Minister Heng Swee Keat oversees grassroots taskforce on Centrale 8 DBSS complaints

Centrale 8 resident Michelle Lim said water seeped into the wall and flooring of her bedroom after a water pipe in her bathroom burst.
Centrale 8 resident Michelle Lim said water seeped into the wall and flooring of her bedroom after a water pipe in her bathroom burst. PHOTO: MICHELLE LIM

SINGAPORE - Education Minister Heng Swee Keat is overseeing a special taskforce set up to handle the concerns of Tampines Centrale 8 residents, who have been unhappy with defects and design issues of the Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) project.

Mr Heng is a Member of Parliament for the constituency and an advisor to the Tampines grassroots organisations.

Led by Tampines GRC group constituency director Kelvin Thong, the newly-formed taskforce will comprise members of the Tampines Citizens' Consultative Committee (CCC) and representatives from various agencies such as the Tampines Town Council and the Housing Board, Mr Thong said.

News of the taskforce comes after a petition signed by over 700 residents from more than 350 Centrale 8 units was presented to Sim Lian Group, the developer of the project. A hardcopy of the petition was also presented to Mr Heng at his Meet-the-People session on Monday (June 22).

The residents want an extension of the soon-to-expire one-year Defects Liability Period, during which the developer is obliged to rectify any defects, as well as compensation for defects "that cannot be reasonably rectified".

Residents began collecting their keys to Centrale 8 units in June last year, but found defects such as rusty door handles, uneven tiles and choked toilets. Some also took issue with "design flaws that cannot be fully rectified", such as sanitary pipes being placed in the service yard and oddly-positioned doors.

Their recent petition includes seven demands, beginning with a dialogue session with the developer in July in the presence of the HDB and their MPs.

Among other things, the residents also want the Building Service Centre at Centrale 8 to remain in operation until the end of December and for subsequent offsite support until June 2017. Other requests include an extension of warranty on all furnishings and fittings by another two years to June 2017.

The residents also asked the developer to work out a compensation package for design issues such as the sanitary pipes in the service yard.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, Sim Lian Group confirmed that it had received the petition from home-owners and "will continue to attend to their concerns on a one-to-one basis".

The developer is also working with the HDB, the Tampines CCC, the Tampines Town Council and grassroots representatives.

Said a spokesman: "We have been engaging with home-owners individually over the past months to address their concerns and we appreciate the many home-owners who have signed off their defects form acknowledging satisfactory completion of the rectification works."

The developer, however, did not seem to be about to grant residents' demands for a longer Defects Liability Period, saying instead that it will "review subsequent requests for rectification works on a case-by-case basis after the expiry of individual home-owners' Defects Liability Period".

The Building Service Centre (BSC) also does not seem likely to operate until December.

The developer has encouraged home-owners to submit their defect rectification forms in hardcopy to the Building Services Centre as soon as possible within their respective Defects Liability Periods, and "before the onsite BSC operating office closes on 31 July 2015".

The spokesman added: "Thereafter, defects management will be channelled back to Sim Lian Group's office."

Home-owners whose Defects Liability Period expires after July 31 may continue to submit soft copy defect rectification forms to bsc.centrale8@yahoo.com.sg, or contact Sim Lian Group's customer service officer at 6786-2466.

Launched in 2005, the DBSS scheme offers higher-income flat buyers homes with better designs, fittings and finishes than standard Build-to-Order flats.

Built on government land, DBSS flats are designed and sold by private developers, but these projects do not have facilities such as swimming pools and gyms.

The scheme was suspended in 2011 after a public outcry over high indicative price tags for units at Centrale 8. The developer had given an initial price of $880,000 for a five-room unit, which was later lowered to $778,000.