According to the Building and Construction Authority of Sigapore (BCA), construction quality for newly built Housing Development Board (HDB) flats has improved over the years.

Assessors from the BCA, who conduct inspections on different corners of the flat such as the quality of the home, its workmanship and whether it is safe to live in, use a scored checklist under the Construction Quality Assessment System (Conquas), which reflects the overall workmanship quality. The higher the Conquas score, which is upon 100, the better the workmanship.

The Conquas score takes into account structural works – for example, how safe the building is – and mechanical and electrical works.

Yet despite a recent spate of defects found in HDB homes, according to these assessors, the average Conquas score for HDB flats has improved from 65.7 when the scheme was first introduced in 1989, to 88.6 last year. Since 2008, the Conquas scores for public housing projects have been above 81. This means that HDB home quality has improved over the years.

To recap, residents in the HDB BTO project Waterway Terraces I in Punggol complained about rainwater seeping into their flats last month.

Residents in Design, Build and Sell Scheme projects such as Centrale 8 and Trivelis also complained of defects or design flaws like wall cracks and uneven or stained tiles on floors.

Project manager Andy Tan, 33, a resident at Trivelis, which has a Conquas score of 87.1, said: “This is very surprising, because my flat definitely had defects like scratches on the floor tiles before I moved in.

“I’m not sure how thorough the checks are.

“I feel there should be a penalty on top of this for errant developers, so hopefully they will be more careful in their work.”

The Ministry of National Development (MND) spokesman noted that there will be some “imperfections” due to “high dependency on workmanship of individual workers”.

There are also latent defects, and defects such as hairline cracks may surface only later due to “movement” such as vibrations from renovation works.

“For these reasons, a one-year Defect Liability Period is provided for all projects, to allow for rectification if necessary,” she said.

Common feedback includes uneven joints or gaps in between tiles, hairline wall cracks and colour inconsistency of timber flooring.

“These do not affect the structural integrity of the building, and can be rectified easily and quickly. (They) do not compromise the functionality or liveability of these homes,” she added.

“The high Conquas score is an affirmation that the quality of HDB flats has not been compromised despite the ramp-up of our building programme in the last few years.”

All public sector building projects with a contract sum above $5 million will undergo such checks. About one in four public homes gets checked directly.

She added that the HDB has a list of recommended building materials and equipment suppliers and contractors have to adhere to it. There are also audits and checks to ensure the work completed is consistent with the approved plans.

Conquas passing standards have also been raised over the years, including stricter assessment criteria, she noted.

There is no “rescoring”, which means the Conquas score is final. There is a list on BCA’s website.

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