Sunshine Gardens

Inferior material used in Choa Chu Kang BTO

Sunshine Gardens
Sunshine Gardens

A resident of a new build-to-order flat in Choa Chu Kang has informed The Online Citizen (TOC) of defects found at his new home.

The resident, who asked to remain anonymous, had written to the authorities, including the Housing and Development Board (HDB) in April, informing them of the problems the new homeowners were facing.

He says that the skirting in his home was not what they were promised at the point of sale.

“Upon entering the unit, my fiancé and I realized that the timber skirting actually installed was completely different from what we had opted for at HDB Hub,” he said. “Instead of a natural wood skirting with standardized wood-grain finish, it was a painted board that was completely different from the sample we had seen.”

On Saturday, MP for Choa Chu Kang GRC, Zaqy Mohamad, told the press “that residents at a new BTO project in his constituency had alerted him to severe leaking and flooring problems.”

“The quality of some of these projects is quite worrying, and there has been quite a lot of unhappiness,” Mr Zaqy said, adding that he was raising the issue in Parliament on Monday.

In his response to questions from MPs on Monday, the Minister of State for National Development, Desmond Lee, said that the quality of BTO flats has “significantly improved” over the years, citing Construction Quality Assessment System scores rising from 79 in 2003 to 89 last year.

“It continues to rise and is comparable to that in private developments,” he said.

However, this is little comfort to residents affected by defects in their new homes.

The resident whose email to the authorities is appended below, told TOC, “[The] MND minister don’t understand us. If this happened at his house he can tahan [tolerate]?”

Below is the email the resident of the BTO wrote to the authorities about one aspect of the unsatisfactory workmanship and material used for the skirting in his flat for which he had to pay an extra S$5,900.

Dear officer-in-charge,

I am writing this on behalf of the new residents at Sunshine Garden (BTO HDB) at Choa Chu Kang Ave 5 regarding the optional finishes for our new flats.

At the time of unit selection in early April 2012, my fiancé and I opted for the timber skirting finish to be installed at an additional cost of $5,900.00. We, like many of our new neighbours, did so on the basis of the sample provided by HDB, which was a board of natural wood with visible wood-grain finish (see photographs below).

Figure 1: Sample Board for Optional Finishes
Figure 1: Sample Board for Optional Finishes

On 23 Mar 15, we received the keys to our unit in Blk ****. Upon entering the unit, my fiancé and I realized that the timber skirting actually installed was completely different from what we had opted for at HDB Hub. Instead of a natural wood skirting with standardized wood-grain finish, it was a painted board that was completely different from the sample we had seen (see photograph below).

Figure 2: Actual skirting installed
Figure 2: Actual skirting installed

One of our shocked neighbours even removed the installed skirting from their new flat to determine its actual material. We realized that instead of one standard type of wood (and thus wood-grain) for each room as implied by the sample, the contractor had used several different types of leftover wood, and painted over one surface with an ugly brown paint.

Figure 3: Back view of timber skirting removed from one of our neighbours from Block 487
Figure 3: Back view of timber skirting removed from one of our neighbours from Block 487

Timber skirting is installed purely for cosmetic purposes, and its appearance is one of the key aspects of any such installation. We elected to purchase the option based on the samples shown to us.

We can understand that wood is a natural product and that the exact type of wood used and thus the wood-grain finish may differ from apartment to apartment, or worse, even from room to room. However, even if the exact wood type and finish differ, the quality of the materials used should still be similar to what was promised.

Yet the quality of the materials actually installed is a far cry from the sample we were shown. Instead of the expected wood-grain skirting, random types of timber planks were installed and simply painted over to appear uniform. The delivered product is entirely different from that which was represented to us at the time we elected to purchase the option.

When we headed down to the Building Service Centre (BSC) to clarify the matter with the contractors. It quickly became evident that the skirting materials had been intentionally replaced with shoddy alternatives.

We spoke with a Mr. Wong, whom we understand to be a Project Manager representing ADDP Architects. Faced with our queries, he retrieved the original sample board, but with the original skirting sample covered with a sheet of white paper. Subsequently, when he realized that the original skirting sample could be seen despite the paper, he had the entire sample torn off the sample board.

​Figure 4: Skirting sample hidden behind white paper
​Figure 4: Skirting sample hidden behind white paper

This replacement is not acceptable to us. HDB provides purchasers with renovation options such as this for the purpose of providing the people with cost-effective options to mitigate their renovation costs. However, the current situation only forces purchasers to pay for substandard work.

We hope that HDB can step in to properly look after our interests, and arrange for our timber skirting to be replaced with one of similar quality to that which we were originally promised.

Regards