How does HDB rectify defects in newly completed flats?
HDB has a system in place to ensure that the quality of its new flats meet acceptable industry standards. We abide by a clear set of guidelines and impose quality checks at every stage of construction, including pre- and post-construction.
For example, contractors are required to inspect completed flats and carry out the necessary rectification works to the full satisfaction of HDB’s quality officers, before handing the flats over to HDB. Despite the stringent process, some minor imperfections may still remain due to the inherent features of natural materials or the nature of construction works that are dependent on manual labour.
As part of our commitment to quality, we provide all new HDB flat owners with HDB’s Assure 3 warranty coverage for ceiling and external wall seepage, and spalling concrete. This is in addition to the 1-year Defects Liability Period (DLP) for all new property owners to report defects for rectification, a timeframe similar to private sector developments.
HDB advises new flat owners to inspect their flat and report any defects to their development’s Building Services Centre (BSC) within the DLP. During this period, the BSCs are conveniently located near the new flats for owners to report the defects for prompt follow up by the contractors. Subsequently, flat owners can report any defects to their HDB Branch.
In general, defects reported are rectified within two weeks. In cases where the contractor requires more time, for reasons such as unavailability of materials, flat owners will be informed of the expected completion date.
The issue of defects rectification can be made more trying and complex when there are differences in understanding and expectations. An imperfection may be seen as a defect, and this usually happens with home owners who expect their new flat to be in pristine condition. While this is understandable, adopting zero tolerance towards defects and imperfections is not a reasonable expectation.
A recent encounter with a flat owner over the level difference between the floor tiles in his new flat is a case in point. While the level difference between the floor tiles in his flat had met industry standards, he found it unacceptable despite several rounds of rectification, as he expected the laid tiles to be perfectly even.
Some flat owners may also report ‘defects’ that are actually imperfections that arise from the nature of the product or manufacturing process. For example, for floors with timber finishes, some owners have given feedback on the colour inconsistencies. As timber is a natural, organic product, the shade and grain of each strip of the timber will vary. It is thus not possible to achieve a perfectly homogenous look.
In the case of ceramic floor tiles, some owners have reported the gaps between the tiles as ‘defects’. These gaps are not defects as such. Ceramic tiles are produced at high temperatures and the tiles will shrink upon cooling. The extent to which each tile shrinks may vary slightly. To accommodate the slight variations in dimensions, the tiles are laid with gaps in between, and cement grout is used to fill these gaps.
We acknowledge that there are times when defects may still remain despite everyone’s best efforts. HDB will make good on the defects caused by manufacturing lapses, or when the work is not up to standard. There are prevailing industry standards and practices which serve as objective arbiters for both public and private developments in cases of doubt and dispute.