Saturday, 11 July 2015

The woes of DBSS residents

Because HDB went flat out?
After it has happened so many times, you have to ask: What the hell is going on?

The latest DBSS fiasco to hit the Internet is Pasir Ris One, located beside the neighbourhood’s White Sands shopping mall. Residents are complaining that the common corridor – exactly 1.2m-wide – is too narrow, even if it is built to fire safety standards. Owners who picked up their keys over the last two months have formed a private Facebook group to discuss the issue. So far, more than 200 home-owners – about half of the 447 units available – have signed up. Members are required to present a letter or any official document that proves ownership in order join the group.

Residents who spoke to TMG complained about several building defects, including uneven ceilings and exposed pipes. The size of the flat and its rooms appear to have caught several by surprise, although the developer had stuck to the specified dimensions. The chief complaint was the dark and narrow corridors, which is “shocking, too small and with a ceiling that is worse than a factory and a car park”, as Ms Jynny Chew, 50, a soon-be-resident in Block 530C said.

Commissioned by the G, DBSS flats are designed and built by private developers. They typically come with better fittings and finishings than standard Build-to-Order flats, though unlike Executive Condominiums, these projects do not have facilities such as pools and gyms.

An open gate shows how much walking space is left in the corridors of Pasir Ris One after a resident opens their doors

Pasir Ris One's narrow corridors meet guidelines
QUESTION OF SPACE: A worker walks along the common corridor of an apartment block at the DBSS project. The corridors are 1.2m wide; SCDF guidelines state that there must be a clear passage of at least 1.2m along corridors.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

THE narrow corridors of premium Housing Board project Pasir Ris One are making some residents feel squeezed. The 1.2m-wide corridors of the Design, Build and Sell Scheme development are technically within regulations. Yet they put a crimp on everyday life, said residents such as Shaun Chew, 51.

"My neighbour and I cannot even open our doors at the same time," said the supervisor, who lives in a five-room flat on the ground floor.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force's (SCDF's) guidelines state that there must be a clear passage of at least 1.2m along corridors.

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BTO flats under HDB's jurisdiction, DBSS ones aren't
The DBSS project Pasir Ris One, which recently drew complaints about the poor workmanship and corridors that are 1.2m wide, the minimum allowed by the Singapore Civil Defence Force.

THE Ministry of National Development on Monday made clear the distinctions between build-to-order (BTO) flats and Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) flats.

While HDB is responsible for rectifying defects in BTO flats, flaws in DBSS projects are handled by their respective private developers. That said, HDB does help DBSS developers to resolve matters, even though the housing agency is not involved in the sales agreement.

This explanation was given in response to concerns voiced in parliament about defects and the poor quality of new flats; most recently, buyers of units in the DBSS project Pasir Ris One had complained about the poor workmanship and too-narrow corridors.

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DBSS not a “failure”: Desmond Lee

Minister of State for National Development, Desmond Lee, told Parliament on Monday that the Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) is not “a failure”, despite the recent spate of complaints from home buyers.

Mr Lee was responding to questions from six Members of Parliament (MP) who queried his ministry on various issues regarding the flats under the DBSS and the Build-To-Order (BTO) schemes.

In recent months, complaints have surfaced from homeowners at the Trivelis in Clementi, Centrale 8 in Tampines and Pasir Ris One DBSS flats. These ranged from leaking pipes to uneven tiles, from poorly-installed windows to cracks on walls.

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HDB urged to do more following defects in DBSS, BTO projects

The role of the Housing and Development Board (HDB) in resolving disputes on defects in Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) projects came under scrutiny in Parliament today (July 13), with Members of Parliament (MP) seeking clarification on the powers the HDB could exercise, and questioning if the authority could do more. 

This comes after some DBSS projects, which are built by private developers and marketed at premium prices for better design and finishes, recently made headlines following complaints from residents about the state of their homes, such as Trivelis in Clementi, Centrale 8 in Tampines and Pasir Ris One.

In response to questions about the number of complaints about both DBSS and Build-to-Order (BTO) flats, Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee said that an average of one-third of all new residents approach the Building Service Centre (BSC) for assistance with defects in BTO flats after collecting their keys.

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Building defects have economic, social impact

Narrow corridors, leaking pipes and spontaneously shattering glass panels are but a few of the many defects that Singapore home owners have to contend with ("Corridors of discontent at Pasir Ris One", June 25; "Gripes over finishes, fittings in DBSS flats at Centrale 8", June 13; and "Shattered shower screens, rusty lift door...", May 15).

These defects affecting Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) developments are a serious safety issue, and one which many Singaporeans have a vested interest in.

The Building and Construction Authority is the body tasked with ensuring high safety standards in our built environment.

