of services within the building like elevators, air-conditioning, plumbing, gas and water system to satisfy both user requirements and government requirements.


The Quantity Surveyor's job is to estimate construction cost, prepare and analyze costs for tenders and contracts. He/ She also prepares monthly report of the construction, for certification by the Architect.

An efficient and capable quantity surveyor is key to a smooth and seamless rebuilding project.

The Architect and the whole team are in charge of quality, cost control, obtaining authorities’ approval and contract administration. The appointment of an honest and reliable contractor is administered through a competitive tender process, after detailed design documentation, prepared by the team.

The Contractor’s responsibility lies in completing the works, to the team's specifications.


Site Investigation

Upon appointment of the team, site investigation would need to be carried out and that would include soil investigation, topography and building survey (for A&A and reconstruction works).

For A&A and reconstruction works involving buildings which are built before 1991, an asbestos survey would be required and it is recommended that asbestos survey to be completed before the Contractor is engaged so as to reduce uncertainty during the development .

Topography survey is needed to determine site conditions: Site Boundary, ground levels, existing drains and sewers etc. Schematic Design

At the start of the Schematic Design Phase, the Architect would interpret all the Client’s requirements and present a design scheme. There will be a planning proposal which contains proposed floor plans and 3D images.

A 3D model
A 3D model

Upon approval of the planning proposal, the Architect would make a submission to the URA of Singapore to get Provisional Permission (PP). After receiving the Provisional Permission (PP) from URA, together with the conditions and requirements, the Architect would make a resubmission to URA to get Written Permission (WP).

A 3D floorpan
A 3D floorpan

It is also the architect's duty to submit the building plans to other authorities like NEA, PUB, LTA and Nparks etc for essential clearances. The Architect would also begin to work with the other "team members" (Quantity Surveyor, Structural Engineer, and Mechanical and Electrical Engineer) to estimate the preliminary development costs.


At this phase, the Architect would develop the schematic design such that it is sufficient for the rest of the team to commence their detailed design work.

There would be tons of coordination work between the Architect and the rest to work out the technical requirements like sizes of beams, columns and achievable ceiling height.

Once Written Permission (PP) is obtained, the Architect would be able to make a submission to Building and Construction Authority of Singapore (BCA) to get the Building Plans Approval (BP).


During the tender documentation phase, the Architect and the team would prepare and finalise the Client’s requirements, necessary to get competitive quotations for the reconstruction of the house.

This is an important stage because the team aims to draft a building contract which can detail expectations on quality, cost and time of delivery. The Building Contract documents will form the Contract between the Home-owner and Contractor:

The purpose of the Tender process is to find the most suitable contractor to build your dream house. The home-owner may also invite suitable parties to participate in the tender of the project.

After the interested parties have submitted their quotations, the owner and his team can discuss on the strengths of each party before awarding the contact to their choice.

Works can officially commence once the chosen Contractor is awarded with the building contract.


The Contractor is supposed to do the works in accordance to the contract within the time stipulated. Usually, the Architect will be the Contract Administrator during the whole redevelopment phase.

Construction of a semi-detached house
Construction of a semi-detached house

There will be weekly site meetings and inspections to keep the owner and whole team updated of the progress. The progress of the whole project and workmanship can be monitored as well.

Completion Upon satisfactory completion of the rebuilding works, the Architect will apply for Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP). Once TOP is obtained, the building can be occupied by the owner. The maintenance period which is usually 12 months, will begin after the completion of Construction. During this 1 year period, it is the responsibility of the Architect to handle the defects rectification process. Once everything is rectified, the account can be closed.

Finally, here are 4 tips to help you before you commence on the journey:

1. Know exactly what you want before you start

Building a house comes with countless decisions—everything from flooring, tiles door hinges, cabinets, paint color, windows, and more. Make as many choices early on. That will help you to estimate the final cost more accurately and also minimise delay of the project!

2. Know what you want to splurge and save on

Decide what you want to spend on. When my friend rebuilt her house, she insisted on top grade marble flooring for her living room. That is something she is prepared to splurge on.

However, she also wisely decided to use homogeneous tiles for the bathrooms instead of marble to bring the overall cost of flooring the house down.

Unless cost is not an issue, have an idea of what to splurge and what to save on!

3. Never make assumptions If clarification is needed, don't be afraid to question your contractor and any subcontractors, regardless of how obvious the solution might seem . After all, you are the owner and your money and future home are at stake! 4. Work together with your partner/ spouse

The rebuilding of a house from scratch is a very stressful and demanding process . All the decision-making, meetings with different subcontractors, delays, and other issues are often overwhelming.

If you are going to do this together with your partner/ spouse/family member, it is important to be supportive of each other and to discuss matters openly.

Decide with your partner who will attend the site meetings and who will do the rest of the tasks. It is also important to share information such that both are equally aware of the situation. Agree to disagree and try to reach a consensus when in dispute over matters!

Rebuilding your dream house can be a daunting and challenging task. However, when all is done properly, you will have a dream home exactly how you want it!

If you are looking for a suitable property to rebuild your dream house and would like to find out more, please feel free to contact me for a non obligatory 90 min free consultation at 96658596

Having a keen interest and passion in real estate led Caroline to join the real estate industry. An investor herself since 2006, Caroline is constantly learning and upgrading herself through courses and seminars so that she is able to provide meaningful insights to her clients and to help them successfully manage and restructure their portfolios in the ever- changing market conditions.

Caroline strives to be honest, transparent and professional in all her real estate dealings with her clients. She understands that clients need to work with someone they trust, as they will be entrusting their valuable assets to that person. She is known to be trustworthy and reliable and will ensure that her clients’ interests are protected always.

With a strong commitment to client satisfaction and with the support of her teammates from Navis Living Group (Orange Tee and Tie) , she is confident that she will be able to share her experiences and knowledge to assist her clients in making the best decisions for their real estate needs so that they can achieve their desired real estate goals.

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