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Old 15-10-2003, 10:44 PM   #61
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Post Govt bridging loans to pay housing instalments available now

Fm CNA, 15 Oct 2003

Singapore : Singaporeans who face difficulty meeting monthly housing instalments because of the recent CPF changes can now apply for short term loans from the Government.

The Central Provident Fund Board on Wednesday announced details of the Government Bridging Loan Scheme (GBL) to provide such loans at a concessionary rate.

The interest charged on the bridging loan is at a concessionary rate of 0.1% above the prevailing CPF interest rate.

The scheme was first announced by the DPM and Minister for Finance Lee Hsien Loong in parliament in August.

The CPF Board said in a press release on Wednesday that the GBL will be available to those who are currently using their CPF savings to service the following types of properties: HDB flats where the loan from HDB or a bank is at the market interest rate; private residential properties, including executive condominiums; HUDC flats; and non-residential properties.

These properties must have been bought before 1 October 2003.

Application forms can be obtained at all CPF offices and on the CPF website.

Members with enquiries can call the CPF Call Centre at 1800-227-1188.

Members can also log on to the CPF website www.cpf.gov.sg for more information. - CNA
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Old 17-10-2003, 10:26 AM   #62
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Poor workmanship possible cause of water seepage at new Sengkang flats: HDB :rolleyes:
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Old 17-10-2003, 11:11 AM   #63
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HDB now to focus on basics

IMHO, I feel with these bad times, more funny incidents happening with GOV sectors...esp HDB projects, upgradings and quality of the houses they are selling...:rolleyes:
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Old 17-10-2003, 09:06 PM   #64
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Poor workmanship possible cause of water seepage at new Sengkang flats

Originally posted by jq75
HDB now to focus on basics
Thanks for "linking" the news here, but i feel it's better to copy & paste the news here as ST remove all their online news after 7 days. it's only accessible for members after 7 days. :rolleyes:

Fm ST, 17 Oct 2003

HDB now to focus on basics

HDB will concentrate on improving construction quality and reducing workmanship defects

By Leong Pik Yin

BUILDING better quality flats which need minimal maintenance will be the Housing Board's new focus.

It will pay more attention to 'the basics' because of complaints about cracks in walls, leaks and shower screens shattering in new estates, which people have blamed on shoddy workmanship.

The board, whose building arm was spun off into a separate company earlier this year, will also concentrate on helping contractors through these difficult times.

It faced a spate of construction delays recently, because some of its contractors went belly up.

The twin missions were highlighted by its chief executive, Mr Niam Chiang Meng, at the HDB's annual report briefing on Wednesday.

He said: 'We need to look at more functional types of flats... which don't have windows dropping or shower screens breaking. Flats that are safe and can last with minimal maintenance over time.'

But, he pointed out, it is 'very tough' to construct homes which are 100 per cent defect-free, especially given the number of flats the HDB builds. Until last year, it built an average of 25,000 a year.

The latest run of defects is not an 'exceptional' problem that has suddenly emerged, 'but we'll work towards eliminating such problems', he said.

Meanwhile, it has already started cutting back on frills, reducing the amount it spends on lift lobbies by about 25 per cent.

Property experts and home buyers interviewed were all for the board's renewed emphasis on fundamentals, saying it was timely and offered more 'assurance' about the quality of public housing.

A group director of real estate firm PropNex, Mr Eric Cheng, noted that the finishes in older flats, where the focus was more on 'quality instead of design', tend to be better.

On the issue of contractors' financial woes, Mr Niam said that the HDB is 'trying to handhold' contractors during this difficult period.

It will settle payments more speedily for work done and allow more time, within 'reasonable' limits, for a job to be finished if the situation calls for it.

'We want to make sure that we deliver our flats and upgrading projects as far as possible on the deadline given,' he said.

In his overview, he also said that the HDB will increase the number of flats it will build during its current financial year.

It intends to put up 6,400 more new flats. In the past financial year, it tendered out a historic low of 787 units.

