Sunday 18 October 2015

Where will I be without you? - Punggol Waterway BTO Project

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Here in Singapore, we have a culture of bidding for a housing unit a few years before the dating couple decides to tie the knot. The bidding system is call the "Build to order" scheme, or in short we call it BTO.

How does it work?

Mainly meant for newly weds, this electronic balloting system would require the identification of both applicants in order to be qualified for the scheme. At least 1 of the applicant must be a Singapore citizen. The wedding certificate would need to be produced at the point of possession of house keys.

Interested applicants may have a joint application with their better half in a balloting system where the system will randomly issue queue numbers to all applicants.

With the BTO programme in place, many average guys in Singapore would forego the need to arrange for a romantic proposal by asking the girl to apply for a BTO flat with him. (*Witcast strongly encourage our readers to have a romantic proposal instead of asking your better half to apply for a BTO pls.)

Successful applicants with a queue number will be informed by the Housing Development Board (HDB) to select a unit of their choice at HDB main office. Those lucky ones with the lower queue numbers would have a good chance of securing a better unit of their choice. The better units range from nearer to the Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) stations, bus stops or even better view of their surroundings.

The waiting time for a series of BTO units to be built ranges from 2-6 years. Home owners would have a rough idea when their unit will be ready as HDB would publish the information on their website prior to the BTO project. For applicants who may not want to wait for the BTO units may choose to apply for a sale of balance flat unit, which will have a shorter waiting time than a BTO unit. Alternatively, they may also apply for a resale flat in the open market.

Mode of payment can be either through cash, home owner's Central Provident Fund(CPF) or loan from the bank/HDB.

So, my wife and I applied and secured a unit at the far north-east of the island. With a view overseeing the beautiful Punggol waterway, we expected to have our own home with a 4 years wait.

Fast forward to July 2015, HDB sent us a letter informing us that the Probable Completion Date(PCD) for our flat had been amended from Q3 2015 to September 2015. That's when we got excited for our own home, all the Interior Designers that we have met over the months, we finally can decide on one and start the renovation when we get our keys in Sep 2015.

We were wrong. Sep 2015 came and passed. No news from HDB, no update on their website on the PCD. We were disappointed that the public service we trusted in, failed us. So, on the 2nd week of Oct 2015, a standard system generated letter were sent to all affected residents. For ours, the PCD changed from Sep 2015 to End Nov 2015 due to situation changes on the ground. We wanted to write in to HDB but based on our neighbours' efforts in the past, we believe they will reply us with a standard template reply, hence we got no choice but to drop the idea.

An attempt to send a message to the current MP for Pasir Ris - Punggol GRC also landed us nowhere. The message was read but not replied. I think he is too busy with national issues and got no time for the future residents like me. Probably we should have asked him earlier, during the election period he would probably look into the issue more.

So, when will we finally move in to our "Promised home"? Only God knows.

A simple comparison against some recently completed building such as TreeTrail@Woodlands, their PCD was supposed to be in 2017, but the residents have received news for key collection now. Some contractors are good while some are just nonsense.

So, my concerns here are

1)Some of us has got wedding plans and if the unit will not be ready by our wedding date, we will continue to stay at our parents house and I don't think that is healthy for a married couple.

2) Some of us will be giving birth soon and they would be left without a personal roof over their head because of the main contractor, SUNHUAN's mistake.

3) Understand SUNHUAN will only compensate the residents if the completion date is 1 year after the PCD. But is this fair to the residents? Many of us had bought furniture and some of their value will drop as the technology will enhance further. Worst still, they face a risk of the vendor closing down and their deposit will be lost.

4) Even when we collect our keys, I am sure there will be defects and HDB will take some time to rectify the issues. Which will add in more waiting time.

5) After the defects are done, we need to renovate the house and this will again take time. By the time when everything is completed, we might have missed the Chinese New Year celebration where we would like our friends and family to visit us at our new house.

6) Lastly, do HDB give demerit points to ineffective contractors such as SUNHUAN who made the residents wait ? If all of us know this would happen, we would have went for the BTO which is across the waterway, their BTO project were later than us but all of them is already staying comfortably at the luxury of their new home, rather than us who have to pray and hope we can get our keys faster. SUNHUAN is also the main contractor for waterway banks and i am amazed their building were completed much earlier than ours.

HDB will continue giving the lowest bidding contractor for future projects and I sincerely wish the residents who got SUNHUAN as their contractor good luck.

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