When Joe Chung got married in 2021, he and his wife were looking forward to moving into a Built-To-Order (BTO) flat in Punggol.
However, their plans were disrupted by the onset of Covid-19 — which also caused an unexpected delay in the collection of keys for their four-room HDB unit in Waterway Sunrise II.
The 35-year-old, who works in the banking sector, told AsiaOne on Saturday (Mar 4): “It was quite disappointing as we were looking forward to getting our flat.”
The frustrated newly-weds then decided to “maintain a boyfriend-girlfriend” arrangement in view of the circumstances.
“We basically do everything together, but we sleep in our [parents’] homes,” he said.
Thankfully, both of their parents live near each other in Serangoon Gardens.
“We didn’t really want to squeeze [together in either of our parents’ homes] because we work from home.”
Although they did consider renting a place, the couple were deterred by the high rental rates.
“We also did think about pulling out [from this BTO project] and getting a resale, but we thought that by the time all the administrative work was done, the flat would already be ready.”
When the Chungs applied for their flat back in February 2017, they were expecting to receive their keys in 2022.
However, they only did so in January this year.
“We just finished our rectification works, so renovations will start this month,” said Chung, who added that he hopes to move in by July or August.
HDB to reimburse $5.1 million to flat buyers
To compensate the Chungs and their neighbours, the Housing Development Board (HDB) announced on Saturday that they would reimburse some $5.1 million to nearly 900 buyers affected by the delay under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act (COTMA).
Giving an update on the project on Saturday, HDB said it has completed all seven blocks in the project, which comprises 1,014 units, of which 951 have been booked.
The estimated reimbursement amount for the affected flat buyers ranges from $1,000 and $10,500, and the average reimbursement sum would be $5,750.
The reimbursement sum varies, depending on the selling price of the flat and the length of delay beyond the delivery possession date, which is the legal contractual date by which HDB must hand over the flat to buyers.
In total, 896 households that had booked their flats by October 2021 are eligible for reimbursements.
For their $280,000 4-room unit, the Chungs will receive $6,500 in compensation, which will go towards paying for their new home’s appliances.
“[The money] does help but if you asked me whether I would choose the compensation or the delay, I would prefer to get my flat,” he said.
All blocks completed, most have received keys
Since December 2022, all seven blocks of the Waterway Sunrise II BTO project have been completed.
And some 58 per cent of the 951 buyers have also collected the keys to their new homes.
The remaining buyers can expect to receive their keys by end-March.
While visiting the completed site on Saturday afternoon, Minister for National Development Desmond Lee shared that nine out of 10 BTO projects were delayed as a result of the pandemic.
“But as of January this year, we brought it down to four out of 10 because of the close collaboration and handing over the keys to families.”
Lee also shared that HDB delivered 200,000 keys to buyers, and is looking to deliver another 200,000 keys this year, “barring unforeseen circumstances”, which includes the delivery of 8,000 keys by the end of March.
Besides the Chungs, another couple who recently received the keys to their new home is the Pangs, who also bought a four-room HDB unit.
Daryl Pang told AsiaOne that he and his wife, Ivy Chua, wanted to get married within the five-year waiting time, but were forced to change their plans due to the project’s delay.
While waiting for their new home to be completed, the Pangs ended up staying with his parents, and later his in-laws.
Now that they’ve collected their keys, Pang said they’re hoping to complete their renovations and move in by May, just in time for his wife’s birthday.
He also shared that the $7,000 reimbursement they will receive from HDB will go towards covering some of their renovation costs.
Although the past two years have been “challenging” for the couple, Pang said: “The silver lining is that we’ve gotten to know ourselves better, and we overcame it.”