SINGAPORE – Retail sales assistant Joyce Loh and her husband were supposed to get the keys to their new Build-To-Order (BTO) flat in Bukit Batok last month but will now have to wait till the start of next year.
Their block in West Plains @ Bukit Batok is one of several in BTO projects facing a longer delay of up to nine months, in a revision of an earlier estimation of six months, the Housing Board (HDB) told The Straits Times on Wednesday (July 15).
“Just a few months ago, my husband and I were quite excited and discussing when we can move in this year. We have already shopped for furniture and put down a deposit at an interior design company, but now our hopes are crushed,” said Ms Loh of the extended delay.
The 29-year-old and her husband have been living apart in their respective family homes since their wedding in October 2018.
In May, the HDB had said that the completion of some BTO projects was expected to be delayed by up to six months due to the halt in construction works during the two-month circuit breaker period which started on April 7.
Even though construction works have resumed gradually since June 2, when the circuit breaker measures eased, companies have had to adhere to strict safe management measure at worksites amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
On Wednesday, the HDB told ST that while the delay is still up to six months for most projects, there are some blocks in a few projects where the delay could be longer, by up to nine months.
It did not specify how many projects are facing a nine-month delay or the number of units affected.
“The delay is due to various reasons, such as the disruption in supply of precast components and materials from overseas, availability of manpower, and ability of contractors to meet the safety prerequisites by the authorities for works to restart,” it said in a statement.
As at July 2, the HDB said 64 BTO sites, out of the ongoing 89 sites, have been approved by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) to resume works.
In its statement, the HDB gave updates on three BTO projects – all of which were supposed to be completed in the second quarter of this year.
At West Plains @ Bukit Batok, four out of the nine blocks have been completed. About 65 per cent of home owners in the completed blocks have collected their keys and the rest will do so between this month and October.
The remaining five blocks are delayed by up to nine months and are expected to be progressively completed by the first quarter of 2021, barring unforeseen circumstances, said the HDB.
Another project facing a nine-month delay is SkyParc @ Dawson, which has three blocks. It was built as one of the replacement projects for residents in Tanglin Halt Road and Commonwealth Drive picked for the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers).
The HDB did not specify how many blocks are completed and how many are delayed for this BTO project.
At Northshore Residences I in Punggol, all five blocks have been fully completed and about 50 per cent of home owners have collected their keys and the rest will do so between this month and October.
At the adjacent Northshore Residences II, two of the seven blocks have been completed.
Around 20 per cent of home owners in the completed blocks have collected their keys. The remaining five blocks are expected to be progressively completed by the end of this year.
“HDB is doing its best to prioritise projects that have been delayed and to ensure we comply with the necessary safe restart requirements to resume works as soon as possible. We will also continue to look for ways to reduce the length of delays,” the HDB said.
It added that flat buyers will be kept updated on the completion date of their BTO project through letters and via their My HDBPage account, as construction progresses.
In the meantime, those who are unable to find alternative housing with relatives or on the open market are advised to contact the HDB for assistance through the e-feedback form or calling the branch service line at 1800-2255432.
Home owners, many of whom had expected to move into their new homes this year, took to private group chats on Telegram and Facebook started by residents in the same BTO project to express their disappointment.
Guest service agent Hamad Gadaffi, 35, told ST he extended his rental lease for a one-bedroom condominium twice – first for a year and the second time, for two months – before the landlord gave the ultimatum to move out last month.
Thankfully, he said, his in-laws offered a spare room to house his family of four for the time being. Their four-room BTO flat in Northshore Residences II will be his family’s first home.
“My kids have been asking when they can get their own rooms but I can only tell them to wait,” said Mr Hamad, who has two children aged six and four.
“Funny thing is some people in the other blocks have already moved in and are living there but we’re still stuck with a six-month delay.”
Senior engineer Jonathan Lim, 31, and his wife had their wedding this March, and were expecting to collect their keys at the end of May.
The couple, who is expecting their first child this December, said their main concern is whether they would be able to move into their five-room flat in Northshore Residences II before their baby is born.
“I think for a lot of us, the issue was the anticipation and excitement of getting our new homes. But with the coronavirus and the lack of updates during the circuit breaker period, you can’t help but wonder what is the main delay, especially when the flats look ready,” said Mr Lim.
Next month, the HDB will offer about 7,800 BTO flats in total in Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, Choa Chu Kang, Geylang, Pasir Ris, Tampines, Tengah and Woodlands.
A further 5,700 flats in Bishan, Sembawang, Tampines, Tengah and Toa Payoh will be launched in November.
This article was originally published in The Straits Times.