Currently, the HDB has a stock of 10,300 units which it hopes to clear within one to two years.

Demand for new flats is not expected to change much from the past financial year when it sold 8.3 per cent fewer new flats than the previous year. Resale transactions too were affected, dropping by about 9 per cent. p> About 18,200 new flats were sold in the past year, and it is hoping to sell roughly the same number in the current financial year, but that will depend on the state of the economy.

Considering the bleak economic state so far, Mr Niam said, sales could have been lower if not for the HDB's 'aggressive' marketing efforts which included free electrical appliances for early birds at a recent walk-in selection exercise.

Demand has been promising in its Build-to-Order exercise launched last month, he noted. Sembawang had a subscription rate of 68.5 per cent, but Sengkang was overbooked by almost 300 per cent, while Punggol had a 96 per cent subscription rate. Those who applied for Sengkang and Punggol will get to select their units early next month.
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Old 21-10-2003, 01:39 PM   #65
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Post The Grey Area.

Fm ST, 18 Oct 2003

How did 'barred' firm get HDB job?

SUB-CONTRACTORS who had been working for one of the two construction firms building the delayed Sengkang flats, are alleging that it is linked to a company blacklisted by the Government.

Tong Hup Seng Construction was barred in 2000 from public sector projects until 2005. But it was engaged by the project's contractor, Koru Bena, to be the main sub-contractor to build five blocks of flats along Fernvale Road, they said.

The nine companies also claim that Tong Hup Seng owes them a total of at least $2.5 million.

They have filed a police report and engaged a law firm to write to the Housing Board on the matter, according to a New Paper report.

In the letter - which was also sent to National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan on Monday - the companies asked the HDB why Tong Hup Seng was allowed to do the project. It also pointed out that four people who worked for Koru Bena were also working for Tong Hup Seng.

Replying to queries from The New Paper, the HDB said that it normally requires main contractors to submit their list of sub-contractors for approval. Koru Bena, however, had not sought its approval to engage Tong Hup Seng. The HDB added that it was studying the letter from the sub-contractors.

The HDB terminated the almost $40-million Sengkang contract with Koru Bena last month. A new tender that it called for the remaining work at Fernvale Road closed yesterday. The HDB is now evaluating the bids.

More than 100 sub-contractors, suppliers and construction workers claim Koru Bena owes them a total of $6 million.

Meanwhile, Tong Hup Seng has arranged to meet the sub-contractors on Thursday.

Mr Nelson Sim, the executive director of one of the nine firms, Jason Parquet Specialist, said: 'The HDB has the authority to check whether firms are blacklisted and to make sure the blacklisted ones don't get hired. Why has the firm still managed to work on the project?'
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Old 21-10-2003, 01:44 PM   #66
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Fm ST, 19 Oct 2003

Falling flat

Fewer homebuyers willing to pay a premium for HDB flats in coveted estates

By Leong Pik Yin

MANY flat buyers think that it is all right to pay a premium for an HDB flat in a sought-after estate such as Bishan, believing the price will be more resilient than for flats in less-coveted estates.

But as residents in Bishan have found out, this is not true.

A quick check by real estate agency PropNex found that flat prices in Bishan have dipped more than those in Ang Mo Kio, an adjacent town with older flats.

In 1996, five-room units in Bishan had an average valuation of $508,200. This dropped 22.4 per cent to $394,300 in the second quarter of this year. In Ang Mo Kio, prices fell by 20.9 per cent.

The drop in valuation means that Bishan flats no longer command additional cash payments of $70,000 to $100,000 that were common in 1996, when the property market was at its peak.

At that time, the cash payments were needed to make up the difference between the valuation price of the flat and the actual selling price.

The skyhigh prices in Bishan were unrealistic and this accounted for the bigger drop when the economic climate weakened, said the chief executive officer of PropNex, Mr Mohamed Ismail.

Today, buyers will think twice about paying anything above valuation for a five-room flat, be it in Bishan or Ang Mo Kio.

