New Housing Board flats will come with finishings such as (clockwise from left) thumb-turn knobs on gates, a streamlined design for the door and window ensemble between the kitchen and service yard, and bathrooms with a wide range of modern designs.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

New Housing Board flats will now come with condominium-like finishings at a fraction of the cost.

These sleeker and more modern fittings – such as larger tiles and concealed floor traps – will be installed in new Build-To-Order (BTO) projects launched since February.

The new flats will incur marginally higher costs that the HDB will absorb without affecting home pricing, a spokesman said.

Mr Jansen Foo, deputy director of the HDB's Building Quality Group, said the net increase in cost is minimal as the HDB has been able to achieve economies of scale. As such, it is able to absorb the cost.

The HDB has adopted several practices akin to those at private condos in recent years, such as pushing structural walls and beams to the side to encourage open-plan layouts, as well as open-concept kitchens.

"This year, we took this one step further to improve the range of fittings provided in our new flats for a sleeker look. The HDB is constantly improving the design of our flats to suit the changing needs of our residents," said Mr Foo.

The new fittings include a scratch-resistant laminated timber main door with better finishing, which replaces the timber-veneer doors in older flats.

Steel entrance gates in more modern designs will replace the wrought iron gates in many flats.

These new gates will also feature "thumb-turn knobs" instead of traditional key inserts, which lets residents open their gates from inside without a key, enabling them to leave their flats quickly in an emergency.

Instead of more breakable ceramic tiles, glazed porcelain ones will be used in kitchens and bathrooms as they are more resistant to wear and tear.

Kitchens and bathrooms will also have larger floor tiles, which the HDB said would allow for "better visual continuity" from the kitchen to the living area, and also make cleaning easier.

Bathrooms will also boast better-looking fittings – like toilets and taps – that use water more efficiently. Floor traps will no longer have a plastic cover, but blend in with the tiles on the floor.

Concealed floor traps will replace plastic floor traps in bathrooms, giving bathrooms a more sophisticated finish. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Ramps leading to a bathroom will be replaced with a 2cm drop, giving flats a more contemporary look and layout, while remaining accessible to people in wheelchairs.

This change was made in response to feedback from residents, who said that the ramps let water seep out of the bathrooms when residents cleaned them.

In the kitchen, owners will get windows that match the door leading to their service yard. Instead of louvred vent windows, they will get top-hung ones, which are more durable and easier to clean.

Future home owners said they are pleased with the upgraded fittings.

Top-hung windows will replace the traditional louvred vent windows, making windows more durable and easier to clean. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

"The new windows will provide better privacy. They also make homes more aesthetically pleasing," said Mr Ari Haikal Subtu, 24, a first-time flat buyer whose home will be among the first few to get the new fittings.

Undergraduate Melanie Heng, 24, who bought her BTO flat in February, said: "It's a welcome change to have a more modern and chic look."

She added: "I'm happy to see that floor tiles will be more resistant to wear and tear as they need to withstand the test of time. As home buyers, we naturally prefer something more long-lasting."

Mr Kenyon Tan, 25, a first-time flat buyer who is self-employed, said the new fittings in HDB flats will help new owners spend less time and money sprucing up their homes.

"The main concern when buying a house is money, especially for young people. I hope the new improvements in HDB flats will not lead to a price increase (in the future)," said Mr Tan.

Written by Rosalind Ang and Rachel Au-Yong for The Straits Times.