Upset over unexpected cost during HDB flat renovation

My husband and I bought a three-room Housing Board resale flat that was 38 years old at the time of purchase. We spent a lot when renovating the flat, due to its condition. Without financial help from family, we wouldn't have been able to afford the renovation.

In the midst of renovation, we got a shock when we were told to engage a professional engineer to design and get approval from the Building and Construction Authority for two bars to be installed across a window as a safety barrier, since the window was less than a metre from the floor.

The window had to be replaced, as the previous owner had used a window air-conditioner which left a big hole in the window grille.

The cost of engaging a professional engineer was $2,400 and the construction of the bars was $1,650.

As a first-time HDB flat buyer, I was upset and stressed over the sudden need to fork out more cash.

I wrote to the HDB Sims Drive Branch Office to appeal to get a subsidy or waiver, as we had not been informed of such costs when we purchased the flat.

I was assured by an estate executive that they were actively looking into my e-mail. But, after eight months of chasing after them, there was no response anymore.

My questions to them are these:

The flat design is standardised and approved by the HDB, which means that all window dimensions are the same for all the flats in the area. So, shouldn't the cost of engaging a professional engineer be absorbed by the HDB since the dimension of the safety bars is standard throughout the estate?

Next, why didn't the HDB construct the safety barrier for all the houses in the area to begin with? Does it mean that the HDB feels other households do not need to be safe?

Cheong Huixin (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2018, with the headline 'Upset over unexpected cost during HDB flat renovation'. Print Edition | Subscribe