He said: 'In good times, many were willing to pay ridiculously high premiums for sought-after estates. The value of these flats was hyped up and many people saw them as goldmines.

'But in poor market conditions, it's a different story. Consumers are more rational.'

Take Ms Janice Tan, 29, an engineer who has been scouting around for a flat in Bishan with her fiance. She said they may now 'think twice' about setting up home there.

'We like Bishan because of its location. The town layout is nice and spacious and the flats are quite new. But they are a bit more expensive and we wouldn't want to end up making a loss eventually.'

Marine Parade, which is a short walk from the beach at East Coast Park, also used to command extra cash payments of about $100,000 - three times more than Bedok ($30,000), a mere five-minute drive away.

While HDB valuation prices of five-room flats in Marine Parade held up better than those in Bedok, buyers are now unwilling to pay any cash upfront for units in Marine Parade.

But some coveted estates have proved to be more price resilient, such as Queenstown. The prices of the five-room flats there have suffered only a 5.1 per cent drop since 1996. But prices in nearby Clementi have fallen by 17.5 per cent.

Why is Queenstown, which is Singapore's oldest HDB estate, bucking the trend? Mr Ismail thinks it is because the estate has the best of the new and old.

The mature estate has many amenities, which makes it attractive to buyers. At the same time, new flats have been built to replace the very old ones, giving the estate a new lease of life.

Flat prices are influenced by many factors, said Mr Ismail. Some towns 'lose their lustre' when newer estates spring up. Yishun, for example, suffered a 30 per cent price plunge, the biggest among all HDB estates, because it was 'overtaken' by Woodlands and Sembawang - nearby towns that are newer with better facilities.

The president of ERA Realty, Mr Jack Chua, said there will be buyers who are prepared to pay a premium for some flats.

'They may still make the purchase because it is near a certain school, near their parents' home or their workplace.'

It all boils down to what the homebuyer wants.

Mr J Menon, a 31-year-old sales manager, for instance, is keen on buying a four-room flat in Marine Parade even though it may be at least $60,000 more than a similar sized unit in Bedok.

He said: 'My wife and I love going to the beach so it would be great to live just across it.

'While Bedok is more convenient because of its MRT station and bus interchange, it has a more congested feel. I'd rather have a home with a sea view.'
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Old 21-10-2003, 01:53 PM   #67
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more turning to banks loan.

Fm TODAY, Friday • October 17, 2003

$4.5b boon for banks

26,000 HDB dwellers turned to banks for mortgages

by Derrick A Paulo

SINCE the Housing and Development Board (HDB) home loan market was commercialised on Jan 1, banks here have captured possibly almost $4.5 billion on the dotted line.

As of Sept 30, more than 26,000 HDB dwellers have turned to the banks for mortgages. Of these, about 17,000 were resale flat applications while 1,000 were transactions for new flats. There were also more than 8,000 re-financing cases.

Based on an average of $200,000 per transaction and half that amount for re-financing loans, this would amount to $4.41 billion worth of business for the banks.

It exceeds last year's $3.2 billion HDB market-rate loan pie.

Yet, it is still only the tip of the total $63 billion HDB loan iceberg. The HDB was unable to say how many residents who applied for bank loans also qualified for concessionary rate loans.

But its chairman, Mr Niam Chiang Meng, revealed that the housing board had sold 18,200 flats in its latest financial year, which ended March 31. This is an eight per cent drop from last year, reflecting the bleak economic outlook.

Still, Mr Niam, described the figure as a "good outcome", as the HDB has managed to whittle down its surplus of flats from about 17,500 to 10,300 as of Aug 31.

He was speaking to reporters at the release of HDB's annual report on Wednesday.

The statutory board also saw a five per cent rise in operating income, due mainly to higher interest as well as a reversal of losses from the sale of flats. It made $118 million in profits on the sale of flats.

Asked about housing prices, Mr Niam assured that the average HDB home loan accounted for between 18 and 19 per cent of household income — within the affordability benchmark of 40 per cent that Minister of National Development Mah Bow Tan had cited in Parliament a few months ago.

