Landed House Design Series – Terrace Houses

According to statistics published by the Singapore Department of Statistics in 2017, 5.2% of all residential properties in Singapore are landed houses. In land-scarce Singapore, landed homes have long been perceived as a status symbol.

For families who live in landed properties and would like to maximize their lifestyle, this is the first installation of our Landed Houses Design Series, which focuses on Terrace Houses and the URA planning parameters affecting its design.

We will discuss the other commonly found landed property types in Singapore, such as the semi-detached houses and detached houses, in subsequent articles.

Land Size

There are 2 types of terrace houses in Singapore:

Terrace Houses Type 1

  • Minimum plot size of 150m2, for intermediate units
  • Minimum plot size of 200m2, for corner units

Terrace Houses Type 2

  • Minimum plot size of 80m2, for both intermediate and corner units

The width of a terrace plot may vary but they are not less than 6m wide for the intermediate units and 8m for corner units.

Land Use

The URA Master Plan, which is reviewed every 5 years, sets out the permissible land use and density of the development of land and property in Singapore. Land owners can refer to the Landed Housing Areas Plan, to find out the land use of their property.

Broadly speaking, this plan informs you on the allowable storey height of the terrace house.

Areas highlighted in red are zoned as landed houses, under the URA Landed Housing Areas Plan
Areas highlighted in red are zoned as landed houses, under the URA Landed Housing Areas Plan


Height Control

For terrace houses which are designed to undergo new erection or reconstruction, they will be subject to the new Envelop Control Guidelines for landed houses, introduced by URA in 2015.

For 2-storey and 3-storey terrace houses, they have an overall height of 12m and 15.5m respectively.

In the case of a 3-storey terrace house, if you would like to maximize the built-in floor area, you can choose to have 3 storeys and an attic, within the 15.5m envelope, stipulated by URA.

3-storey landed house with attic



2-storey landed house with attic


Depending on your construction budget and spatial requirements, there are many other design variations within the envelop control possible.

URA DC. Connect: Guiding principles for Envelope Control guidelines describing 3 storey landed houses


To find out more, you can contact us here:


Building Setback

For terrace houses type 1, the building setback is 2m for the side and rear, while the front setback is dependent on the category of road it is fronting.

In order to find out the category of road, you can interpret LTA’s (Land Transport Authority) Road Line Plan.

URA Residential Handbook: Building Setback for terrace houses type 1


For terrace houses type 2, the building setback is 2m for all sides.

URA Residential Handbook: Building Setback for terrace houses type 2


Besides the typical planning parameters, setback requirements can also be subject to the encroachment of other elements on the site. In many cases, there are minor sewers present at the rear of the landed house. Depending on the depth and size of the minor sewer, further setbacks may be required. Alternatively, concrete trenches can also be constructed.


The planning parameters discussed above are to provide for a broad based understanding of the planning parameters. We understand that every site is unique and every Client’s requirements are different.

To find out more, you can contact us here:

What are the costs involved in renovating a commercial space?

In the course of our interior design practice, we notice that new business owners are usually overwhelmed and stressed by the pace of the design and renovation process and the technicalities involved. This article will provide clarity on the associated costs in the context of a commercial space within a retail mall.

By reducing the number of unknowns associated with renovation, you can have more peace of mind to manage the operations of your business. Do note that this article serves as a general guide only as each retail mall may have its specific requirements.

Interior of Style Na hair salon at Parkway Parade
veritas shopfront
3D rendering of Veritas Medical Aesthetics clinic at Capitol Piazza

If you are setting up a new business in a shopping mall, renovation costs usually form a large percentage of the capital required. Besides the cost of renovation works payable to the Main Contractor, there are other miscellaneous costs involved (payable to Landlord, landlord’s appointed consultants, nominated contractors, and your appointed Building Professionals including Architect, M&E and C&S Engineers for submissions), which you should be aware of.

  • ID (Interior Designer) fees
  • Interior Renovation costs
    • Payable to Main Contractor you engage for the works
    • This forms the bulk of the expenses.

