What is a Shophouse?

Shophouses are a collection of heritage buildings in Singapore that are reminiscent of the colonial era.
March 30, 2021

Shophouses are a collection of heritage buildings in Singapore that are reminiscent of the colonial era. These colorful architectural marvels are admired for their colorful exteriors and historically rich interiors. They are usually built two- to three-storeys high in contiguous blocks and with common party walls. Part of what draws locals and tourists to shophouses in Singapore is their apparent connection to the past while containing design elements that are very much in the present.

Originally constructed between the 1840s and the 1960s, a shophouse was largely built during the 19th and 20th century. Today, it is considered to be a historical site that provides locals and tourists with a firsthand look at Southeast Asia's architecture between the two previous centuries. Many shophouses are also prevalent in other parts and regions of the world, with a good number of Latin American countries and even the Caribbean Islands being a host to these nostalgic structures.

Related Article: Other Types of Landed Properties in Singapore

In this article, we’re going to discuss the different features of a traditional Singaporean shophouse, its best qualities, and renovation ideas that you can turn to when revamping a shophouse.

How Many Shophouses are there in Singapore?

According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), there are 6,500-7,000 conserved shophouses in Singapore as of 2018.

Related Article: Conservation Houses in Singapore

What Are The Features of a Shophouse Property?

  1. Distinctive and architecturally unique - A shophouse in Singapore has a lot of distinctive features that make it unique as an architectural piece. Its structure is commonly two to three or more storeys in height, complete with a relatively narrow and long length. A shophouse can also be used for different purposes and settings, with commercial enterprise being a fairly common use for the property type’s bottom floors. This ranges from mini shops, restaurants and all the way to a mini-manufacturing facilities. The upper floor area of the property is usually used as a residential place while some upper floor areas also function as a full commercial space.
  1. Great cultural and historical significance - Shophouses carry a significant weight of historical and cultural significance thanks in part to its colorful and time-honored past. Due to the importance placed on these properties by the government and the people, they are usually regarded with higher renovation standards and even great market value.
  1. It increases in property value - Because shophouses are considered as unique pieces of architecture in the country, it can also prove to be a lucrative asset in the real estate market. Like with anything that is regarded as prestigious and historically significant, shophouses are known to increase in value as years go by.
  1. It gives commercial spaces their own presence and identity - While shophouses are similar in structure, they couldn’t be any more different when it comes to their identities. Because of this, shophouses give businesses the chance to accurately reflect the philosophy and character of their shops, based on the colors and design elements that adorn one.
  1. They are located at the heart of thriving business centers - Shophouses are commonly located in different central districts that make them an ideal place to start a business in. Some of these are located along Katong, in the middle of a bustling food paradise, and even the Holland Village area, which is known for its access to nightlife, retail and dining. Other shophouses are also located in places like Boat Quay, which is at the heart of Singapore. So if you happen to stumble upon a shophouse as you explore Singapore, chances are you will find yourself in the middle of a dynamic commercial neighborhood.

Can a Foreigner Buy a Shophouse in Singapore?

Foreigners are not allowed to purchase a private Shophouse property in the country unless approved by the Singapore Land Authority. However, when it comes to HDB shophouses, foreigners are considered as eligible candidates for buying and reselling.

Who Can Buy an HDB Shophouse?

Both permanent residents and foreigners are allowed to acquire HDB Shophouses. Non-individual entities such as Private Limited Companies are also considered eligible to purchase this property type.

Can You Use CPF to Buy a Shophouse?

For an essential purchase such as a residential property, residents can use their Central Provident Fund or CPF to fund a Shophouse acquisition. Commercial purchases of the property, on the other hand, are considered ineligible for this funding option.

What Are The Best Renovation Ideas for Shophouse Properties?

  1. Early Shophouse - Shophouses that are highly monochrome in appearance and form are called early shophouses. This design is notable for incorporating a select number of colors that complement the main structure of the property. A common example of this shophouse building style can be found along Erskine Road.
  1. Transitional - Shophouses with transition design are more connected to the past as seen in the Chinese hand-painted ceramic or porcelain pieces that adorn its exteriors. These shophouses are prevalent on Neil Road by the Baba House, Singapore’s most famous Peranakan dwelling.
  1. Modern Shophouse - For a more contemporary take on the classic Singaporean shophouses, this design incorporates aesthetic and functional considerations such as air vents, concrete on walls and even steel for the windows. Coming after the art deco style, the roofs for these design style are flat, a departure from the earlier versions of the property type. You can usually find modern shophouses along the Jalan Besar area. 

How Much Does a Shophouse Cost?

The average price of freehold shophouses can usually go from S$3,427 per land area. However, if you already have one and are planning to rebuild, expect to shell out about S$1million to 1.5 million for the planning and cost. This price point is usually for high-scale upgrades of the property type.

Improve Your Property with ColeBuild

Looking to rebuild or renovate your property? We at ColeBuild can help you make the whole process easier by creating a customized plan and price package so you can plan and build better. We offer qualified construction and building renovation services for different types of landed residences in Singapore. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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