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Expert cautions on new ‘white flats’: Flexibility may lead to higher costs and practical challenges

Property expert Ku Swee Yong expresses cautious optimism about HDB’s new ‘white flats,’ warning that while customizable, they may lead to higher renovation costs and practical challenges in maintenance.



In a significant shift from traditional flat designs, the Housing Development Board (HDB) is set to pilot a new type of “white flat” in a Build-To-Order (BTO) project in Kallang-Whampoa this October, as announced by National Development Minister Desmond Lee.

Speaking at the Pre-University Seminar at the National University of Singapore on Monday, Mr Lee mentioned that during the Forward Singapore exercise, young Singaporeans expressed a desire for more flexibility to configure the spaces in their homes based on their needs at different life stages.

“We took this idea back and worked with our architects and engineers to see what we could do,” he said.

Additionally, Mr Lee highlighted that young Singaporeans deciding to purchase a flat shortly after starting work or finishing national service would benefit from a lower initial down payment.

From the BTO sales exercise in June, the upfront down payment for couples eligible for the deferred income assessment will be lowered to 2.5 percent of the flat price, down from 5 percent, under HDB’s Staggered Downpayment Scheme.

The project in Kallang-Whampoa will include 80 three-room units and 230 four-room flats on a site near Lavender MRT station, bounded by North Bridge Road and Crawford Street.

These flats will feature an open layout with no internal partitions, allowing homeowners to customize their living spaces from scratch.

On May 27, HDB described this layout as offering homeowners a blank canvas to design and personalize their flats according to their needs and preferences.

According to a Facebook post by Mr Lee on Monday, bedroom walls were removed in 23% of four-room HDB flats between 2020 and 2022.

However, property market experts suggest that prospective buyers should weigh both the benefits and potential challenges of this new concept.

Speaking to Gutzy on the introduction of “white flats”, Ku Swee Yong, CEO of International Property Advisor Pte Ltd, expressed cautious optimism about the initiative.

“While the concept of a customizable flat may appeal to young couples entering the BTO queue, they should be mindful that the lower initial cost might translate into higher future expenses due to renovation needs,” Mr Ku.

He pointed out that individual homeowners do not benefit from economies of scale in interior renovations, which are typically more expensive when tailored to unique tastes.

The veteran property analyst also highlighted practical concerns that could arise from the flexible layouts.

“Consider the scenario where different activities take place directly above or below each other in adjacent flats,” Mr Ku explained.

“This could lead to noise complaints and other nuisances. Furthermore, the varying positions of walls, air-conditioning ducts, and pipes could complicate maintenance and repairs, potentially leading to higher costs.”

Mr Ku also touched on the implications for future resale values. “When these flats eventually hit the resale market, there might be significant challenges in determining their value. The diversity in interior configurations and the quality of renovations could make comparative valuations more complex, particularly if the Ethnic Integration Policy imposes additional constraints.”

In addition to the new flat type, Mr Lee assured that HDB would keep BTO flats affordable and accessible, noting that over 80% of first-timer families have a mortgage servicing ratio of 25% or less.

As the pilot project nears its launch, it remains to be seen how these innovative flats will reshape the landscape of public housing in Singapore.

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One wonder is the Regime tightening the Reserves spending, conservation for own uses, like MEGA Salaries Revisions, to embark to build for the future, starting with these – white (termite) flats, justifying listening to and acting on feedbacks – modern day cement structured multi storey CAVES.

And the maths is apparently this, CAVES selling at Million Dollars Future prices, like what LWong said, striving to fulfill dreams

Is the State Reserves so drastically low – EMPTY who knows – HDB continue to BLEED and BLEED, expenditures and expenses for public housing leads to cutting corners in this way.

This is OBVIOUSLY Very Very DESPERATE times PAP Administration is FACING and IMPOSING on Sheepland.

Sheeps DO NOT NEED to be TOLD the REAL REASONS for Cutting Corners – cannot be sand problem right?

Something MUST be COOKING based on cuisine.

Now the ruling government can sell you smaller HDB flats and you won’t notice the difference because there are no partition walls.

Amazing. Truly the ruling government is brimming with such incredible “talents.”

I’m sure couples and families will be thrilled to realise that having an open space does not imply limitless possibilities and such “white flats” are likely to be scams. Because the current way of constructing HDB flats means that many walls are actually load-bearing.

Just another “groundbreaking” and “earth shattering” idea/concept from this regime, … for another planet !!!

Amazing some of my comments are being “moderated”, but Gutzy seems unwilling/unable to screen off the persistent spams on money making.

Wow … so many spam comments. Terry needs to do something or the comments section will be overwhelmed with junk.

Wow, no odd-shaped walls. Finally HDB is learning. Or the illustration is “best case” (nice perfect rectangle), must wayang-wayang, hor.

The freaking HDB slum walls are already CARDBOARD and now even that on the pretence of making it sound like it was the buyers preference and new trend…the HDB would even not put such crappy wall anymore.
Save them cost on material,time and labor but sell at ever increasing prices!