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Noise from renovations: HDB could do more to notify work-from-home residents via digital means

With working from home being part of our new normal even as we move into the third phase of reopening the economy, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) needs a better system to inform residents of ongoing renovations in their block.

A reader said that she had to shout throughout an online meeting while working from home because of renovation works in a neighbouring unit.

A reader said that she had to shout throughout an online meeting while working from home because of renovation works in a neighbouring unit.

With working from home being part of our new normal even as we move into the third phase of reopening the economy, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) needs a better system to inform residents of ongoing renovations in their block.

I reside at a HDB block where the flats have just passed their minimum occupation period. As a result, there are a number of flat owners selling their property and buyers renovating the flats before they move into their new homes.

Typically, the renovation contractors paste a notice at the void deck of the housing block.

However, it has become hard to keep track of the many renovation notices plastered randomly at the void deck.

One day last month, as I was about to conduct a virtual meeting, heavy hacking works started somewhere near my flat.

I had to shout throughout the meeting because I did not have time to plan for an escape from the loud noise.

I realised later that I had missed a renovation notice among the sea of notices and it was most likely pasted just a day before the works started.

In a similar incident two weeks before that, while I was in an online meeting, loud drilling and knocking noises came from a neighbouring unit that had passed its approved renovation period.

I contacted HDB to check if the flat owners were renovating beyond the approved period since the renovation notice had been removed from the void deck.

I was told that carpentry work was underway. Carpentry work, despite the extent of noise and dust generated, does not need to be done during the approved period.

The HDB estate officer told me to contact the contractor to check on the renovation schedule, but with the renovation notice already removed, I could not get the contractor's number.

The officer then explained that notices are not required to be pasted at void decks, only outside the unit undergoing renovation.

I am not sure how this is of any help because residents will not be aware of renovation works happening in their block unless they traverse the entire block to see which units are doing that before they can plan ahead to escape the noise.

Given that Singapore is en route to becoming a smart nation, HDB needs to tap its digital platforms or resale portal to better inform residents of upcoming renovation works.

There also needs to be a consistent definition of what constitutes noisy renovation works for these to be included in the approved renovation period, so that affected neighbours can plan around such schedules as they work from home.

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HDB renovation work from home noise pollution

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