Residents turn to Facebook, MPs to highlight BTO defects

So far, 430 of the 960 flats in Tampines GreenLeaf have been handed over. Defects, such as the wall skirting falling off and uneven tiles (above), have been reported for about three in 10 units. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
So far, 430 of the 960 flats in Tampines GreenLeaf have been handed over. Defects, such as the wall skirting falling off and uneven tiles (above), have been reported for about three in 10 units. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
So far, 430 of the 960 flats in Tampines GreenLeaf have been handed over. Defects, such as the wall skirting falling off (above) and uneven tiles, have been reported for about three in 10 units. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
So far, 430 of the 960 flats in Tampines GreenLeaf have been handed over. Defects, such as the wall skirting falling off (above) and uneven tiles, have been reported for about three in 10 units. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Upset with defects in their new Housing Board flats, some Tampines GreenLeaf residents are going beyond just reporting the problems.

They have set up a Facebook group, approached Tampines GRC MP Baey Yam Keng and may even meet Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, the MP for their ward.

"I was shocked at the number of defects. I felt very upset and short-changed," said a resident who wished to be known as Ms Teo.

When the 31-year-old human resource executive entered her new four-room flat in June, she was taken aback by the plain brown of its timber skirting.

"It was quite an eyesore. That kind of brown is not even like normal wood."

The sample they saw when selecting their flat had visible wood grain. That sort of skirting is in place for the first two Tampines GreenLeaf blocks, 522A and 522B.

But the architect later decided on an opaque finish for the skirting in other blocks, for a more consistent colour.

Previous projects with that uniform finish drew no complaints, said the architect.

For Mr Simon Ng, colour was not the only problem. Since collecting the keys to his five-roomer on July 1, he has seen widening gaps between the skirting and the wall.

"The defects will definitely delay my plans for moving into the new house," said Mr Ng, who is in his late 30s. "The worst is that during this period, I have to pay for two houses, which is tough."

Other problems, with complaints coming from across six of the nine blocks, include uneven tiles, chipped walls and rust stains, as chronicled on the Tampines GreenLeaf Defects Facebook group.

The group has almost 300 members, though many have yet to get their keys. Only 15 members replied to a survey on the problems found.

Of 430 flats handed over thus far, defects have been reported for about three in 10, said the HDB.

As residents share their stories, the issue might be amplified and seem larger than it is, noted Mr Baey. "When you have a concentration of interest and views, it just reinforces or heightens feelings."

Yet though he has received just five to 10 e-mail messages, he is not letting the matter rest, saying: "Getting your new flat should be a happy occasion."

He and Mr Heng are arranging to be briefed by the HDB and then to meet residents.

Said the HDB: "We recognise the anxieties experienced by some Tampines GreenLeaf residents. We seek their understanding as we do our best to address the feedback."

But with more than half of the estate's 960 flats still to be handed over, anxiety continues for those who have yet to see their new homes. The TOP is meant to be during the third quarter of this year.

Sales executive Roger Lum, 26, did not choose the optional floor tiles and skirting, but fears problems may crop up with his walls and windows. "After seeing all these posts, I'm actually quite worried," he said.

janiceh@sph.com.sg