"Housing prices have fallen, but not as much as the resale flat price index, because of the HDB's role of trying to stabilise the market.

"Just as when prices go up and HDB acts to serve as a stabiliser, so we try to drop prices a little more gradually," said Mr Tay Kim Poh, the HDB's deputy CEO and chief estate administration and property officer.

The HDB, whose role in Singapore has acquired a social dimension beyond just building apartments, also reported a more than 50 per cent rise in the number of households it has extended financial assistance measures to in its latest fiscal year.

More than 25,000 HDB mortgagors have asked the HDB for help compared to 16,475 in the previous year.

Over 58 per cent of these residents have converted their loans to a reduced repayment scheme while another 36 per cent have asked for deferments on their loans.
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Old 21-10-2003, 02:02 PM   #68
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Fm CNA, 14 Oct 2003

Some residents at newly completed Sengkang flats face water seepage

By : Johnson Choo, Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE: Sengkang flats have been in the spotlight recently but for all the wrong reasons.

First, construction at several blocks was delayed, then there was an invasion of cockroaches at several other blocks, and now there's water seeping into several flats at a newly completed block at Compassvale.

A 5-room Sengkang flat which is is barely two months old, but its floor has already had to be repaired by HDB contractors twice.

The problem - there's water leaking into the ground floor unit.

The joints, where the walls meet the floor have been re-sealed with water proof material, and the outside walls were hacked open and re-sealed with water-proof material.

Yet less than a week after the latest repairs, water is still slowly seeping through the floor.

Wang Xingwei, affected flat owner said: "Water keeps seeping through the floor in my master-bedroom. My contractor had intended to complete renovation by the end of this month, but now he's having a headache, especially with the parquet floor."

Because of this water seepage, the family has held back delivery of many of the household items they bought earlier.

But this isn't the only unit affected - next door watermarks had appeared on the ceiling, even though the unit above is not occupied.

Another affected flat owner, Weng Zhuping said: "I've complained a couple of times, and the contractor only came to paint over it. Now one week later, the watermark has returned."

And on this 9th floor unit, water is seeping through the wall tiles.

HDB contractors have had to remove them and add more cement to replace the tiles, but they admit it may not solve the problem.

It is believed around 10 units in Block 207C Compassvale are facing similar problems.

HDB has ordered its contractors to fix these leaks, although it won't say if they are the result of shoddy workmanship. - CNA

Fm TODAY, Friday • October 17, 2003

'Even a scratch is a defect'

SHOWER screens shattering, construction delays and water leakage at Sengkang. These problems have kept HDB busy and residents complaining.

On Wednesday, HDB chairman Niam Chiang Meng admitted that some of the problems could stem from poor workmanship.

But he said residents cannot expect 100 per cent defect-free flats. "To me, even a scratch is a defect. But we are still trying to eliminate that."

He suggested the problems may seem bigger than they were as more residents are going to the media with their grouses.

Moving forward, he said that HDB will focus on "sustainable flats" by going "back to the basics" — an approach espoused by incoming HDB chairman Dr Aline Wong. — Derrick A Paulo

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Old 21-10-2003, 02:04 PM   #69
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Fm TODAY, Weekend • October 18, 2003

Sengkang flats fiasco

HDB flats in Sengkang are in the limelight again. Nine subcontractors involved in an HDB project there allege that Tong Hup Seng Construction, a company blacklisted by the HDB, got in through the back door and took over the project as the main subcontractor.

At the heart of the controversy are some uncompleted blocks at Fernvale Road. Without approval from the HDB, the main contractor, Koru Bena, farmed out the work to Tong Hup Seng, which hired subcontractors.

In a letter to the HDB, nine subcontractors alleged that Tong Hup Seng failed to pay them some $2.5 million collectively after terminating their services. The project's main contractor and main subcontractor are also linked, as Tong Hup Seng's managing director, Mr Goh Poh Que, signed checks for Koru Bena as well as Tong Hup Seng, they said.

