It took some time for the popularity of Build-to-Order (BTO) flats to pick up, but they’re definitely the talk of the town now. Long story short, the BTO initiative is a government effort to improve city planning and stabilize property prices. Too many empty flats and not enough buyers will cause prices will do that. Because a quick Google search will tell you what BTO HDB flats in Singapore are, this article will focus on tips for BTO renovation and interior design instead.
BTO homes are unique to our little Red Dot – but they are not exempt from mother nature. We all know how hot, hot, hot Singapore is, especially in the afternoon – and homes that face westward toward the noon sun heat up like ovens. While eastward facing flats do soak up the morning sun (circa 9am to 11pm, yup) and does get somewhat uncomfortably hot, the heat of the afternoon sun is in a whole different league of hotness.
Take a look at the weather report above. I kid you not, the difference in temperature between the mornings and the afternoon rises anywhere between 6-7 degrees Celsius. And the humidity will make you sweat. To make matters worse, concrete has a high thermal mass, which continues to radiate hot, hot heat throughout the night!
But if you’re out of luck and are the miserable owner of a domestic oven, there’s hope; blinds and non-conductive window panes. Blinds are great to blot out the afternoon sun while non-thermal conductive window panes can keep hot air out and cool air in, so be sure to consider putting that into your BTO renovation plan!
Because the flats are new, BTO renovation work usually does not involve replacing every door, tile and fixture. This is additional cost on top of the price of purchasing a resale flat, which tend to be pricier and old leases (a BTO will come with a brand new, 99-year leasehold).
With all that extra hacking and smashing out of the way, you can focus your attention (and money) on the things that you really want, such as an air-conditioner, feature wall or kitchen island. It’s better to start on a clean slate then try to fix a complete mess. Oh, did we mention that the unit’s piping and wiring might also need to be replaced? It’s time to contact your an interior designer company for a personalized quotation.
While many of us would appreciate a cooling breeze to flush out excess heat from our abodes, you might change your mind about purchasing a flat on the top floors – ‘might’ being the functional word. Also, think of what might happen if a new fault line in the Earth were to suddenly cut its way through Singapore in the future…
Dust, dust everywhere – We’ll start with that lovely breeze, or rather the stuff that it brings in. Notice how construction work always seems to be part of the landscape? If you’re unlucky enough have a busy construction site go up where you live then it’s going to spell about half a decade worth of air-polluting micro particles – all of which will be introduced into your home courtesy of the breeze.
And where there’s dust there be a lot of vacuuming and mopping to do. Yikes. Doom, doom, doom… here, have some charity: a few tricks to help keep your home (more) dust-free.
Clothes Will Fly – Literally. Strong winds tend send light fabrics (a.k.a. clothes) flying about the place with infuriating consistency. Since the weather in Singapore does not warrant the absolute need for moving air to facilitate the drying of clothes, life would be simpler sans wind. Think of the number of times you’ll have to rush down to the ground floor to retrieve clothes that had fallen off?
It’s More Expensive – As you’d expect, stacking block after block of concrete and steel is going to get more and more expensive. And guess who’s responsible for paying for the extra cost? Why, you the buyer, of course! Heads-up; the difference in price between a unit on the lower levels and one at the top can range anywhere from $10,000 to $70,000 – that’s a lot of money!
Fresh Air! – The good news is that air tends to be fresher the higher up you go. One of the biggest benefits that comes to mind instantly is that you’d be spared the worst of an accidental chemical aerosol release (well, accidental or intentional).
While it might take a long time for a BTO flat to be completed, but the good news is that they are subsidized by the government. To encourage more people to buy new homes (and replace old ones), buyers of BTOs are eligible to receive an Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG) of up to $40,000, how much of which depends on the buyer’s income.
First-time buyers in the lower and middle-income earners are also eligible for the Special CPF Housing Grant (SPG) of up to $40,000. Couples who earn a combined household income of $4,000 who want to buy a 4-room flat in a non-mature estate will be eligible for a $55,000. That’s a nice discount (e.g. 55,000/310,000 x 100 = 17.7% discount).
Because construction only starts when a minimum order number of units has been reached, buyers of BTO flats will be in for a long wait (maybe 3 to 4 years). For a newly wedded couple, having to live in with parents while they wait can seriously cut into their privacy. Making alternative living arrangements is the only option if they want more privacy, and that usually means having to rent. A 3-room flat costs anywhere $2000 – $3000 a month.
However, you don’t have to sit around doing nothing. So while the contractors and construction workers do what they do, you can use this time to figure out the style you want your new home to be in (click here for interesting BTO renovation ideas). Remember – a mistake at this point could lead you and your family to certain chronic depressive doom. Have a nice day!