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Furious Homeowner: My Premium DBSS Flat Resembles… a Prison?
Netizens have taken to Facebook to show their disappointment at a HDB DBSS flat development in Pasir Ris, Pasir Ris One

First off, some have attacked the dull design of the flat corridors, saying that it they resemble the corridors in prison compounds.

Netizen Goh Guan Leong says that when the gates of two apartment units across from each other are opened at the same time, they almost brush each other.

He added that despite being called a “master bedroom”, the bedroom can cannot fit a king-size bed.

10 reasons your life’s much better because you stay in the latest DBSS housing project in Pasir Ris

A new DBSS project called Pasir Ris One is getting all the brickbats despite its minimalistic, back-to-basics design (read: built like rental flats) and progressive initiatives (read: overhead gas vents and malleable grills). The naysayers seem to be missing out on one thing: its acronym. It’s PRO for a reason, you know.

Tuesday evening saw National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan telling the media that there are “more positives than negatives” if more Singaporeans can be given the opportunity of staying in HDB towns. Because, as we all know, living in high-rise apartments is “part and parcel of a Singaporean way of life”. 

Like Minister Khaw, let’s look on the bright side of life, as we show you 10 wonderful things you’ll gain by living at Pasir Ris One.

Pasir Ris ONE DBSS – yet another development under fire
When TOC measured the corridor of one block, it was precisely 1.2m wide.This is believed to be the minimum required by HDB and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) safety rules

In what is becoming a recurring series of incidents, another group of homeowners of new flats are crying foul at the shoddy workmanship and design of their homes.

The Online Citizen (TOC) understands that some of the owners of the new Pasir Ris ONE have just received their keys to their new homes which are located at the junction of Pasir Ris Central and Pasir Ris Drive 1, a stone’s throw away from the Pasir Ris MRT station. The 447-unit development is one under the Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS), and consists of three-, four- and five-room flats.

Such problems in new developments have been reported  by new owners of other DBSS flats at the Trivelis in Clementi and Centrale 8 in Tampines in the last two months, along with several other groups of owners of build-to-order flats, such as in Punggol and Bukit Panjang, in the last few years.

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A DBSS ceiling which Khaw Boon Wan might want to explain

As The Online Citizen (TOC) reported on Sunday, the Minister of National Development will be questioned about the poor quality of recent flats, especially those under the Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS), and also those under the Build-To-Order (BTO) programme. (See here.)

The minister in charge, Khaw Boon Wan, has said little about the many complaints which homeowners have raised so far.

Besides the by now infamously narrow corridors at Pasir Ris ONE, for example, buyers were also unhappy over an entire slew of defects found in their flats – including leaking pipes, badly located water heaters, hollow tiles in their bathroom walls, scratched tiles, tiles with different shades of colours, windows which are nor properly installed, and so on.

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Pasir Ris One DBSS is an expensive pigeon cage
No room for in master bedroom for a king size bed. Corridors narrower than a HDB rental housing that neighbouring doors almost touches each other when swing open

Prices for Pasir Ris One Design, Build, Sell Scheme (DBSS) are also not cheap:
  • 3 room flats – S$390,000 to S$470,000
  • 4 room flats – S$550,000 to S$670,000
  • 5 room flats – S$650,000 to S$770,000
Like other DBSS projects, Pasir Ris One DBSS is also facing a list of defects according to complaints made on its Facebook page. Unfortunately, although DBSS projects are administered by HDB, the government statutory board are hands off over housing defects found, saying that these should be worked out by the private developers who constructed the flats. The HDB only mandate by law giving DBSS owners a one year defect liability period, after which all defects found will be solely borne by the homeowners.

In comparison to the cheaper HDB Build-to-Order (BTO) flats, the quality of DBSS flats are substandard in terms of workmanship and design. Some DBSS defects are even as serious as flooding in corridor and shattered bathroom glass, while design flaws are usually space constraints like having the door on the wrong side of the room.

The Singapore Government has since suspended the constructions of DBSS flats in 2011.

Furious Homeowner: My Premium DBSS Flat Resembles… a Prison?
Netizens have taken to Facebook to show their disappointment at a HDB DBSS flat development in Pasir Ris, Pasir Ris One

First off, some have attacked the dull design of the flat corridors, saying that it they resemble the corridors in prison compounds.

Netizen Goh Guan Leong says that when the gates of two apartment units across from each other are opened at the same time, they almost brush each other.

He added that despite being called a “master bedroom”, the bedroom can cannot fit a king-size bed.

read more

Shattering Glass Doors, Flooding Complaints at New Trivelis DBSS Flat

About 500 residents of the new Trivelis HDB flats have formed a committee to address the issues of poor quality in their homes.

Most shockingly, shower glass panels prone to shattering, and narrow common corridors prone to flooding. Other problems include “kitchen cabinet dimensions that do not allow for a standard-sized oven to be fitted, pole-system wardrobes that lack shelves, defective stove knobs, stain-prone kitchen countertops and rusty dish racks”

The residents also complain that exposed sanitary pipes and water heaters in the actual flats were not  depicted in the show-flats.

