The pandemic hasn’t been a great time for homeowners. What’s with the BTO construction and renovation delays caused by the restrictions associated with Covid-19, many homeowners are left stranded as to what they should do.

We lay out a few options.

What to do when my BTO is delayed?

Image courtesy of Victor on Unsplash

Give up your BTO

Typically, giving up your BTO flat once you have paid the option fee or signed the lease agreement will garner a financial penalty. This penalty will cost between $500 to $2,000 (the option fee depending on the size of your flat) or 5% of your BTO’s purchase price if you have already signed the lease agreement.

This is on top of a one-year wait-out period before you are allowed to buy another BTO or a resale flat with grants.

However, HDB has announced back in July 2021 that they will consider waiving the two penalties for BTO buyers affected by construction delays.

All you need to do is to submit an appeal at [email protected] and HDB will assess your situation on a case-by-case basis.

Sounds simple enough. But there isn’t a guarantee that you will get the approval. It also means you need to start house-hunting again all while waiting for that approval, which presents a neither-here-nor-there scenario.

And with resale flats at an all-time high, this may not be the most cost-effective time to get a resale flat anyway. Alternatively, you can look at the pool of sale of balance flats available.

Rent elsewhere in the interim

If it’s inconvenient to stay with family members or relatives while waiting for your BTO, consider renting a place in the meantime.

An affordable option would be to rent a flat from HDB under the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS). There are certain eligibility requirements, like ensuring that one of you must be a first-timer applicant and making sure your monthly household income doesn’t exceed $7,000.

Monthly rental rates can go for $600 for a 3-room flat in Sembawang to $900 for a 3-room flat in Tiong Bahru. Note that PPHS is open for application in the even months of the year (Feb, Apr, Jun, Aug, Oct, Dec) and the window for application is the first two weeks of that month.

Information courtesy of HDB

Visit this page to see the flats available for application under PPHS and this page to submit your application.

If you don’t meet the criteria to rent a flat under PPHS, you can always rent from the open market, although this is a much pricier option. A 3-room flat in central Bishan can go for upwards of $2,000, similar to the rental rates of a 5-room flat in central Choa Chu Kang. In contrast, expect to pay about $4,200 and $3,000 in rent for a 3-bedder condo in Bishan and Choa Chu Kang respectively.

Note that there needs to be a minimum rental period of 6 months if you are renting an HDB flat or a bedroom in an HDB flat. This is 3 months for private property rentals.

A third option would be to rent a co-living space. Most of the options available in Singapore are located in decent locations, with a majority situated in CBD districts. Some also offer shorter leases, such as a month, to give you more flexibility in your planning.

Communal areas like the kitchen and lounge rooms are typically shared in a co-living space, while you get your own private bedrooms. Some include private bathrooms, although shared bathrooms will help you save more.

MyPoshPad’s Vagabond Club classic room at Jalan Besar is going for $3,600 per month, while an executive suite at the heart of Orchard Road will cost you $2,000 per month with Hei Homes. Other co-living spaces to consider include Hmlet, Figment, The Assembly Place, Lyf and gnômadic.


The communal space at one of the Hei Homes.

The appeal to them, besides their cool locations and chic, hipster-fied interiors, is the communal aspect i.e. meeting people from different walks of life. Some communal living spaces also organise events that are meant to foster the community spirit. If your introvert nature is screaming, co-living spaces probably aren’t for you.

What to do when my renovations are delayed?

Image courtesy of The Local Inn.terior

Consider off-the-rack materials, furniture and fittings

Rather than go with customised furniture or imported materials and fittings, consider getting ready-stock, off-the-shelf pieces that will help you cut down on waiting times. This will speed things along in your renovation process and help you move in faster.

Reach out to these local shops for renovation materials and see our favourite online furniture and home decor stores in Singapore to furnish your home.

Commit to details early and minimise changes down the road

Another tip to cut down on an already delayed renovation is to make as little changes down the road as possible. Instead of flip-flopping on the details, commit to them early on to minimise wastage of materials and time needed to make changes and adjustments.

Are there design details you have forgotten to plan for? Here are 40 you should take note of.

Design: Upstairs x In-Expat

A good practice is to go down to the site yourself and check on the renovation work as it progresses. Periodic checks can help you anticipate the need to make changes before they are set in stone, so to speak, allowing your interior designer or contractor to quickly make the alterations.

Rent a self-storage facility and find alternative accommodation

In the scenario that you are forced to vacate your current home before your new home’s renovations are done, you may need to rent a self-storage facility for all your belongings. Choose from options like StorHub, Store Friendly and Mandarin Self Storage.

Self-storage facilities offer different sized storage units so you can get one that fits all your items. Most will require you to commit to at least one month, although there are facilities like Lock and Store that has a minimum storage period of two weeks.

Some provide 24/7 access, while other offer pick-up services and even include packing boxes. For temperature sensitive things like wine, you may want to consider special storage units. Over at Extra Space Asia, they have wine cellars and lockers equipped with double door insulation for consistent temperature and humidity.

Prices vary depending on your storage size and how long you are planning to rent the unit for. At Spaceship, an 80-square foot unit will cost you $230 a month, while an air-conditioned storage unit at Work+Store in its Ang Mo Kio go from $372 per month.


A storage unit at Spaceship.

Once your belongings are tucked away safely, find suitable accommodation for yourself. Renovation delays may only be for a couple of months, so your options are bunking in with relatives or renting from co-living spaces, hotels and serviced apartments, which allow for shorter leases.

There are places that offer “renovation staycations”. Oakwood, for instance, has a Renocation Escapade package, which is available as weekly or monthly stays. They provide weekly breakfast, unlimited laundry service as well as twice weekly housekeeping services.

Move in first

We wouldn’t recommend this option unless you absolutely have to and you don’t have kids or the elderly with you, because the constant drilling and dust from renovation works wouldn’t make for a very pleasant stay.

But if you must, make sure there is always a room available for you to stay in, preferably with a lock for privacy and safety. Keep windows open constantly to allow fresh air to flow through. Ensure that you always have access to electricity, the bathroom and wifi. Plan this with your interior designers or contractors. Keep only the essentials with you and store everything else in a storage facility.

Some essentials to have with you:

Induction cookerElectric kettleToaster oven/microwave ovenPhone chargersLaptopFanAir purifierFoldable mattressChange of clothes and towelsToiletries and grooming essentials

Get large plastic sheets to contain dust as best as you can, although it will be nearly impossible to keep them away completely.

Do more research and source for cheap lobangs

Have time to wait out the delayed renovations? Lucky you. But instead of twiddling your thumbs or expressing your frustrations on social media, take the time to do more research on your renovation and nail down those nitty-gritty details.

Our platform has a wealth of resources. Don’t know where to start? See here.

Now that you have some time because of the renovation delays, source for cheaper furniture and fittings from places like Taobao that will help trim your budget. The extra time you have will also allow you to accommodate the time needed for overseas shipping.

How are you affected by the delays? Share your frustration with us in the comments.

 

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