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Fewer BTO projects now delayed by 6 months or more, down from over 80% last year: Desmond Lee

SINGAPORE — There were 58 Build-To-Order (BTO) projects, or less than 60 per cent of all projects, delayed by six months or more as of April this year.

 

Fewer BTO projects now delayed by 6 months or more, down from over 80% last year: Desmond Lee
National Development Minister Desmond Lee (pictured) on a visit to Northshore Edge housing project in Punggol on May 25, 2022.
  • National Development Minister Desmond Lee said the number of BTO projects delayed by more than six months is now 58,
  • This is down from 74 projects during the same period in 2021
  • He said the priority now is to minimise more delays and keep projects going
  • The construction sector has been receiving help from the Government, he added
  • This includes sourcing for workers and helping contractors ease their cashflow

SINGAPORE — There were 58 Build-To-Order (BTO) projects, or less than 60 per cent of all projects, delayed by six months or more as of April this year.

This is down from 74 projects, or more than 80 per cent, during the same time last year, National Development Minister Desmond Lee said on Wednesday (May 25).

He added that the median waiting time for the completion of other BTO projects over the next two years will likely be kept to four to four-and-a-half years.

This, said Mr Lee, is lower than for the projects under construction now, which have waiting times of between four and five years because of the impact of the pandemic.

He was speaking to reporters after a visit to Block 402B at Punggol's Northshore Edge BTO project — the first of three blocks to be completed. HDB said the remaining two blocks will be completed in the coming weeks.

In all, Mr Lee said that HDB delivered close to 15,000 new homes last year, higher than the 13,500 in 2019, before the pandemic started.

"In fact, if you visit HDB, every day they are handing over keys to households," he said.

The priority now, said Mr Lee, is to minimise further delays and keep projects going.

He said HDB is on track to deliver up to 23,000 BTO flats this year and a similar number next year.

Up to 100,000 new HDB homes will be launched between 2021 and 2025 "if the demand requires", he added.

Mr Lee said applications for this month's BTO exercise will begin this Friday and end on June 2.

TODAY previously reported that HDB is launching 4,500 units in the upcoming BTO exercise, which will include two Prime Location Public Housing projects in Bukit Merah and Queenstown, as well as flats in Jurong West, Toa Payoh and Yishun.

Mr Lee said that the Covid-19 pandemic had thrown up many challenges for the construction sector, including a lack of workers and the occasional disruption to the supply of construction materials.

To assist contractors cope with these hurdles, he said HDB has helped them source for workers and built up stockpiles of construction material.

"Some six to eight months ago, just for HDB projects alone… we were short of 25 per cent of our workforce,"said Mr Lee.

"Now we have replenished (the workforce) through recruitment and through the return of experienced workers that were stuck overseas and have largely come back."

He added that HDB has shared the increasing costs that contractors face, whether for manpower or non-manpower costs.

In addition, HDB has also provided advance payments and progress payments more frequently to help contractors with their cash flow.

Efforts such as these have allowed BTO projects such as Northshore Edge to be completed ahead of schedule, Mr Lee said.

The project was originally supposed to be completed in the fourth quarter of last year, but was delayed by an estimated six months due to the pandemic.

But through such collective efforts between HDB and the contractors, it became possible to shave one month off the six-month delay.

Moving forward, Mr Lee said flat buyers can expect to get more information on the completion of their homes.

For instance, he said about three months before the flat completion, HDB will update buyers on the likely month of completion — sometimes a range of two months — instead of providing the probable completion date by the quarter of the year.

Said Mr Lee: "This will help them with the last mile journey towards homeownership."

COMPENSATION FOR DELAYED PROJECTS

As for projects that have gone past the delivery possession date, such as Waterway Sunrise 2 along Punggol Drive and Sengkang's Anchorvale Village, Mr Lee said HDB will reach out to the affected homebuyers.

The delivery possession date refers to the date by which HDB is required under the agreement for lease to deliver possession of a flat to a homebuyer.

While Mr Lee did not go into details, he said HDB will "compensate them for expense they had to be put through" as a result of exceeding the delivery possession date.

HDB said that it will disburse to all flat buyers of Waterway Sunrise 2 and Anchorvale Village the maximum reimbursement sum that they are eligible for under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, without requiring them to submit claims or proof of expenses so as to minimise further inconvenience.

When asked what HDB is doing to speed up the construction of Waterway Sunrise 2 and Anchorvale Village, Mr Lee said that just like other projects delayed by Covid-19, HDB will be working closely with the consultants and builders to identify the causes for the delays and work with them to speed things up.

"But, (they will do so) without impacting the safety of the workforce, or the safety and quality of construction."

CLARIFICATION: In an earlier version of this article, Mr Lee said affected homebuyers of the delayed BTO projects Waterway Sunrise 2 and Anchorvale Village should provide the necessary information to HDB to help it work out their compensation. HDB has clarified that this is not needed as they will be eligible for the maximum reimbursement sum without a requirement to submit claims or proof of expenses.

Related topics

HDB housing property construction BTO flat

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