Getting the keys to your new BTO flat is one of the important milestone in everyone’s lives. It is natural that new homeowners would want to quickly kick-start the renovation and furnishing works and move into their new abode.
Is it ok to skip the defects inspection and go straight to renovation?
Do you know that no matter how well-built a house is, there will invariably be some workmanship defects? This is because the various works involved in the construction of a house depend on the skills and experience of the workers executing the works and the level of quality control that they impose on their works. Furthermore, your home is probably the largest monetary investment you will ever make. It is therefore important that you inspect your house for defects and learn as much as you can about the condition of your house. Here are some important points that you may also want to consider before you jump straight into renovation: Defects rectification is free!
- All genuine defects found within the defects liability period (DLP) can be rectified by the BSC and main contractor at no cost to you.
It is better to get defects rectified before you start renovation works.
- Some defects are harder and costlier to rectify after the completion of renovation works. Early detection and repair of these defects prior to renovation works will save you a lot of inconveniences and headaches.
In addition, once you have external contractors doing works in your house, your BSC and main contractor may be less willing to rectify newly reported cosmetic damages because there is a possibility that your contractors might have created these new damages.
How do you get started on defects inspection?
- Understand what defects are Not everything that bothers you is a defect. Some could be inherent imperfections or manufacturing constraints. Try to google for defects-related materials and read up. There are many BCA publications with photo illustrations on poor workmanship and defects which you can find in the internet.Most building projects in Singapore are constructed based on the guidelines set out in BCA CONQUAS manual. You can also download the manual from BCA website to understand the prevailing quality standards and acceptable tolerances for the various workmanship defects in your house.
- Work out the areas to check There are many defects checklists circulating online, listing out the things and locations to check for defects. Some are prepared by well-intended home owners while some are shared by defects inspection companies. Contrary to common belief, these checklists are not exhaustive and your inspection will not be thorough if you follow these lists blindly.
A more comprehensive way to inspect your BTO flat is to subdivide it into 7 main groups:
- Internal Walls,
- Mechanical & Electrical (M&E) Fittings, e.g. electrical points, DB, plumbing, sanitary and drainage,
- Other components, e.g. service closet door panels and frame.
For each group of items, there are 4 main types of defects to be identified:
- Missing items,
- Cosmetic damages.
If you scrutinise your whole house using the above fundamental approach, your chances of overlooking any part of your house is slim.
- Get the right tools to inspect your house
Many online articles have provided wrong advice on the kind of tools which can be used for defects inspection. Unsuitable tools which unfortunately have been advocated by online articles include:
- Marbles and coins for checking tile hollowness, [There are standard tile testers or tapping rod for checking tile hollowness. The density of marble / coin and the metal ball of the tile tester are different and what may sound hollow when tapped with a tile tester may sound differently when impacted with a marble.]
- Masking tape for marking our defects, [Masking tape leaves behind stubborn stains and may cause paint and powder coating to peel off when left unremoved for long period of time.]
- Torch light for checking wall finishes. [Wall finishes are to be visually inspected against natural sunlight, in line with CONQUAS guidelines.]
So what are the right tools? Below are a list of hand tools used by BCA CONQUAS Assessors for your reference:
- 2m spirit level
- Tile tester
- Try square
- Document the defects you find Mark out all the defects you find and use the HDB defects feedback form to record these defects. The nature and exact location of every defect needs to be clearly recorded so that there is no misinterpretation by the BSC.The completed defects forms need to be submitted within 7 days of receiving keys or before you start renovation works to your flat. You can submit online at http://www.hdb.gov.sg/rectification or submit in person to your BSC
- Join your project Facebook group Almost every new residential project in Singapore have facebook groups which owners can join. Find your project groups and join them. In these groups, your neighbours will be sharing various defects found in their houses, as well as good deals such as group buys, etc. Don’t miss out on these useful information.
Know your rights for defects rectification
HDB provides all new HDB flat owners with:
- 1-year Defects Liability Period (DLP) during which defects reported are rectified within 14 days by the project contractor. If more time is needed, for example where materials may not be immediately available, the BSC will inform you of the expected completion date.
- HDB’s Assure 3 warranty coverage for ceiling leak, external wall seepage, and spalling concrete:
|Ceiling leak at toilets/kitchen||5 years*|
|Water seepage from external wall||5 years|
|Spalling concrete||10 years|
*The warranty for ceiling leak will cease if floor tiles have been changed; or if the waterproofing system has been tampered with.
Engage a professional defects inspection company
Sounds like a tough job to inspect your house? Fret not! If you do not have the knowledge, time or resources to do the inspection, there are professionals out there to help you. Be sure to check the credentials and technical background of the defects inspection company because defect inspection business is not regulated by the Government. There are also no licensing, accreditation nor registration schemes in place to ensure that every inspector in the market are competent to inspect houses. In fact, there are many bogus inspectors posing as “professional” inspectors to offer service to unsuspecting homeowners, who have no way to verify whether a proper inspection has been done on their expensive property. To our best knowledge, there are two inspection companies in Singapore using professionally trained inspectors, i.e. Inspect First (Singapore) Pte Ltd and Absolute Inspection Pte Ltd. Many companies may assure home owners that their inspectors are BCA-certified or BCA-registered. Do exercise caution because BCA currently does not certify nor register defect inspection companies or defects inspection services. There are 1-day / 3-day CONQUAS training courses offered by the BCA Academy. Attending such courses do not make any person a qualified defects inspector instantly. One will still need technical knowledge and clock enough inspections over time in order to acquire the site experience to be a competent inspector. This article is contributed by Absolute Inspection Pte. Ltd. Check them out at www.absoluteinspection.sg