Coronavirus: Suspended home renovations can restart but new works will have to wait

Home renovations will resume in two steps, with projects already under way allowed to proceed first. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - Home renovation works for Housing Board (HDB) flats and private homes that were disrupted can restart in Phase 1 of the post-circuit breaker period, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said on Wednesday (May 27).

Suspended building works for single-dwelling landed residential properties will also be able to resume from June 2.

The construction sector, which has largely been in limbo since Covid-19 circuit breaker measures kicked in on April 7, will gradually be gearing up again, starting off with critical projects while following a comprehensive set of safe management guidelines.

Home renovations will resume in two steps, with projects already under way allowed to proceed first, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong told Parliament on Tuesday (May 26).

On Wednesday, BCA said that new renovation works for residential units, including new building works for landed homes, will be allowed to commence only at a later date.

All companies that intend to restart suspended renovation and building works will have to seek approval from BCA and show documents such as photos of suspended works and contractual agreements with home owners.

Approval will only be granted when companies show that they can comply with the Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) Safe Management Measures and BCA's Covid-Safe Restart Criteria, which includes the following:

- the use of contact tracing apps

- the testing of workers before the resumption of works, followed by regular testing once every two weeks

- the training of workers who are carrying out construction-related activities to ensure familiarity with Covid-Safe measures; and

- the provision of dedicated accommodation and transport between work site and accommodation for workers

The cost of swabbing for existing construction projects will be paid by the Government until August 2020, BCA said in a circular on Wednesday.

Beyond that, the Government will work out the arrangements on how the cost of testing should be shared fairly among parties.

Subsequently, if any workers who are working are found to have missed regular testing, any approval given for resumption of works may be withdrawn, it added.

Those restarting building works at landed properties will have to track workers' movement with the national digital check-in system SafeEntry, as well as appoint safe management officers to enforce the measures.

Additionally, companies that are carrying out renovation works in HDB units will also need to apply to the Board for the necessary permits after receiving approval from BCA.

Remote video URL

A copy of BCA's approval has to be displayed outside the premises undergoing renovation.

The contractor will be responsible for implementing the required safeguards throughout the renovation period.

BCA chief executive officer Hugh Lim said that while he was aware that home owners were keen on moving into their new homes, construction works have to resume gradually to protect their health and safety, as well as the workforce and the community at large.

He said: "The industry is mindful that not all works can resume immediately as companies need time to implement safety measures. We seek home owners' understanding that suspended renovation works and building works may not be completed as quickly as they want them to be."

Mr Richard Yea, 43, chief executive officer of interior design firm Design 4 Space, said his company had around 70 projects with suspended works which would need approval from the authorities.

But he said it was unlikely works would resume on June 2 as seeking the necessary approvals takes time.

"I'm definitely happy to know we can restart but there are many rules to follow and things to apply for, which I understand, but it makes restarting quite complicated."

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.