Most expected to move into BTO flats within 4-5 years, despite Covid-19 delays: Desmond Lee

Some projects, especially those with taller blocks, will take longer to be completed.

Jason Fan | October 06, 2021, 10:14 PM

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The waiting times for Build-to-Order (BTO) flats built by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) have remained under six years, according to Minister for National Development Desmond Lee.

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday (Oct. 5), Lee said the average waiting time for ongoing BTO projects, including delays brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, has remained between four to five years, and that the government has introduced support and assistance measures to help keep the pandemic-induced delays to ongoing BTO projects to a year or less.

This is excluding one particular project, which had already faced project difficulties unrelated to the pandemic, said Lee.

Most flat buyers to move into flats within four to five years

According to Lee, the estimated waiting times for BTO projects launched in 2020 and 2021 range from three to 5.5 years.

He brought up the example of Hougang Citrine, which was launched in August 2021, and is expected to be completed in three years.

On the other hand, Queen's Arc, which was also launched in August 2021, is expected to take longer, at about 5.5 years.

"There are a few projects like Queen's Arc, where the waiting times are longer. This is because the conditions of the site are difficult, and construction will take longer, or these are projects with very high storey heights, very tall blocks, which require more construction time," said Lee.

He said that while such projects may have caused some people to believe that all new BTOs will take six to seven years for completion, these projects are in fact in the minority.

Lee said barring further unexpected developments, most flat buyers can expect to move into their flats within four to five years after booking their flats.

New contractors to take over Greatearth

Lee also addressed the recent news on the insolvency of Greatearth, a contractor that recently faced financial problems.

He said Greatearth's insolvency may have added to the anxieties of home buyers waiting for their flats to be completed, and that some members of the public are concerned whether this puts the completion of their homes at risk.

In order to minimise the impact on home buyers, Lee said HDB has brought new contractors on board within a month, in order to take over Greatearth's affected projects.

However, there will still be a further two to three months delay to affected projects, although Lee said they are working closely with the new contractors to bring the project back on track.

HDB to help secure interim accommodation

While the Covid-19 pandemic has caused delay to many construction projects, Lee said HDB has already taken a number of steps to support affected homebuyers.

For example, HDB has helped some flat buyers secure interim accommodation, and will be increasing the supply of flats under the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS) by 800 units over the next two years.

For low-income households with no family support and no other housing options, HDB will consider offering Interim Rental Housing (IRH) on a case-by-case basis.

Flat buyers who face delays that exceed their Delivery Possession Date (DPD) will be compensated by HDB at the amount and for the period as set out in the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, which applies to all developers.

For those who choose to cancel their BTO flats due to delays, HDB will consider waiving flat booking forfeitures and the one-year wait-out period, based on the flat buyers' circumstances.

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Top image via HDB.