500 new DBSS flat buyers upset over poor quality of flats

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Trivelis

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.

According to local news reports, a group of the residents there has formed a committee to address the problems with the developer, EL Development (ELD).

The 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”, and exposed sanitary pipes and water heaters which were not depicted in the showflats.

In its circular to residents, the committee said, “When the committee met (the managing director’s) representatives on April 12, (they said) ELD’s position remained that ELD’s designs and building works are cleared by the relevant authorities and (they) meet all minimum (requirements). It is, therefore, not obligated to entertain our requests for redress.”

It is reported that the committee, however, will be organising a meeting this Friday to update the residents on the matter.

Invitations have also been sent to the Housing and Development Board and the Ministry of National Development to attend the meeting, along with the ELD as well.

However, according to a TODAY report, the developer has declined to attend the meeting.

“We all know that (at) dialogue sessions … people can get emotional and heated up,” TODAY reported an ELD spokesman as having said. “If any of the residents have strong opinions about these things, they are always free to email or call us, and we will address them individually.”

ELD said it was looking into some of the complaints and addressing them. However, it added that there may be some defects or problems which they may not be able to rectify, such as the sanitary pipes that were depicted in the showflats to be placed at the air-conditioning ledge outside of the unit but were not so in the actual flat itself.

The complaints at the Trivelis development is not unusual. In the last few years, there have also been similar incidents in new BTO developments.

In July last year, some homeowners of Tampines GreenLeaf were so infuriated by the defects in their new flats that they took to social media to highlight the flaws found at six of the nine blocks.

The defects included rust stains, uneven tiles and chipped walls.

"I was shocked at the number of defects. I felt very upset and short-changed," a resident told the media then.

At about the same period, there were also complaints from new Anchorvale Horizon residents in Sengkang of shoddy work in their new flats. (See here.)

In January 2013, some residents of The Peak in Toa Payoh raised concerns over the quality, workmanship and cleanliness of their 1,203-unit Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) project.

“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,” the Sunday Times reported.

In 2013, in response to a parliamentary question on the issue, the Ministry of National Development said, “Among the 19,100 BTO flats completed in the last two years, there were about 13,900 reported defects. This averaged less than one reported defect per dwelling unit.”

It added: “At every BTO development, HDB sets up a Building Service Centre (BSC) to promptly attend to residents’ feedback. HDB also regularly reviews its work processes and the building materials used to improve the quality of its flats.”

  • GUSSIE91

    You see………..the top Singapore civil service has failed to perform well.
    It was reported that Singapore control world banks Standard Chartered has lost more and more money trying to sell the losing business Hog Kong pension business.

    Heads must roll, no excuses.

  • Hari Somakantan

    What a load of crap…..It’s the same thing with our flat, a new BTO at yishun Natura, so many defects were there and they don’t address the issues properly because they delibrately chose inferior quality finishing and the floor tiles are horrible to begin with.

    A lot of things need to be addressed!

    • GUSSIE91

      another Singapore civil servants severe scandals………..?
      Our leaders have promised there would be zero corruption in Singapore.

  • PikuChoo

    The common areas (stairs and corridors) have, like everything else these days, shrunk. I wonder how the residents ever manage to get their furniture and appliances into their homes.

    If the kitchen cabinet dimensions do not allow standard size ovens to be fitted in, the residents are screwed. The developer has to correct the defect for the entire development. No wonder they have decided to stay away.

    It remains to be seen if the ministry of national development is going to wash its hands off the matter and use MAS’s “escape clause”: Caveat emptor.

    Well, we can already count at least 500 family’s votes less for the PAP in the coming GE. And that is not counting that poor family who literally had shit splattered all over their new home.

  • liangjwc

    Cleared and accepted by relevant authorities?
    Whoever accepted the works should be back on site for re-inspection and discussions with residents.
    But I am very sure they will hide.
    Else they are only sleeping on the job or …….need CPIB to come in?

    • PikuChoo

      CPIB won’t do anything unless the minister directs them and the minister will not direct them unless it benefits them in their game of political power. Otherwise, I should think quite a few officers in MOM would be under investigation given the number of cases of workers being unfairly treated.

      Besides, the minister in question here is Khaw Boon Wan, you know, Mr “I’m Okay with it”.

      • RAW

        Seriously if you really want to see any action, get KBW to answer the present CONQUAS audit scores for TRIVELIS, The [email protected] Payoh & Tampines Green Leaf. Also get the same audit officers from BCA to conduct a new audit under his supervision. Then share the results with us in Parliament or his MND KBW blog.

