“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 residents moved into their homes last June.
Tampines Central development has 708 three- to five-room flats which are tagged at $389,000 to $778,000.
Residents, therefore, were upset when defects started to show up in their flats.
The Straits Times reports one such case:
Risk consultant Michelle Lim, 35, who paid $750,000 for her five-room flat, said a water pipe in her bathroom burst last December, causing water to seep into her bedroom flooring and wall.
Part of the flooring was replaced and the wall was merely repainted, she said. "The flooring in the room has two different colour tones now but the developer told me it's out of its control. I'm disappointed because we paid so much for the flat. Why should this happen in the first place?"
The developer, however, is sticking to its guns and refusing to extend the warranty or provide monetary compensation to the affected residents.
It told the Straits Times that there is "no basis" to extend the defect liability period or provide financial compensation as it has complied with the sale and purchase agreement.
A spokesman for the developer was reported to have said: "Unit owners must understand that each flat unit is not perfect... Sim Lian Group will ensure that all defects rectified in accordance to the (agreement) will meet reasonable industry standards."
The Housing and Development Board (HDB), in the meantime, says it has been aware of the issues at Centrale 8 since July last year and has “asked Sim Lian Group to address the feedback.”
Incidentally, also in July last year, another group of new homeowners in Tampines were also complaining about similar issues with their Tampines Greenleaf build-to-order (BTO) development.
The HDB revealed then that defects have been reported for about 30 percent of the units, which 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.
Defects in new flats have been in the news this year as well, with several developments reported to have shoddy workmanship.
The last incident occurred last month at Punggol Waterway Terraces I.
“Considering the amount we paid for the flat, we did not expect to see such bad defects or bad workmanship,” one resident said. “Water pressure of the tap, shower head and toilet flushing were also weak. Timber skirting around the house were also painted with white paint making it looked so cheapskate.”
In response to the slew of defects, the HDB said the bulk of the complaints were “surface imperfections”.
“This is due mainly to the inherent features of natural materials or the nature of construction works that are dependent on manual labour,” a HDB spokesman said.
She stressed that these defects do not affect the structural integrity of the building and can be rectified easily.