Written Answer by Ministry of National Development on fixing defects due to design or construction flaws after Defects Liability Period

Nov 2, 2020

Assoc Prof Jamus Jerome Lim: To ask the Minister for National Development (a) whether HDB will consider defects that are identified after the expiry of the defects liability period but which clearly result from systematic design or construction defects by a single subcontractor to still fall within the scope of reasonable rectification action; and (b) whether HDB will consider availing funds under the Home Improvement Programme for cost-sharing between lessees that experience such systematic defects especially with demonstrated financial need.


It is not clear what the Member means by “systematic” design and construction defects. However, let me explain the general approach to defects in HDB flats.
Design and construction defects identified within one year of completion of the BTO flat will be repaired by the building contractor as part of their responsibility under the Defects Liability Period (DLP).  This is a standard industry practice for both public and private housing.  

For issues reported after the DLP, HDB will investigate the likely cause and advise flat owners on the follow-up action based on the specific circumstances of each case.  If the reported issues are caused by wear and tear, or a lack of proper maintenance, the costs of repair should be borne by the flat owners, as it is their responsibility to maintain and repair the fixtures and fittings of their flat.  Where it is clear from technical engineering assessments that the reported issue is attributable to the contractor’s workmanship or arises from a design issue, HDB will rectify the issue.  In HDB’s experience, issues arising many years after the DLP tend to be the result of wear and tear over time, much of which could be mitigated through regular maintenance.

Even though it is the home owners’ responsibility to maintain their flats, HDB introduced the Home Improvement Programme, or HIP, to help owners of older HDB flats to address common maintenance issues in such flats.  Currently, HIP includes items such as the repair of spalling concrete, and the repair of vertical wastepipes within the toilets if required. This is why we have certain age norms for blocks to be scheduled for HIP – currently those completed up to 1997.  HDB reviews the items included in the HIP periodically to ensure they remain relevant to the needs of residents.  

The HIP programme is scoped and budgeted to meet the cost of the items provided under HIP.  It is not intended to cover design or construction defects in general. As explained earlier, HDB has a separate process to deal with such issues. 

Flat owners who require financial assistance with household repairs can seek assistance from grassroots organisations and Community Development Councils.