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Inclusion of delays caused by the pandemic the average wait time for ongoing Build-to-Order projects (BTO) has remained between 4 and 5 years, stated Desmond Lee, National Development Minister, in Parliament on Tuesday (5 Oct).

He said that most flat buyers will be able to move in their flats within four- to five years, assuming there are no unexpected developments.

He pointed out that BTO projects started in 2020 and this years are waiting times that range from 3 to 5.5 Years.

Hougang Zirine, Alkaff Breeze, in Bidadari, have waiting periods of more than three years. Garden Court @ Tengah, on the other hand, has a waiting period of about 3.5 years.

Some projects, like Queen’s Arc are expected to take longer, at approximately 5.5 years.

Lee explained that this is due to the difficult site conditions, and construction will be slower, or because these are projects with very tall storey-heights which require more construction time.”

These concerns have led some to be concerned that new BTOs would take between six and seven years to complete. These are rare.

Lee was responding to Cheryl Chan Wei Ling (Member of Parliament), who asked if disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic would affect the previously estimated timelines for BTO projects.

The minister replied that the government’s support measures had helped to keep the delays caused by the pandemic to BTO projects to a minimum of one year.

Except for one project, he stated that it had “been experiencing project difficulties unrelated the pandemic”.

The total time taken to complete BTO projects is now less than six years.

Housing and Development Board (HDB), has implemented measures to “help contractors finish ongoing projects in a timely fashion”.

This involves helping companies to secure workers from other countries, and also sharing in the rise in manpower costs.

To reduce work disruptions caused by virus transmission, it also implements antigen rapid testing (ART), as well as rostered routine tests (RRT) on worksites.

Lee stated that HDB extended the protection period against price fluctuations in steel and provided contractors with concrete materials at lower prices to help offset the increased cost of materials.

HDB has helped flat buyers who are in need of interim housing, he stated, adding that the supply under the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS) will increase by 800 units over the next two-years.

Lee stated that HDB may offer Interim Rental Housing (IRH), for low-income households without family support or other housing options.

Flat buyers that experience delays beyond their Delivery Possession Dates (DPD) will receive compensation at the amount and for a period set forth in the COVID-19 Act (Temporary Measures) Act, which is applicable to all developers.

HDB may also waive flat booking forfeitures and the one-year waiting period. This is based on the circumstances flat buyers have, for example, those who cancel their BTO Flats dues delays and opt to purchase a resale Flat “to meet their immediate housing needs”.

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