SINGAPORE – Future home owners of a Build-To-Order (BTO) project in Punggol are facing a one-year delay after the Housing Board (HDB) terminated the services of the building contractor this month.

The project, called Waterway Sunrise II, has 1,014 units across seven blocks and features a basement carpark.

The original estimated completion date was the first quarter of next year for Block 653A, and the second quarter of next year for the remaining six blocks.

This means home owners may now get keys to their flats only in the first or second quarter of 2022.

On Thursday (Aug 27), in response to queries from The Straits Times, HDB said the building contractor, Lian Ho Lee Construction, has “not been able to meet project milestones” over the past few months.

HDB said it has been monitoring the progress of works at Waterway Sunrise II.

On July 28, the contractor informed HDB that due to difficulties in continuing with the project, it would have to cease operations on site.

HDB did not specify what these difficulties are. Calls and e-mails from The Straits Times to Lian Ho Lee Construction went unanswered on Thursday.

“As the contractor had failed to perform its duties effectively, we terminated their services to safeguard the interest of flat-buyers. We have commenced the process to quickly bring on board a new contractor to complete the remaining works,” said HDB.

In the meantime, a contractor has been appointed to secure the site and to provide environmental control services such as the prevention of mosquito breeding.

Currently, the housing project is about 45 per cent completed. It was launched in February 2017.

“As a result of the Covid-19 circuit breaker measures, the termination of the building contract and the additional time needed to procure a new contractor, we expect a projected delay by about 12 months,” said HDB.

“We recognise the inconvenience that this brings to our flat buyers and will try our best to minimise the delays.”

Flat buyers will be kept updated on the revised completion date through My HDBPage as construction progresses.

An adjacent BTO project, Waterway Sunrise I, which was launched in November 2016, appears to be further along the construction process, The Straits Times observed during a visit on Thursday. It comprises some 1,200 units.

HDB had previously said that some BTO projects would be delayed by about six to nine months beyond their estimated completion dates due to Covid-19, although it would strive to reduce the delay where possible.

Home owners were informed of the year-long delay via e-mails and letters sent by the HDB on Monday (Aug 24) and seen by The Straits Times.

Home owners, many of whom had expected to move into their new flats next year, took to private group chats on Telegram and Facebook started by residents in the same BTO project to express their frustration.

Accountant Adrian Gan, 27, and his fiancee opted for a four-room flat through the Sale of Balance Flat scheme instead of the BTO scheme in hopes of shortening their waiting period.

One of his concerns is about possible defects in his future home.

“The question is if the quality of the first contractor will be up to par and if the new contractor will be diligent enough to do a proper handover and check through. The rush factor to meet the new deadline might also lead to sub-par works,” said Mr Gan.

Another resident who wanted to be known only as Ms Sukina said she has been renting a bedroom for the past 14 years, shifting as many as five times.

The 55-year-old office attendant, who currently pays $600 in monthly rental, had been looking forward to her two-room flexi flat and was disappointed to hear of the delay.

She said: “It’s not easy to stay in a rented house because not all landlords will let you stay for many years. So when I finally managed to get this BTO flat after many tries, I thought since I’ve waited for so many years, it’s okay to wait for another four years, but now this happens.”

This story was originally published in The Straits Times.