The HDB said it had terminated Koru Bena's services as it was not able to complete the project according to schedule.

HDB has reopened the project for tender and is evaluating the bids. — Channel NewsAsia
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Old 21-10-2003, 02:10 PM   #70
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Fm CNA, 16 Oct 2003

HDB sold 18,200 new flats in past year but backlog of more than 10,000 units

By : Derek Cher, Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE: Despite the downturn, Singaporeans are still buying up a significant number of new Housing Board flats.

In fact, 18,200 new flats were sold in the past year -- only about 8 percent lower than the year before.

And the Housing Board expects to sell another 18,000 new flats in the year ahead.

Meanwhile, some 26,000 flat owners took up bank loans for purchases and refinancing from January to September this year.

And the number of those who convert their loans to reduced repayment schemes almost doubled to nearly 15,000.

HDB sold over 18,000 new flats in the past 12 months, under various schemes like the popular Walk-In Selection and Build-To-Order programmes.

But it still has a backlog of more than 10,000 units.

The board estimates it will take another two years to clear this surplus.

Said HDB CEO, Niam Chiang Meng: "We've been trying our best to market our flats to clear our stocks. So we've been fairly aggressive in the way we've been going out to clear stocks. But having said that, much depends on the economic outlook. At this point of time, it is still fairly flat."

The poor economic environment has already dragged many contractors under.

Some HDB contractors were forced to call it a day, resulting in project delays.

Many who are still surviving are faced with cash flow problems and a shrinking market.

So the board is taking steps to avoid having more of its contractors go bust.

HDB is also trying to handhold its contractors through this difficult period. It says it will speed up its payment process to within 1 to 2 weeks. It will also offer contractors further time extensions.

"We select the contractor who is best able to complete the contract, deliver the contract on time. But if the contractor is in problems due to a lack of business, the whole pie has grown smaller, then it is very difficult for HDB alone to do anything," said Mr Niam.

HDB incurred a deficit of $506 million from its normal operations in the last financial year -- that's $473 million lower than the previous year.

The board attributes the continued deficit to fewer flats sold. - CNA
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Old 21-10-2003, 02:12 PM   #71
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Fm CNA, 16 Oct 2003

Poor workmanship possible cause of water seepage at new Sengkang flats: HDB

By : Derek Cher, Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE : The Housing Board (HDB) has admitted the water seepage affecting several Sengkang flats could be due to poor workmanship by its contractors.

But the board has defended itself, saying such defects are inevitable given the number of flats being built.

Some Sengkang residents have had to cope with water seeping through the walls and even the floor since they moved into their new HDB flats recently.

In fact, even after HDB contractors carried out repairs, the seepage persisted.

But HDB says such cases are to be expected, as 20,000 flats are built each year. So there are bound to be some with defects.

In fact, the board went as far as to admit that it is almost impossible for its flats to be totally defect-free.

"So you may have 2, 3 complaints that come up, seepage and so on. That's possible because it's extremely difficult, if not impossible, to have a 100 per cent defect-free flat. The important thing is, every time we have a problem, we solve it quickly," said HDB CEO Niam Chiang Meng.

So far, the board has received 2 complaints from residents living at Compassvale Block 207C.

Repairs at the first unit are complete, but HDB has yet to inspect the other unit.

"Of course there is still an issue of workmanship. Many a times, it's not easy to track. To completely eliminate the workmanship problem is very hard," said Mr Niam.

Despite these two complaints, HDB says it has no plans to inspect all the other units in the affected block. - CNA
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Old 21-10-2003, 02:15 PM   #72
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Fm CNA, 17 Oct 2003

HDB offers new 5-room, executive flats in Punggol and Sengkang

By : S. Ramesh, Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE : Homebuyers looking for a new five-room or executive HDB flat have 1,543 of them to choose from in Punggol and Sengkang new towns.

HDB is offering these flats for sale under its Walk-in Selection Scheme beginning on Monday.

There is also a roadshow at the Compass Point Shopping Mall till the end of the month where flat buyers can get more information.