        • liangjwc

          Who to get KBW to answer in Parliament?
          All MPs only ask “good questions”……including those from WP.
          Not a single MP for the people….

          • RAW

            “L I K E” ;))

      • RAW

        To be fair the splattered all over the place part cannot solely blame on shoddy building works. Let me share a story. Mr Affected stays at Low Level & all his neighbors’ contractors or maids throw stuff into floor trap. The accumulation of trash causes the pipes to burst. Have you seen floor brushes taken out of pipes? Is tat HDB fault? I don’t think so. Point fingers at ourselves or maids or renovation contractors. Must take the right ownership of blame when it is rightly due.

    • RAW

      Who is responsible? See my post on Trivelis’ CONQUAS scores.

      • liangjwc

        So if 25% of units score above 80% and the rest can be much less than 80% is okay?
        No wonder so many defects.
        Maybe the developer “also know in advance with coffee money” which units would be inspected….

        • RAW

          Hold your horses. They have to tell us who paid them to perform the audit. We do not want to jump the gun & anyhow fire. Anyway for an audit which cost a few thousand $, the IC officer won’t dare take tat sort of $ or risk losing any chance of ever getting a public sector job. It’s more likely a couple of factors which is to meet department KPI or afraid of marking down A1 grade contractors/developers and/or etc.

          Question is Did HDB or ELD pay for the CONQUAS audit? HDB pay then no room to kelong but if it’s ELD…

          Since we r on this question, perhaps a public service inquiry is needed.

          Was the officer led to the perfected units by ELD or was the officer given freedom to randomly picked the sampled units to audit?

          Did the audit officer at any one point help or alerted ELD by releasing news about which units they plan on auditing?

          If they were to conduct the same audit now, based on the same items & criteria, will TRIVELIS obtain similar scores?

          Doesn’t it arouse our interest? Do the same for the Peak & Tampines Green Leaf so that they won’t say it’s just an isolated case. 😉

          Can MND/ BCA answer please?

          • liangjwc

            I am not from the construction sector and I don’t know who inspect work in progress for flats or completed flats.
            Never heard of CONQUAS till now and don’t know their actual function.
            But what is the role of HDB when talking over of flats from developers? They do not have their own audit or inspection?
            If yes, why such defects in new premium flats are till so common after all these years….?
            When I took over my premium flat nearly 15 years ago, I was very disappointed with the uneven and “hollow” floor tiles.
            I made appointment with HDB for inspection.
            HDB staff came with their contractor’s Manager.
            When I opened the door and they saw all the markings on the floors, they didn’t even say anything else other than to inform me they will replace my floor tiles…ended up more than 50% of all the floor tiles were replaced.

          • RAW

            Back then NO CONQUAS in place 😉 Well u dealt w HDB n they did wat u asked right? Fair n good. These days residents Hv to deal w developers instead. It’s obvious they farm out tat painful n costly bit isnt it? Plus after completion, the estate is handed over to town council. Building structure, asset & allocation is under them but all else isn’t 😉 perfect approach from their POV.

          • liangjwc

            The point is before completion and during hand over between HDB and contractor/developer, what is the procedure?
            The CONQUAS is already part of this procedure?
            In manufacturing, something like going through QC checks?
            No? Then HDB deserve to be screwed…..

          • RAW

            Testing & commissioning major items e.g. Lifts, Water supply & discharge system, electrical distribution system, structure integrity of building, etc. individual units (888) the officer will inspect but don’t expect very detailed inspection. In any case if there r any problems w individual units can be dealt with under the 12 months Defect Liability Period. Some problems can only b detected after residents move it. Some problems like uneven tiles occurred after 1st year of stay bcos of soil settlement (heavy high rise building sit on the small piece of land).

            That give rise to a point. Legislation should mandate DLP be 2yrs. Our $600 HP gives 1 yr warranty vs $400-600K HDB only 1 yr? Most problems occur after the 365th day.

            Not enough of home owners raise this point to MND who oversees HDB & BCA.

          • liangjwc

            I don’t agree that uneven tiles occurred after 1st year of stay because of soil settlement.
            On the other hand should soil settlement be considered and solved even before construction starts?
            I agree some home owners don’t raise defects with HDB due to ignorance.
            During my time, I went to check on other neighbours in my block and I noticed many units having similar floor defects.
            I told them about my floor being re-tiled and I still remember one neighbour answering me with “can ah”.

          • RAW

            Yes agree but within DLP that can be fixed by developer/ HDB (as in current DBSS arrangement) but after DLP they charge. If B4 handover u can only hope that CONQUAS or HDB inspectors will pick it up. Else I m not aware there is a better system in place.

