Ongoing BTO projects affected by Covid-19 to be ready in 2 to 3 years

Northshore Edge in Punggol is one of three projects that is completed ahead of its revised probable completion date this year. PHOTO: HDB

SINGAPORE - The Housing Board expects to complete all Build-To-Order (BTO) projects that were delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic in two to three years.

Giving an update on such projects on Saturday (July 30), HDB said more than 7,200 flats were completed in the first half of this year, up from the previous two years.

There are nearly 100 projects under construction, excluding those sold in the February and May exercises this year, said HDB in a statement. These projects have estimated waiting times of two to 5.4 years, and a median waiting time of 4.3 years.

While HDB acknowledged that delays caused by Covid-19 "cannot be fully recovered", its chief executive Tan Meng Dui said the construction industry is regaining momentum after two years of severe disruptions.

"HDB has been working closely with our consultants and contractors, putting in place measures to reduce construction delays and supporting our partners to secure the necessary resources, so that flat buyers can move into their new homes as soon as possible," Mr Tan said.

These efforts include helping its contractors to prioritise work areas, securing manpower and material supplies, as well as getting special waivers for less noisy construction activities to be carried out over the weekends where feasible.

The 7,200 BTO flats already completed this year are spread across six projects - three of which are more than a month ahead of schedule, HDB said.

The total surpasses the 2,485 and 6,275 posted for the same period in 2020 and 2021 respectively, as the pandemic curtailed construction works due to border restrictions and safe management measures.

The completed projects - all BTOs - are Senja Ridges, Senja Heights and Senja Valley in Bukit Panjang, Dakota Breeze near Old Airport Road, Northshore Edge in Punggol and Fernvale Glades in Sengkang.

Senja Ridges, Senja Heights and Northshore Edge were completed ahead of their revised schedule.

The flat buyers were informed of the postponement three to nine months ago, said HDB. 

The waiting time for the six projects ranged from 3.9 to 5.3 years, taking into account construction delays due to the pandemic, with a median waiting time of 4.1 years.

The authorities have previously said that the median waiting time for BTO projects over the next two years is between four and 4½ years, compared with four to five years during the pandemic.

Ms Syafiqah said she and her husband, a 29-year-old operations executive, applied for the flat upon their engagement in 2017, but their hopes of getting it by their 2020 wedding were dashed by the pandemic.

The mother of a nine-month-old baby girl said she was grateful to the HDB for its prompt service amid trying circumstances.

Though the early completion was a happy surprise for her, she said: “I had to arrange for earlier delivery of furniture in August, and ensure renovation works finish within one month.”

Film producer Daniel Arumugam, 33, was supposed to receive the keys to his three-room flat at the Dakota Breeze estate last March, but only got them in May this year.

He and his wife, 32, had to rent a walk-up apartment in Balestier while waiting for their delayed flat.

Mr Arumugam said he felt an assurance like the one the HDB just gave would have been really helpful while he was waiting for his delayed flat.

“Such an assurance helps people plan better for their rental... and life planning in general,” he said.

He added: “When renting, we didn’t know how long our flat was going to be delayed; we had a rough indication (but) nothing was promised.”

HDB’s latest announcement comes amid news in April of further delays of three to six more months to at least three BTO projects, The Straits Times found.

Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said in May that the number of BTO projects delayed by six months or longer dropped to 58 as at April, from 74 in 2021.

He noted that HDB handed almost 15,000 homes to flat buyers in 2021, more than the 13,500 in 2019.

“We are quietly confident that this year we will be able to deliver even more keys,” he said then.

In the release, HDB also said:

- The BTO supply has been ramped up by 35 per cent - from 17,000 in 2021 to 23,000 in 2022 and 2023 - to meet strong demand for public housing;

- It can launch up to 100,000 flats in total from 2021 to 2025, subject to demand;

- It is on track to launch 23,000 flats this year, including the 4,000 and 4,600 launched in February and May;

- About 4,900 BTO flats would be launched in August in places such as Ang Mo Kio, Bukit Merah, Choa Chu Kang, Jurong East, Tampines and Woodlands;

- Another 9,500 flats would be launched in November in areas such as Bukit Batok, Kallang Whampoa, Queenstown and Yishun.

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