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SINGAPORE: More than half of the Build-To-Order (BTO) projects delayed by the pandemic have been completed, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) said on Saturday (Jan 28).

The 52 completed projects represent about 55 per cent of the delayed developments over the last two years, said CEO Tan Meng Dui.

“This project completion rate exceeds the pre-COVID norms and is in fact the highest for HDB in the past five years,” he said in a press release.

He promised that over the next two years, HDB will continue to minimise delays of BTO projects.

In 2021, the proportion of projects delayed beyond their estimated completion date was more than 90 per cent, but this has been reduced to about 40 per cent of current ongoing projects, said HDB in its update on Saturday.

Some examples of the delayed projects that were completed are Northshore Edge in Punggol, and three projects that were affected when their contractor had financial difficulties – Senja Ridges, Senja Heights and Sky Vista @ Bukit Batok.

HDB did not provide the number of delayed projects still under construction currently. As of April last year, the number of BTO projects delayed by six months or more was 58 projects, which was less than 60 per cent of all projects, it was earlier reported.

In an update last week, it said that 94 HDB projects were still under construction, including projects that were not delayed by COVID-19.

HDB said that the delivery of the BTO projects comes on the back of the improving COVID-19 and migrant manpower situation, as well as “strong assistance and support” given to the construction industry.

“Even as we catch up on the works, HDB is committed to safety and has been working closely with our consultants and contractors to put in place procedures at worksites to ensure the safety and health of our workers,” the agency said.

HDB also explained that the construction time for different projects can vary due to the characteristics of the site and the project complexity.

Project complexity can depend on several factors including the number of blocks and units, height of the blocks, and additional design features like staggered block heights, sky terraces or basement car parks.

The construction is also likely to be longer for projects at infill or brownfield sites which are in built-up areas. Demolition works would first have to be carried out in infill sites to prepare the site for BTO construction.

They also tend to be near other homes and infrastructure so HDB needs to build “sensitively” to minimise disruption and disamenities to the local community, it said.

Sites near an underground train station or railway reserve zone also involve additional processes to safeguard existing infrastructure.

“With more BTO flats launched at infill/brownfield sites and intensification of BTO blocks to maximise housing yield, there may be more complex BTO projects which will take a longer time to construct over the coming years,” HDB said.

For example, a project like Tampines GreenJade, which is not considered complex and is located at a site that had not previously been developed, has a waiting time of 3.6 years. A complex project like Central Weave @ AMK, which is in a build-up area, has an estimated waiting time of five years.

But there are also projects with shorter waiting times, which HDB said it aims to launch more of, subject to site availability and readiness.

Among the BTO projects that were not delayed, the first to be completed is a shorter waiting time project scheduled for the first quarter of 2023.

Keat Hong Verge in Choa Chu Kang, launched in the second half of 2020, will have one of the shortest BTO waiting times of 2.1 years, said HDB.

Delivery of the first block has started and the remaining two blocks are “on track” to meet the completion date, said HDB.

HDB will also use new technologies in BTO projects, like Garden Waterfront I & II @ Tengah, to improve construction productivity, it said.

It aims to achieve a 25 per cent improvement in site productivity for this project as compared to other BTO projects. The innovations will be studied for implementation in future BTO developments.