GFA system eats into communal space

THE use of the gross floor area (GFA) system in calculating buildable area is the main cause of the problems faced by all stakeholders, such as architects, engineers, developers, builders and buyers ("Corridors of discontent at Pasir Ris One"; Thursday).

As the total buildable area is fixed for a given site, based on the plot ratio (except for air-conditioner ledges, planters, and mechanical rooms less than 1.5m in height), any communal space, such as corridors, lobbies, staircases, management corporation offices, and multi-purpose rooms, would reduce the net saleable area.

With high tendered land prices of more than $600 per sq ft per plot ratio and sale prices of more than $1,000 psf for any area not saleable, developers would incur total losses of more than $1,600 psf.

So it is common to see that communal spaces are set at a minimum, whether at a condominium, an executive condo, or a Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) project.

This has given rise to large roof terraces (which are non-GFA but saleable areas), swimming pools and water bodies (high maintenance costs for buyers), large air-con ledges and planters, and tight mechanical and electrical rooms (difficult to maintain).

Small lift lobbies are also more exposed to rain and flooding.

In order to squeeze in more saleable area, often, the optimum design for a good living environment is compromised.

It is a pity because Singaporeans pay a high price for their homes but are not getting the best living environment that they deserve.

Lim Chin Pau