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HDB faces backlash for early key handover in Tengah despite incomplete centralised cooling system installation

Several early residents in Tengah express frustration over delayed installation of the centralized cooling system in their new flats.

Despite incomplete installation, keys were handed over, sparking online criticism over prioritizing deadlines at the expense of residents’ rights.

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SINGAPORE: Several early residents in Tengah express frustration over delayed installation of the centralized cooling system in their new flats.

Despite incomplete installation, keys were handed over, sparking criticism over prioritizing deadlines at the expense of residents’ rights.

For instance, Julie Tan, a resident in the Plantation Acres project, had to postpone her flat renovations for more than half a month as the centralised cooling system was not yet installed when she collected her keys in Nov last year.

Ms Tan, 49, shared her shock upon learning from SP Group, the company managing the cooling system in Tengah town, that the installation process would take an additional two to four weeks.

She expressed her disappointment in an interview with The Straits Times (ST) on 13 Dec 2023, stating, “We were hoping to move in before Chinese New Year, but it has to be delayed as we can start renovation only after it is installed.”

Another affected resident, Mr Chiam, decided to cancel his contract with SP after learning about the installation delay.

However, despite the cancellation being prompted by the delay, he received an invoice for a cancellation fee of about $800. He had emailed SP to request a waiver of the fee but has not received a response.

At least seven households in one block in the Plantation Acres project have been affected, according to ST.

SP Group and the Housing Board confirmed that the installation was incomplete for “a handful” of units.

An SP spokesman attributed the delay to an accelerated construction schedule by HDB, which led to their installation partner, Daikin, being unable to complete the installation of the fan coil units (FCUs) before the key collection date.

Plantation Acres, initially scheduled for completion in the second half of 2022, faced delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the incomplete installation, keys were handed over to residents to adhere to the committed completion date.

An HDB spokeswoman explained that although SP needed more time, HDB prioritized handing over keys to homeowners by the committed completion date to allow them to move in as soon as possible.

SP Group assured that usage charges would be waived during the additional four weeks needed for installation after key collection.

Tengah, known as Singapore’s first eco-friendly and car-lite “forest” town, is the first HDB estate to offer a centralised cooling system as an option for homeowners.

The system uses chilled water to remove heat, distinguishing it from conventional air-conditioning units.

This delay comes after previous reports of teething problems with the cooling system, with some residents expressing dissatisfaction with the system’s cooling efficiency.

Additionally, a petition in Nov requested a reduction in the chilled water usage rate, which SP subsequently adjusted to 13.2 cents per kilowatt-hour refrigeration from 1 Jan.

Online community reacts to Tengah BTO’s key handover and CCS installation delays

Several comments across platforms like Facebook imply that HDB might have expedited key distribution to avoid penalties for late delivery.

A suggestion emerged for homeowners to cancel SP’s CCS installation and opt for personal air conditioning units.

Residents voiced frustration, labelling the situation a “classic case” of meeting key performance indicators (KPIs) at the expense of residents’ concerns.

There’s a growing sentiment among users that ongoing construction post-key distribution is becoming a common occurrence in Tengah.

Tengah residents’ experience with CCS

Additionally, one user who is staying in Tengah shared their experience of having a CCS in their unit.

“Overall, I don’t have a good experience on CCS and fear the piping will leak with chilled water.”

“…at times, the air con is not cold in the middle of the night,” the user said.

He further suggested that SP and Daikin should collaborate closely and designate a single representative, as he consistently had to communicate with both SP and Daikin for any issues that required rectification.

Furthermore, the user disclosed that there are a few collective complaints on Telegram where residents are expressing concerns about their CCS leaking and dripping water.

Allegedly, even some units without a CCS installation experienced water leakage from the ceiling outside their homes.

In Oct 2023, Channel NewsAsia (CNA) reported that some Tengah flat buyers who had signed up for a CCS had indeed complained about issues with the CCS, ranging from the fact that it is not cold enough to condensation and leaks.

These homeowners have taken to Telegram chatgroups to discuss their concerns, with at least two videos circulating of water leaking from the cooling units in new flats.

A common complaint was that the airflow from the cooling system did not provide the same level of coldness as traditional air-conditioning units.

Several residents mentioned that, despite setting the temperature to 16 degrees Celsius, activating turbo mode, and setting the fan to maximum speed, the cooling system felt more like a fan than an air conditioner.

Others, however, noted that their systems eventually cooled down, and they were now content with the temperature.

For residents facing issues such as condensation or water leaks from their cooling units, SP Group assured them of a “systematic and convenient issues reporting and rectification process.”

Homeowners could use a QR code provided on an SP Group notice attached to their flats’ walls to report defects.

The notice outlined that issues would be assessed, and an appointment to address the defect would be scheduled by the next business day.

As of Oct 6, 2023, a spokesperson from SP Group stated that the majority of the feedback received has been resolved.

However, the response did not provide specific details about the nature of the feedback or the methods used to address the reported problems.

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What a living nightmare! Cooling system not completed upon handing over of the flat by HDB just so that the HDB can claim they have achieved their KPIs? Is this what the civil service is all about? Handing the keys to what is essentially an incomplete flat? So what if the cooling system was the responsibility of some contractor? What the the civil servants at HDB are saying is “it is SP Group and Daikin’s fault, go after them” And to add insult to injury, a person is being charged a cancellation fee. In his position, I would be banging… Read more »

Ruling government propaganda states that there will be 100K new flats in the next five years (Starting from 2023). Of course, 42,000 of those “flats” are actually Executive Condominiums, but we’ll ignore that for now. My guess is that they will miss that mark by a long-shot due to the continued shortage of migrant workers (So many GDP-inflating ‘renovations’ are still delayed such as the one at Chinese Garden). So the government bodies have no choice but to rush and “complete” some things ahead of schedule. Regardless of whether they are actually finished. Are you part of the 70%? Then… Read more »

green tech fail? and if they wanna cancel, still need to pay n pay even though the fault was with SP? VTO and open books of all GLCs.

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