Khaw tells HDB to build ahead of demand

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan has told HDB to build ahead of demand during this period of robust demand.

Writing in his ministry’s blog, Mr Khaw said the orders will definitely come, and HDB should call a tender as soon as architectural drawings and tender documents are ready.

Currently, a tender is called only after 70 per cent of orders have been confirmed – hence “Build-to-Order” (BTO) scheme.

The minister said HDB can return to the usual BTO approach after the situation has stabilised.

The move is a bid to help the vast majority of young couples own their own homes as soon as possible so that they can start their families and have babies.

It is a national priority – promoting marriages and births – and Mr Khaw said his ministry must facilitate it to its best ability.

Currently, 70 per cent of new couples get their first homes via HDB’s BTO (Build-to-Order) scheme. The rest purchase their flats in the resale market.

Mr Khaw felt there is scope to do more. He said: “I think we should strive to have the vast majority of new couples start off their first set of homes in HDB, preferably via the BTO route.”

He added that HDB will also ramp up capacity and bring forward projects scheduled for early next year.

HDB confirmed that it will be able to raise the number of BTO units from 22,000 to 25,000 units this year.

Mr Khaw said the new pace of construction will be sustained for next year, as there will be additional demand with the easing of the S$8,000 income ceiling for HDB flats.

While the pace is ramped up, the minister gave the assurance that the quality of finish, workmanship and worksite safety will remain good.

He said the industry need to rise to the challenge, without causing a cost spiral, which will not benefit the buyers.

Mr Khaw added that with more resources and capabilities, he is confident HDB will rise to the new challenge of housing Singaporeans in a first world setting.

He acknowledged that the task is huge and expectations high. He said time is needed to work through some of the constraints, but he has pledged to do his best not to disappoint the public.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 27 May 2011

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