Proportion of delayed BTO projects down from 90% to 40%, HDB expects to clear backlog in 2 years

In the past two years, HDB has completed 55 per cent of BTO projects – or 52 projects – delayed by pandemic-related factors. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE – About 40 per cent of ongoing Build-To-Order (BTO) projects are delayed owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the Housing Board said it expects to clear the backlog in about two years.

HDB on Saturday said the proportion of such delayed BTO projects has come down from more than 90 per cent in 2021 on the back of the improving Covid-19 and migrant manpower situation, as well as government support for the construction industry.

In the past two years, HDB has completed 55 per cent of BTO projects – or 52 projects – delayed by pandemic-related factors. This project completion rate is the highest in the past five years, said HDB chief executive Tan Meng Dui.

“Over the next two years, we will continue to work hard to minimise delays of our BTO projects and press on to deliver more homes to our flat buyers, without compromising safety and quality,” he said.

The first BTO project to be completed without any delays since the pandemic began will be ready by the first quarter of 2023, said HDB.

Keat Hong Verge, located in the non-mature estate of Choa Chu Kang, has 571 two-room flexi, three-room and four-room units across three blocks.

HDB noted that flat owners would have waited just slightly over two years for their units in this project when they get their keys, despite its August 2020 launch at a time when the construction industry was suffering a manpower and supply crunch.

Since 2018, HDB has been offering some BTO flats with shorter waiting times of less than three years by starting construction works before launching the projects.

To date, close to 11,000 flats with shorter waiting times have been launched. Of these, about 7,200 flats were launched between 2020 and 2022.

Although the pandemic affected the pipeline of such BTO flats with shorter waiting times, HDB said it aims to launch more of such flats in the future.

HDB said that up until about a year ago, it had a shortage of 25 per cent of the workforce needed to build BTO projects, because of various Covid-19 measures and restrictions.

To help contractors reduce construction delays, HDB sourced workers from overseas and helped them enter Singapore safely to tackle labour shortages.

The board also shouldered some of the Covid-19-related cost increases.

Senior project director Chua Hoe Seang, 65, who oversaw the construction of the Tampines GreenVerge BTO project, said his project would most likely have been further delayed if not for the skilled foreign workers whom HDB helped bring into Singapore during the pandemic.

The company he works for, Kay Lim Construction and Trading, now has four BTO projects under its belt, with construction activities almost back to pre-Covid-19 levels.

The 2,077 units in Garden Waterfront I and II @ Tengah will have one of the shortest waiting times of three years and four months. PHOTO: HDB

HDB also said it is piloting new technologies – such as 3D concrete printing that can increase construction productivity and cut material wastage – at two BTO projects, Garden Waterfront I & II @ Tengah, launched in November 2022.

These technologies are expected to increase productivity by 25 per cent compared with other BTO projects and could be rolled out for future BTO developments.

In 2023, HDB will launch up to 23,000 BTO flats to meet the strong demand for housing. It launched 23,184 flats in 2022.

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