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Waits of 6-7 years for BTO flats ‘in minority’, most completed in 4-5 years despite delays: Desmond Lee

SINGAPORE — Despite construction delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Build-To-Order (BTO) projects that take six to seven years to complete are in the minority, National Development Minister Desmond Lee said. Most projects still come with an average wait of four to five years, barring further unexpected developments.

Waits of 6-7 years for BTO flats ‘in minority’, most completed in 4-5 years despite delays: Desmond Lee

Up to 23,000 government-built flats would be launched yearly in 2022 and 2023.

SINGAPORE — Despite construction delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Build-To-Order (BTO) projects that take six to seven years to complete are in the minority, National Development Minister Desmond Lee said. Most projects still come with an average wait of four to five years, barring further unexpected developments.

Mr Lee told Parliament on Tuesday (Oct 5) that homebuyers who booked units at BTO projects launched this year and last year can expect to wait an estimated three to five-and-a-half years for their flats.

For example, the Hougang Citrine project launched in August is expected to be completed in three years, and Garden Court@Tengah that was launched in November last year has a waiting time of about three-and-a-half years. 

For projects that will be dragged out over longer periods such as Queen’s Arc in Queenstown, Mr Lee said that the longer waits were because of difficult site conditions or because the projects have “very high storey heights” and thus need more time to build.

“These have caused some people to worry that all new BTOs will take six to seven years, but these are in the minority,” he added. 

The minister was responding to a parliamentary question from Ms Cheryl Chan, Member of Parliament for East Coast Group Representation Constituency, on the disruptions to construction brought about by the pandemic. 

She asked how these interruptions have affected the estimated completion timelines of government-built BTO housing projects.

In his reply, Mr Lee said that the Government’s measures have ensured that any delays caused by the coronavirus outbreak to BTO projects have been kept to a year or less.

Only one project, which he did not name, has seen longer delays because it was already facing “project difficulties unrelated to the pandemic”.

On the whole, the wait for all BTO projects has been kept under six years, he said. 

Mr Lee added that the Housing and Development Board has rolled out help to contractors to mitigate pandemic-related delays and help them finish projects in a timely manner.

For instance, to ease labour shortages, the public housing agency has worked with construction firms to recruit workers from various countries and helped foot some of the increases in manpower costs.

It has also extended the period of protection against steel-price fluctuations and supplied contractors with more concreting materials at protected prices.

Help has also been extended to homebuyers affected by the delays, Mr Lee said.

For instance, the Government recently announced that it would increase the supply of flats under the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme by 800 units in the next two years.  

The scheme was introduced in 2013 to provide young families with temporary housing while waiting for their new flats. 

The Government is also on track to launch 17,000 BTO flats this year and will raise supply beyond this number next year.

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BTO housing HDB Desmond Lee construction Covid-19

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