            Btw soil settlement is address b4 Construction when the pile up large concrete block to simulate actual building dead weight n during construction dead weight adds up to allow further soil settlement but after the 18 mths of construction soil settlement carries on n seismic ground activity is ongoing every single day. So my take is longer DLP from developers.

            HDB has to do something about it for sure.

          • RAW

            U kw wat I prefer to deal w HDB on defects rather than cunning n lawyer protected loaded developers. ;(

          • RAW

            In the manufacturing process supplier guarantees quality like in all other products & during WP will help you replace defective parts. HDB provides general specs Developer/ contractor follow…simple n straight forward. If u r referring to the thick tampered glass shower screens, they are not easy to QC. Due to so many complaints, I’m guessing next time all HDB projects no more glass shower screens. We the residents pestered them to have this feature looks modern n premium.

    • GUSSIE91

      oh my………..
      You have suspected dirty feed back corruption in Singapore?

      • liangjwc

        Who tells you there is no corruption in Singapore?

  • RAW

    This article has helped raised public awareness where the developer/ builders are playing with the system. But the real focus should be on the authorities who have approved this project.

    As a follow-up on this article, I have raised the following questions. We all know the developer claimed no fault on their part & they are right.

    Ask deeper questions & search for more answers please.

    Q1. Did the residents direct their queries to the correct party or did we miss out something?

    A1. Yes, ELD did the bare minimum as approved and checked by both HDB and BCA before issuing TOP. So naturally they will explore the next course of action which is Defect Liability Period i.e. rectify minor issues like cracks and faults whilst causing some distress & inconvenience to unit owners.

    Q2. What did we miss out then? Are you aware there is a mechanism in place against shoddy workmanship? To simply put it, we are supposed to have a last line of defence.

    A2. You probably didn’t know that Trivelis DBSS project was audited under BCA’s CONQUAS system before TOP.

    Q3. What is CONQUAS?

    A3. According to BCA, it is a “serves as a standard assessment system on the quality of building projects. A de-facto national yardstick for the industry”

    Here is the CONQUAS Manual – http://www.bca.gov.sg/Professionals/IQUAS/others/CONQUAS8.pdf

    Q4. How did BCA, as a gate-keeper, score Trivelis under CONQUAS?

    A4. Structure works – 96%,
    Mechanical & Electrical works – 92.5% and Architecture works – 81.2% Overall score = 87.1

    That is a very high overall score for a project with so many problems.

    Here is the CONQUAS score for Trivelis -http://www.corenet.gov.sg/homeowners/listsql/default.asp?category=REJTUw==

    Q5. What does the CONQUAS score mean? – This is from BCA’s CONQUAS FAQ – a good question indeed! I like.

    A5. According to BCA – “A high CONQUAS score means a building with good quality workmanship. A CONQUAS score of 80 means 80% of the items checked for workmanship quality met the CONQUAS standards. A building that achieves a higher CONQUAS score is better constructed, in terms of workmanship quality, than a building with a lower CONQUAS score.”

    Simply meant that Trivellis (at 87.1%) is better than many projects who didn’t meet their standards.

    But what about the 12.9% of items that didn’t meet their scoring criterion? Are they require to rectify? If there are no subsequent follow-ups & checks then it renders CONQUAS to be less effective.

    Q6. Does CONQUAS check all the units in a residential building project? – also from BCA ‘s FAQ

    According to BCA, “CONQUAS scoring is based on a sampling approach. On average, one in every four units is assessed”.

    This gets very interesting – more questions.
    Does it mean that 25% of 888 units were assessed? But how many unit owners were affected by shoddy workmanship? How come BCA standards vs. owners expectations = mismatched? Is it because Owners expectations are too high or BCA audit standards are too low?

    Q7. Did CONQUAS fail the public?
    A7. Only BCA can answer the residents of Trivelis and also residents of Singapore.

    This is not an isolated incident. There are others reported in the news but this affected more unit owners compared to others. If there are short comings or omission in CONQUAS i.e. what CONQUAS doesn’t do then it’s time they tighten. Being the authorities they will usually state that what its system doesn’t do as excuses for not guarding construction or building quality.

    Perhaps we should start asking BCA about their roles in the project and the CONQUAS scores. They shoulder some responsibilities too.

  • RAW

    Let’s look at CONQUAS scores from BCA’s construction quality Audit on Trevelis, The Peak & Tampines Green Leaf.

    Our last line of defense against shoddy workmanship has failed us.