Other miscellaneous costs (not exhaustive):

  • Fitting-out deposit
    • The deposit required by the retail mall varies, and is dependent on the area of the premises.
  • Vetting fees by retail mall’s appointed Consultants
    • Architect
    • M&E (Mechanical & Electrical) Engineer, to be advised by appointed Architect if required
    • C&S (Civil & Structural) Engineer, to be advised by appointed Architect if required
  • Sprinkler works
    • Sprinklers are automatic devices installed in the ceilings of buildings, to extinguish fire, when triggered. The number and locations of sprinklers is dependent on the layout and will be advised by the tenant’s Professional Engineer (Mechanical)
    • Depending on the requirements of each retail mall, Landlord may require sprinkler works to be done by in-house sprinkler contractors
  • Sprinklers discharge and recharge fees
  • Temporary Electrical Supply
    • Usually chargeable on a unit rate/ day and is dependent on duration of renovation
  • Temporary Water Supply
    • Usually chargeable on a unit rate/ day and is dependent on duration of renovation
    • Usually required at tail-end of renovation period
  • Endorsement fees by Professional Engineer for electrical supply to premises, including endorsement by LEW (Licensed Electrical Worker) on CS3 form
  • Fees for vetting, endorsement and submission to authorities by tenant’s Architect, C&S Engineer and M&E Engineer
    • Submissions to the relevant authorities would be required depending on scope of works and usage of space
  • Others

The retail fitting-out manuals which are usually provided by the mall upon lease confirmation will contain detailed and specific guidelines. An experienced Interior Designer will be able to guide you on the process and detailed costs involved.

We will be happy to assist you with any queries. Contact us here!

Traditional Procurement VS Design & Build

Ever looked at these beautiful bungalows and wondered how they came to fruition?

Many of our Clients come to us with Pinterest photos and some ideas of how they envision their dream houses to be. Behind the scenes of these beautiful images lies a complicated and technical process of construction – from designing, to bidding, and finally, to building.

There are 2 procurement methods which you can employ to carry out this process:

  • Traditional Procurement
  • Design and Build

This article discusses the characteristics of both procurement methods and highlights its suitability for works.


Traditional Procurement

In a Traditional Procurement, the Client engages an Architect and other Consultants to design. Besides designing to meet user requirements, the team of Consultants are also responsible for quality, cost control, obtaining authorities’ approval and contract administration.



The appointment of a good builder is carried out through a competitive tender process, after detailed design documentation, prepared by the Consultants. The Contractor is not responsible for design and its fitness to purpose. The Contractor’s responsibility lies in completing the works, to the Consultants’ specifications.

For more information on the process of developing a house, refer to our article “Guide to Building a House in Singapore.”


Design and Build

For Design and Build contracts, the Client engages Contractor to undertake both the design and construction aspects of the project.


This method has several implications. Theoretically, this method of engaging one entity promotes more collaboration between the Design professionals and builder and allows for single point responsibility, which is key advantage for home-owners.

However, in reality many Design and Build Contractors are primarily Contractors, and are not proficient in design, therefore compromising on the quality of the proposal and built product. In the Traditional Procurement method, the Architect acts as a third party to ensure that the construction meets the quality and standards as delineated in the signed contracts. In the Design and Build method, the Contractor and Architect belongs under one legal entity and the Owner loses a neutral third party to administer the contract fairly.

This is especially concerning as the home-owners, who tend to have very specific user requirements, end up with less control on design. Often, the end result may not meet the expectations of these home-owners who have spent a considerable amount of money. This is unlike the Traditional Procurement method, where the design is controlled fully by the home-owner and consultants, and is fully known and detailed before Tender.


Although there is more front-end time required for tender documentation by Consultants, the Traditional Procurement method is more suitable for residential houses, where Clients are more likely to have specific user requirements and preferences.

Guide to Building a House in Singapore

In our years of experience, we started to realize that there is very little information online for Singaporean home-owners who want to build their dream homes. Home-owners largely depend on word-of-mouth introductions and online forums which can sometimes be misleading.

With land scarcity, a landed home in Singapore, with its associated construction cost, is usually one of the most important investments one would make and should not be taken lightly.

One of the first questions we usually get is, “How much does it cost to build a house? “There is no straightforward answer to this question, as it really depends on the size, complexity, and expectations of the owner. Someone building a house to sell for profit would have completely different expectations from another who is building it as his/her family’s residence for decades to come.

However, with the assistance of registered Quantity Surveyors, we would be able to provide an estimated construction cost, based on unit rate/ sq ft GFA (Gross Floor Area). GFA is broadly defined by URA (Urban Redevelopment Authority), the planning authority of Singapore, as the total covered floor area measured between the centre line of party walls, including the thickness of external walls but excluding voids.

In order to design and build a house, there are two procurement methods:

  • Traditional Procurement
  • Design and Build

For the differences between these two procurement methods, please see our article “Traditional Procurement VS Design and Build.” For the purpose of this article, we will focus on the Traditional Procurement method.


Which Consultants do you need to engage to build a house?

