Written Answer by Ministry of National Development on the inspection of HDB flats more than 40 years old and assistance to owners for maintenance works
Oct 20, 2022
Ms Joan Pereira: To ask the Minister for National Development whether the Ministry will consider mandating the inspection of HDB flats that are more than 40 years old and providing the necessary assistance to owners and tenants for the maintenance works as most of these flats have spalling concrete issues.
Flat owners are responsible for maintaining the interior of their flats, including checking and carrying out repairs for spalling concrete. Spalling concrete occurs when steel reinforcement bars embedded in concrete corrode due to the build-up of moisture and acids in the concrete over time. It is a natural wear and tear process, but can be minimized if owners take the following preventive measures:
a) Paint the ceiling regularly as a fresh coat of paint can act as a protective layer;
b) Seal up cracks or holes in the ceiling to prevent moisture and oxygen from entering the concrete;
c) Provide sufficient ventilation in the flat by opening the windows and doors, especially in wet areas like the kitchen and toilet; and
d) Repair any spalling concrete promptly and paint the repaired area to prevent the spalled portion from spreading over time.
2 There are inspection regimes already in place today that apply to HDB blocks including those over 40 years old. Under the Building Control Act, BCA requires regular inspections to be conducted on buildings by professionals under the Periodic Structural Inspection (PSI) regime and Periodic Façade Inspection (PFI) regime. These inspection regimes provide a structured approach to detect and rectify building deterioration in a timely manner.
3 Under the PSI, structural inspections must be conducted for all residential buildings every 10 years to ensure that building structures are well maintained. This includes inspections on units to check for spalling concrete and other issues such as structural cracks. For older flats completed before 1 Jan 1989, as a further safety measure, HDB goes beyond the requirements of the PSI regime and conducts additional inspections at 5-yearly intervals. Separately, under the PFI, façade inspections must be conducted for buildings that are above 20 years old and more than 13 metres in height every 7 years to ensure that building façades are well maintained.
4 Where necessary, HDB will provide assistance to flat owners to repair spalling concrete issues. Under the Goodwill Repair Assistance (GRA) scheme, HDB assists flat owners in arranging for repair works, and co-pays 50% of the cost of repairs for Singapore Citizen households. The affected flat owners bear the balance 50% of the repair costs, which is capped at $300 per flat. For rental flats, HDB bears the full cost for the repair of spalling concrete.
5 HDB also has the Home Improvement Programme (HIP) in place, for blocks built up to 1997, to systematically and pro-actively address common maintenance issues and provide improvements within flats to enhance the living condition of older flats. Repairs to spalling concrete and structural cracks in flats are covered under the HIP.