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Over 16,000 Flats Delivered Since Jan 2020; Number of Projects Completed in 2021 Expected to Exceed Pre-Pandemic Numbers
HDB continues to work closely with contractors to minimise delays to BTO projects
To keep our housing projects on track amid the pandemic, HDB has been leaning forward to support our contractors, including rolling out an extensive suite of assistance measures to help ease their financial pressures. This has enabled HDB to continue to deliver homes to flat buyers amid severe disruptions to the construction industry caused by the pandemic. Since Jan 2020, HDB has completed 25 residential projects, and delivered more than 16,000 new homes to Singaporeans.
2 Among the 25 projects, 11 were completed in 2020 and another 14 completed in 2021 to-date. Another 5 more projects are expected to be completed by the end of this year, barring unforeseen circumstances. This is over 70% more than the number of projects delivered in 2020, which was disrupted by the 2-month Circuit Breaker and then slow resumption of construction activities. The projected completion of 19 projects in 2021 will exceed the 17 projects completed in 2018 and 2019 each, before the pandemic (see Table A).
3 For all the 25 projects delivered since Jan 2020, the waiting times ranged from 2.4 to 5.3 years, with an average waiting time of 4.1 years. Among them, 11 projects, or more than 40%, were delivered in less than 4 years (with 8 delivered in less than 4 years and 3 delivered in under 3 years). For ongoing BTO projects, the average waiting time is also comparable at 4 to 5 years, including delays brought about by the pandemic. Overall, barring unforeseen circumstances, the average waiting time of BTO projects to be delivered from now till end-2024 is about 4.4 years (see Table B).
Table B: Waiting time of projects to be delivered from Oct 2021 to end-2024
4 With projects progressively being completed, more flat buyers have collected the keys to their new homes. From Jan to Sep 2021, about 10,350 new flats were delivered to flat buyers. This has surpassed the 6,340 and 9,380 flats delivered over the same period in 2020 and 2019 respectively.
Support for the Construction Industry
5 The Covid-19 pandemic has put the whole construction industry under severe strain, with many contractors facing challenges of manpower shortages, supply disruptions, increased cost of materials and productivity loss. Since 2020, border restrictions have caused disruptions to the global supply chain and severely affected the progress of all construction projects, in both the private and public sectors. Work stoppages during the Circuit Breaker period, and stringent but necessary safe management measures imposed at worksites have also impacted construction progress. We recognise that delays to the completion of HDB residential projects affect our flat buyers, which is why the Government has rolled out various measures to support the construction industry and minimise delays to HDB’s projects.
6 HDB has been working closely with our building contractors, to secure the necessary resources they need to complete their projects, including manpower and material supply. We have also recently introduced additional assistance measures to ease the financial pressures brought about by the pandemic-induced spikes in construction costs, including both manpower and non-manpower costs. In addition, we have extended the period of protection against steel price fluctuations, and will supply our contractors with more concreting materials, at protected prices, for local precast production and cast-in-situ operations. HDB has also been checking in regularly with our building contractors and consultants to address any problems early and render assistance to alleviate pain points where necessary.
Impact on BTO Projects
7 Thus far, the Government’s support and assistance measures have helped to keep the pandemic-induced delays for almost all HDB projects to a year or less. Despite our best efforts, some projects may face longer delays than others. One BTO project, Waterway Sunrise II, has incurred a delay of more than one year. This is the only project, among the current 94 BTO projects, where the delay has exceeded one year.
8 Comprising 7 residential blocks with a total of 1,014 flats, Waterway Sunrise II was launched in Feb 2017 and was originally expected to complete between 1Q 2021 and 2Q 2021. The Probable Completion Date (PCD) was revised to 1Q 2022 and 2Q 2022 – a delay of 12 months – following the poor performance and subsequent failure of its original contractor Lian Ho Lee Construction (Private) Limited (LHLC) in Aug 2020. This resulted in HDB subsequently onboarding the replacement contractor, Expand Construction Pte Ltd, in Oct 2020. While HDB has been working closely with Expand Construction to get the project back on track, Covid-19-induced challenges like manpower shortage and disruptions to material supplies arising from the tightening of border controls since April this year, have caused construction works to slow down and resulted in further delays to the project.
9 As a result, the blocks in Waterway Sunrise II are now expected to be completed 6 to 9 months after their Delivery Possession Date (DPD), which is the legal contractual date by which HDB is required under the Agreement for Lease to deliver possession of the flat. Hence, HDB will be making compensation to flat buyers for the delay. The revised PCDs range from 4Q 2022 to 1Q 2023 (details in Annex A), bringing the total waiting time for the project to about 5.5 years.
10 Under Part 8C of the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act (COTMA), flat buyers whose flats are delayed beyond their DPD can seek reimbursement for qualifying costs incurred for delays beyond the DPD. According to the COTMA Act, which applies to all developers, flat buyers would need to submit proof of their out-of-pocket qualifying expenses to receive the reimbursement. However, to minimise further inconvenience to flat buyers, HDB will be disbursing all flat buyers of Waterway Sunrise II the maximum reimbursement sum that they would be eligible for, without requiring them to submit claims/proof of the expenses.
11 HDB has reached out to the flat buyers of Waterway Sunrise II to inform them of the latest development, and will continue to keep them updated as construction progresses. In addition to the maximum reimbursement under COTMA, flat buyers who are unable to find alternative interim housing arrangements with family members, relatives or on the open market, can apply for temporary housing under the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS), if they are first-timers. For affected flat buyers who decide to cancel their BTO flat booking to buy a resale flat due to urgent housing needs, HDB will also consider waiving the forfeiture and one-year wait out period.
12 Meanwhile, HDB is continuing to work closely with the contractor, Expand Construction, to render various assistance and to expedite construction works. These include working with the contractor to engage a second source of precast supply, and supporting the contractor to diversify their sources of precast components, to address the disruptions to its precast supply from Malaysia arising from Malaysia’s Movement Control Orders. At the same time, we are also prioritising manpower allocation for this project to help the contractor expedite construction works, while ensuring that adequate safety management measures are in place on site. We will continue to do more to help the contractor complete the project, so that our flat buyers can collect their keys and move into their new homes as soon as possible.