DBSS flat owners at Trivelis may get goodwill package following slew of complaints
Complaints from residents included (clockwise from above left) a rusty lift door, water pooling along a corridor, a wardrobe without shelves and a shattered shower screen. PHOTOS: ST READER

Residents of the Trivelis development in Clementi may get a goodwill package after complaining about problems with their new premium flats.

Their Member of Parliament Sim Ann told over 200 residents at a townhall meeting last night at the Trivelis pavilion that the developer has agreed to look into giving a package, though she did not have details of what it includes.

The 888-unit Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) project is developed by local firm EL Development (ELD).

500 new DBSS flat buyers upset over poor quality of flats @ Trivelis

In the latest incident of defects in public housing flats, owners of the new Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) flats in Clementi are up in arms over the poor quality of their new homes.

Some 500 residents of the 800-unit Trivelis development in the area had to contend with shattered shower glass panels and narrow common corridors that are prone to flooding after they received their keys to the new flats in January. Some have described their experience as a “total disappointment”.

DBSS units are supposed to be of a higher design quality than a regular public housing unit.

500 residents complain against Trivelis DBSS
Several Trivelis residents have also taken their complains online

A premium Design, Build, Sell Scheme (DBSS) flat development at Clementi is facing complaints by as much as 500 buyers. Trivelis DBSS is a 888-unit, three 40-storey condominium located at Clementi Avenue 4 with 3-room flats going at $470,000 and 4-room flats going at $650,000.

DBSS flats are supposed to come with superior finishing and designs over their cheaper Built-to-Order counterparts.

However the end product is a slew of construction mess. A reader of Trivelis DBSS has shared his pictures with the media:

related: Trivelis Developer ELD won’t compensate, offers “goodwill package” instead

Gripes over finishes, fittings in DBSS flats at Centrale 8
Centrale 8 resident Michelle Lim said water seeped into the wall and flooring of her bedroom after a water pipe in her bathroom burst. But only a part of the flooring was replaced and the wall was merely repainted.PHOTO: MICHELLE LIM

A group of residents of Centrale 8 in Tampines are upset about the quality of the finishes and fittings in their premium flats and hope to get the developer to extend the warranty period for defects.

At least 30 residents of the Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) project told The Straits Times that they hope the developer, Sim Lian Group, can extend the one-year period for which the developer is required to rectify any defect in the units. Some also want compensation in cash.

The Tampines Central development has 708 three- to five-room flats which are being sold from $389,000 to $778,000. Nearly all the units have been sold.

Another group of new homeowners complain about defects in flats @ Centrale 8
Screenshot: Centrale 8 website

“Each generation of BTO flats improves on the previous generation,” Khaw Boon Wan, Minister of National Development (MND) said in May. That would be little comfort to an increasing number of new flat owners, including residents of Centrale 8, a DBSS development in Tampines.

In the latest incident of defects in flats, at least 30 residents there are complaining of bad workmanship, including faulty toilet and balcony locks, and water pipes bursting.

The Straits Times reports that the residents are asking for the developer, Sim Lian Group, to extend its one-year warranty for the flats while some want compensation in cash.

The Peak residents see red over defects
More than 200 residents attended a dialogue with their MP, Mr Hri Kumar Nair, to complain about flat defects and the condition of common areas. -- PHOTOS: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

Barely six months after getting the keys to their new homes, several residents of The Peak in Toa Payoh are complaining about defects.

They raised their concerns over the quality, workmanship and cleanliness of their 1,203-unit Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) project with Member of Parliament for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC Hri Kumar Nair yesterday. Top of their list of woes were defects due to the quality of materials used and the workmanship of flooring and doors in the flats.

Residents' committee chairman Victor Chow told The Sunday Times that about 20 to 30 per cent of flat owners have raised concerns over defects.

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HDB maisonette bucks price trend, selling for record $1.05m

An HDB maisonette in Bishan sold for a record-breaking $1.05million last month, despite declining resale prices overall.

The price for the property was $250,000 over its valuation, easily trumping the median cash- over-valuation (COV) across the island of just $5,000. The 150 sq m unit is on the 20th floor in a block near Bishan MRT. Its prime location and status as a rare maisonette contributed to its record price, said Dennis Wee Realty property agent Thomas Hee, who brokered the deal. The new owners, a "young professional couple", declined to be interviewed.

It was the fourth HDB property to sell for at least $1 million last year. The others were another Bishan Street 13 maisonette, which went for $1.01 million, a $1 million Toh Yi Drive maisonette, and a rare corner terrace house in Whampoa that fetched $1.02 million. The terrace house is one of just 285 "landed" public homes built by HDB's predecessor, the Singapore Improvement Trust.

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The woes of DBSS residents