BTO flat quality 'comparable' to private developments'
THE ramping up of Build-to-Order (BTO) flat supply over the last four years has not compromised their quality, said Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee.
Replying to six MPs who raised queries on public-housing defects, Mr Lee also said that complaints about the premium Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) do not mean it has failed.
For BTO flats sold by the Housing Board, about a third of all new residents approach the Building Service Centre for help after collecting their keys, he said.
Of these requests for help, about three-quarters involve defects, with "the vast majority" being surface imperfections which do not affect the building's structural integrity.
The number of defects reported has not changed significantly over the years, said Mr Lee.
According to the Building and Construction Authority's independent assessment of building quality - the Construction Quality Assessment System - BTO flat quality has actually risen from a score of 79 in 2003 to 89 last year.
"It continues to rise and is comparable to that in private developments," he said.
Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC) noted that in Australia, payment to the main contractors is held back until defects are fixed. He asked if HDB could postpone the start of payment for BTO home owners if repairs are delayed.
Mr Lee replied that developers are already required to address defects within a month. If they do not, the buyer can inform the developer, get the defect fixed and then make a claim for reimbursement from the developer. "So, in a way, we shouldn't have delays in rectification," he said.
MPs also had questions on DBSS flats, which are designed, built and sold by private developers.
Non-Constituency MP Yee Jenn Jong noted that the official intent of the DBSS scheme is "to meet the housing aspirations of higher-income flat buyers for better design and finishes". He asked: "So do all these complaints signify that DBSS has actually failed in the intent?"
In response, Mr Lee said it was important to note that there have been 13 DBSS projects since 2005.
"Not to trivialise the defects and the concern that first-time home buyers in particular feel when they see scratches or paint marks on their units or more serious defects, but I think you shouldn't...use these current few points that have been in the public eye to condemn the entire scheme as a failure," he said.