The Minister for National Development said that HDB repair services should be undertaken by private contractors.
The Minister was responding to a a question by an MP who asked:
“(if) HDB repair services can be expanded to provide support for the elderly, less mobile residents living alone in non-rental flats when they experience problems in their homes like power trips and infrastructure problems.”
In responding to the MPs question on HDB repair services on Aug 5, Minister Lawrence Wong said:
“Flat owners are responsible for the maintenance and repair of the fittings and fixtures within their flats, and can engage their own contractors to carry out the necessary work. As such, HDB does not provide repair services for flat owners.
Nevertheless, we recognise that some flat owners, such as the elderly or less-mobile residents who live alone, may require extra help, so there are various avenues for these residents to seek help. For urgent assistance on maintenance matters, such as power trips that occur after office hours, residents can contact their Town Council’s Essential Maintenance Service Unit (EMSU), who can provide advice over the phone or recommend an electrician that the flat owner can engage.
HDB also provides general advice on home repair and maintenance, including referring residents to repair contractors that are listed on HDB’s website. Finally, flat owners can approach the community for help, and that includes the Community Development Councils (CDCs) and the grassroots organisations.”
New flat buyers can save some money from HDB repair services if they do defect inspection right before renovating their flats. That said, some defects are more visible to the naked eyes than others. Even experts may not be able to detect some defects.
A case in point for new HDB flat buyers, is that of a unit at the 10th floor of Block 678C Punggol Drive. The homeowners of a relatively new Built-to-Order (BTO) flat unit were only able to enjoy their unit for about 7 months in peace, before a termite infestation turned their dream home into a nightmare. The owner, 33-year-old insurance agent Mr Wong, shared with the Chinese daily that he and his wife moved into the unit in December 2016. In July 2017, the couple discovered a termite infestation in their home.
Just one month later, the couple found that the matter was more serious than they initially thought when Mr Wong discovered several nests in the wooden skirting of his home when his wife was abroad in August 2017.
Afraid, Mr Wong paid $300 to a pest exterminator to get rid of the termites. Unfortunately, the termites returned over the next few weeks, rebuilding their nests at the wooden skirting of the flat.
Mr Wong contacted Housing Development Board (HDB) about the matter. HDB revealed that they visited the flat in September 2017 but could not locate the termite nests. Mr Wong told reporters that after a subsequent house visit and investigation at the end of November 2017, HDB officials shared with him that they suspect the termites might have come from the roof garden above the unit.
Mr Wong revealed that HDB sent officers to remove the wooden skirting as a temporary solution last week, as the situation continues to be closely monitored by officials. A HDB spokesman added that while it is the responsibility of the flat owner to maintain their home, the Board is helping to exterminate the termites out of “goodwill”.
Unfortunately, the termite issue is not the only problem Mr Wong and his wife are facing. The insurance agent revealed to reporters that they also have to deal with water leaks on rainy days, as rainwater slides down the outer walls of his flat and leaks into his flat.
He lamented to the daily: “When it’s raining, there’s water leak. When it’s not raining, there’s termites, we don’t know what to do.”
It is now clearer that HDB repair services such as this will have to be undertaken by the homeowners engaging private contractors.
Defects in newly completed private non-landed property and HDB flats are not uncommon. Some years ago, residents of the Seaview Condo sued the developer, the main contractor, the architect and the electrical engineers for $32 million for all the defects in their project.
Developers of public housing projects are not without faults either. New HDB flat buyers should note that some reports say that there are 400 to 600 defects on average, in any newly TOP BTO unit.
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