HDB flats are iconic to Singapore, and mark the nation’s determination to provide affordable housing to all. What’s more is that most of us, about 82 per cent, live in them. But there remains some facts that we might not know, and may just change our perception of these humble but important blocks of our lives.
1. The Special Types of HDB Flats
HDB flats are often criticised as boring and homogeneous, some more premium versions of HDB flats might surprise you with their ingenuity. Firstly there are the HDB Terrace Houses, which resemble a typical terrace house in all aspects -- from the double levels to front porches with their own gates. These cute abodes were developed by SIT (Singapore Improvement Trust), the predecessor of HDB, and are incredibly rare. They exist mainly in Queenstown, Whampoa, and Jalan Bahagia, and were constructed around the 1960s. It’ll cost you around $600,000 to a million for one.
Next up we have the Jumbo HDB Flats. These expansive units were created when a bunch of unsold and adjacent 3 and 4-room flats were combined in the 1990s by HDB. Jumbo flats are unicorns -- with only about 485 units existing in Singapore.
The HDB Penthouse Maisonettes. Quite a mouthful to say, but they’re worth saying if you manage to snag one. Commonly found in Bishan, Pasir Ris or Hougang, these huge apartments were developed in the 1990s and can go up to 215 sqm. What’s more, being penthouses, they come with a sky garden with amazing views of the surrounding. Prices usually start from $800,000.
Normally seen around Keong Saik Road in Tiong Bahru, Post-War SIT Flats exude a vintage charm that reminds us of simpler times. Constructed in the late 1940s by the SIT, these old-school gems are actually mostly private, with only a few blocks categorised under the public housing scheme. These highly sought-after units have a 99-year lease, and go from $600,000 to $700,000.
Lastly we have the HDB Loft Units, double storey houses are characterised by high ceilings and airy, light-filled interiors. These units, which poster child include Treelodge@Punggol, typically go from $600,000.
2. These Are Chargeable Offenses:
Walking around nude while being exposed to public view, according to Section 27A of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act. Just draw the curtains, okay?
Another offense is, surprise, owning a cat. In practice it’s rare for this law to be enacted, however. Most HDB flats have their resident cats anyway.
This next one is less forgiving -- running a business larger than a certain scale. While it’s okay to help mend some clothes, you can’t be running a full-scale textile factory with more than two workers.
Lastly, since renting out flats require a tenant to stay for at least six months, it is illegal to rent out your flat or rooms on Airbnb. Doing this might result in losing your flats or suffering a fine.
3. Types of Defects
Human mistakes are sometimes unavoidable, so do check your flats after receiving your keys. According to HDB, all new HDB flats are provided with a 1-year defects liability period (DLP), effective from the date of sale. Before you start thinking about furniture, check for these common defects.
Hollow or uneven tiles can be detected by tapping on them and listening out for a hollow sound. Use a ruler to make sure the tiles are even and use your eagle eyes to look out for hairline cracks. Another common issue is cracked or slanted walls, which HDB will paint over even if you have done the renovations.
Lastly, make sure the window and doors all open smoothly, have no rusty parts and are aligned with their respective frames. Be sure to jot down all the defects with pictures and notes.
4. Feng Shui Matters
Whether you believe in Feng Shui or not, there’s not harm in learning what is considered good fortune in this ancient tradition. This three-and-a-half-thousand-years-old geomancy believes that higher is better since there is less people above you and thus creating lighter energy flowing through your flat. Could this be why higher floor units are normally more expensive?
Another thing Feng Shui believes is to avoid units facing the elevator as there are much energy passing through the “portal” which may disrupt the harmony of your house. Lastly, Feng Shui dictates that sharp objects pointing towards your main door is not good. For example, lamp posts or a neighbour’s clothes pole should not be facing your door, as it might direct negative energy to your unit.
5. Earlier Is Better
Did you know that buying a HDB flat as early as possible will grant you many advantages? That’s assuming you’re married of course. Firstly, this allows you to get more grants from the government. An example is the $50,000 worth of housing grants should you and your spouse’s combined income go from $4,001 to $4,500. However, if you climb the ladder and buy the house later, your income might rise and thus lowering your received grant. Another thing is that the faster you buy the flat the faster the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) will be over, meaning you can rent it out for additional income.
6. It’s About Numbers
By end 2017, HDB will have built over 1,148,936 dwelling units spread out over 10,645 blocks, which averages to 107.93 units per block. Does your block have less than 107 units? This might mean you are luckier than average because it might be less crowded.
Bukit Timah and Marine Parade has the least HDB dwelling units, while Jurong West, Tampines, and Woodlands have the most. The fastest growing HDB town in the past decade has been Punggol, Sengkang and Yishun, while areas like Bedok seem to have maxed out somewhat. Also, according to HDB’s 2018 Annual Report, the average family size is 3.1 residents per unit, which equates to 30 sqm per person. This has been an increase from 22 sqm per person in 2010.
Lastly, HDB home ownership peaked at 94 per cent in 2002, then fell to 90 per cent and have remained there till 2018. While these numbers might or might not help, they certainly are interesting and let us see our homes from a bigger perspective.
If you’re interested in HDB flats, be sure to check out our HDB Sales Listing by click here: https://www.srx.com.sg/hdb.