HDB said it would issue queue numbers on a first-come-first-serve basis beginning on Friday. - CNA
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Old 21-10-2003, 02:18 PM   #73
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Post Re: The Grey Area.

Fm CNA, 17 Oct 2003

Subcontractors allege barred contractor gets through back door

By : Teo Chia Leen, Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE: HDB flats in Sengkang are in the limelight again.

This time, nine subcontractors involved in an HDB project there, alleged that a company blacklisted by the HDB got through the back door, and took over the project as the main subcontractor.

They also claimed that Tong Hup Seng Construction owes them at least $2.5 million.

At the heart of the controversy are some uncompleted blocks at Fernvale Road.

The main contractor of this project was Koru Bena. It farmed out the work to Tong Hup Seng, a company that has been barred by the HDB from its projects.

Tong Hup Seng hired subcontractors to work on the project.

And now, nine subcontractors alleged that Tong Hup Seng failed to pay them after terminating their services.

In their letter to HDB, they also alleged that the project's main contractor and main subcontractor are linked, as Tong Hup Seng's managing director, Mr Goh Poh Que, signed checks for Koru Bena as well as Tong Hup Seng.

HDB said it had terminated Koru Bena's services as it was not able to complete the project according to schedule.

The Housing Board also said Kora Bena did not seek HDB's approval to hire Tong Hup Seng as a subcontractor.

Meanwhile, HDB has reopened the project for tender and is evaluating the bids. -CNA
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Old 23-10-2003, 09:21 AM   #74
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I hope hdb re-evaluate their tendering system.
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Old 24-10-2003, 10:10 AM   #75
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Re: Poor workmanship possible cause of water seepage at new Sengkang flats

Fm ST, 23 Oct 2003

Contractors should be held liable for defects longer

I READ with interest the article, 'Now to focus on basics' (ST, Oct 17), and I agree with Housing Board chief executive Niam Chiang Meng on the need for better quality flats.

My wife and I have lived in our Woodlands flat for just over a year. A week before the article appeared, we chatted with our neighbours about how lucky we were not to have picked a flat in Sengkang, where leaks have appeared in some units.

Ironically, half of the tiles in my living and dining area popped up the very next day, damaging some wooden fixtures.

The HDB encouraged us not to make a claim for the damage to the fixtures in our initial claim assessment, as the legal tussle with the HDB's main contractor would delay the floor repair - a delay we could ill afford as my wife is in her eighth month of pregnancy.

To avoid future problems with home defects, I went to two major general insurers but was told that there was no insurance home owners could buy to cover damage to furniture and fittings due to shoddy workmanship.

I was told that such insurance would be taken up by the contractors themselves.

I urge the HDB to make main contractors take insurance that extends the damage liability to up to three years as some defects do not surface in the first year, the period in which main contractors are obliged to fix them.


Fm ST, 30 Oct 2003

Longer defects warranty may mean higher prices

I REFER to the letter, 'Contractors should be held liable for defects longer' (ST, Oct 22), by Mr Mak Kin Yip.

All new flats sold by the Housing Board come with a one-year defects liability period (DLP). Under the lease, HDB will attend to inherent flat defects reported within the year. This is in line with industry practice.

After one year, lessees are responsible for all repairs in their flats.

However, HDB has been providing assistance wherever possible. It will investigate and advise lessees on rectifications. Should the lessees encounter difficulty in finding a contractor, HDB will assist them by providing a list of contractors they could engage on a private basis.

Mr Mak suggested extending the DLP from one to three years. While this may mean that lessees have a longer period in which to claim repairs from the building contractor, it may also result in higher prices all round because of the higher insurance premiums that the contractors would have to pay.

HDB will continue to maintain good quality control in the construction of its flats. We will also continue to assist flat owners making rectifications. Flat owners can call our toll-free Branch Office Service Line (1800-8663030) if they need assistance.

We thank Mr Mak for his feedback.

Senior Public Relations Officer
for Director (Corporate Development)
Housing & Development Board

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