In a Traditional Procurement method, the Client would need to engage a team of Consultants and a good builder.

This is the team of Consultants required:

  • Architect (Lead Consultant)
    • An Architect designs a building to meet user requirements and complies with local authority requirements. He/ She also advises on the most appropriate form of building contract to be used and administers it.
  • Structural Engineer
    • A Structural Engineer analyses and designs structural components and systems to achieve the design intent, and complies with local authority requirements.
  • Mechanical & Electrical Engineer
    • A Mechanical & Electrical Engineer is responsible for the design of the mechanical and electrical components of services in the building such as elevators, air-conditioning, plumbing, gas and water supply to meet both user requirements and local authority requirements.
  • Quantity Surveyor
    • The Quantity Surveyor is responsible for estimating construction cost, preparing and analyzing costs for tenders and contracts. He/ She also prepares monthly valuation of work done by the builder, for certification by the Architect.

The Architect and other consultants are also responsible for quality, cost control, obtaining authorities’ approval and contract administration.

The appointment of a good builder is carried out through a competitive tender process, after detailed design documentation, prepared by the Consultants. The Contractor’s responsibility lies in completing the works, to the Consultants’ specifications.



The process of developing a house can be broadly categorized in 6 stages:

  • Site Investigation
  • Schematic Design
  • Design Development
  • Tender
  • Construction
  • Completion

1. Site Investigation

Upon appointment of the Consultants, site investigation would need to be carried out:

  • Topography and building survey (for A&A and reconstruction works)
  • Soil Investigation

For A&A and reconstruction works involving buildings which are built before 1991, an asbestos survey would be required. We would recommend that asbestos survey to be completed before the Contractor is engaged, in order to reduce time and uncertainties during the Construction.

Topography survey to establish site conditions: Site Boundary, ground levels, Inspection Chambers, existing drains and sewers


2. Schematic Design

At the onset of the Schematic Design Phase, the Architect would interpret the Client’s brief in terms of spatial, timeline and budgetary requirements, and present a design scheme. The design proposal would consist of proposed floor plans and 3D images, to enable the Client to visualize the space.

3D perspectives
Preliminary floor plans

Upon approval of the design proposal, the Architect would make a submission to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) of Singapore to obtain Provisional Permission (PP).

After receiving the Provisional Permission (PP) from URA, along with its conditions and requirements, the Architect would make a resubmission to Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) of Singapore to obtain Written Permission (WP).  The Architect will also submit the building plans to other authorities such as PUB, NEA, LTA, SCDF and Nparks for necessary clearances.

At this stage, the Architect would also work with the other Consultants (Quantity Surveyor, Structural Engineer, and Mechanical and Electrical Engineer) to prepare a preliminary estimate of the construction costs.

3. Design Development

At the Design Development Phase, the Architect would develop the schematic design to a stage sufficient for the other Consultants to commence their detailed design work.

There would be a lot of coordination work between the Architect and the other Consultants to determine the technical requirements such as sizes of columns, beams and achievable ceiling height.

After obtaining Written Permission (PP), the Architect can then make a submission to Building and Construction Authority (BCA) of Singapore for Building Plans Approval (BP).

Interior perspectives


4. Tender

During the tender documentation phase, the Architect and Consultants would prepare and finalize the Client’s requirements, necessary to obtain competitive quotations for the work. This is an essential stage as the Consultants aim to prepare a building contract which will detail expectations on quality and time of delivery.

The Building Contract documents will form the Contract between the Home-owner and the Contractor:

  • Articles of Contract
  • Conditions of Building Contract
  • Contract Drawings, on which Contractor has based his prices
  • Specifications
  • Schedule of Rates
  • Other Letters of documents, including Invitations to Tender, Tender forms, Letter of Acceptance.

The entire Tender process consists of pre-qualifying a group of suitable tenderers, site show-round, tender clarifications, evaluation, tender interviews, which results in a recommendation by the Architect. The home-owner may choose to participate in the tender interviews.

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

5. Construction

The Contractor is expected to carry out the works in accordance to the Contract in a timely manner.

The Architect will take on the role of a Contract Administrator during the Construction phase. Site meetings and inspections will be held on a regular basis to keep updated on the Contractor’s progress and workmanship.

6. Completion

Upon satisfactory completion of the construction works, the Architect will apply for Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP). With the obtainment of TOP, home-owners can then occupy the building.

The maintenance period will begin after the completion of Construction. It is usually a period of 12 months. During the maintenance period, the Architect will oversee the defects rectification process, before closing of final account.