Property industry must raise standards

Singapore’s real estate industry should ascend to greater heights, particularly in terms of quality — the quality of construction supervision, finishing touches, and attention to detail, said Ku Swee Yong, CEO of Century 21 Singapore.

He noted that while Singapore has witnessed improvements in the quality of a few of the largest residential developments during the past 10 years, overall standards have not really improved by much. “Today, we see more and more residential properties completed with shoddy workmanship, even within prestigious developments in the luxury districts,” he said.

“Some defects are not obvious at the handover and may remain hidden for more than a year. For example, sloppy waterproofing will lead to seepage or sewerage issues, and poor installation of dry partition walls will reveal cracks after more than a year.”

Poor workmanship has been spotted not only in private residential developments, but increasingly, also in public housing, with residents complaining of cracked walls, narrow corridors, leaks, uneven flooring and overflowing toilets, among others.

Although Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee explained that the majority of the defects raised by residents were surface imperfections which do not affect the structural integrity of the building, Ku believes that Singapore’s real estate industry “should have advanced well beyond the basic assumption that buildings here have solid structural integrity”.

“Uneven flooring and badly laid tiles do not affect the safety of buildings, but they do not provide comfort for home users, and may lead to future expenses and other burdens. If developers and construction companies take pride in the quality of their work and build solid homes that last for generations, surface defects may not even exist.”

With this, Ku proposed that the real estate industry set modest aims. “Instead of thinking about what we might achieve in the next 50 years, let us aim to improve the quality of our new buildings over the next decade. As for completed buildings, we should up the ante; spend more energy and money to maintain our condominiums,” he said.

“From the external environment — such as security, waste management, facilities, parking and landscaping — to interior spaces within each apartment and house, we need to embed design elements that allow homes to be constructed and finished with high quality. We should carefully consider material specifications for new homes with low-maintenance requirements.”

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