No significant disruption in supply of building materials, BTO projects due to Ukraine crisis: Desmond Lee

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SINGAPORE — There have been no other significant disruptions in the supply of construction materials resulting from the Russian-Ukrainian conflict so far, and the progress of HDB Build-To-Order (BTO) projects has not was not affected, said National Development Minister Desmond Lee.

Mr. Lee replied in writing on Tuesday 5 April to a parliamentary question from Mr. Gan Thiam Poh (Ang Mo Kio GRC) asking what measures had been put in place to avoid delays in the construction of Housing Board apartments due to the increased cost of building materials resulting from supply chain disruptions and the current geopolitical crisis.

As prices for steel rebar and ready-mixed concrete rose by around 17% and 7% respectively, Lee said HDB has been working with its contractors to “upgrade their inventory existing building materials by purchasing them in advance to mitigate potential disruptions”.

“HDB is also closely monitoring building material prices and has worked hard to build resilience into our social housing program,” he added.

Mr. Lee said HDB has provided extensive assistance to help contractors complete ongoing BTO projects in a timely manner without affecting safety and quality.

Among the relief measures are extending the period of protection against steel price fluctuations and providing contractors with more concrete materials at protected prices. This is to help with the higher cost of materials.

Regarding labor shortages, HDB worked with companies to safely recruit workers from various countries and shared the cost of bringing in migrant workers.

Mr Lee also indicated that HDB is in the process of informing apartment buyers of the extent of delays to their apartments due to factors such as the Covid-19 pandemic, tighter border controls for workers foreigners and supply chain disruptions.

Currently, the median wait times for projects launched in 2020 and 2021 – after taking into account delays due to the pandemic – are around 4.5 years and 3.8 years respectively.

On average, the wait time for the 17 BTO projects completed in 2021 was 4.3 years, with seven developments experiencing delays of six months or less, while the longest delay was around 11 months.

“For current projects, we anticipate that most apartment buyers will be able to move into their new home within four to five years of booking their apartment, barring unforeseen circumstances,” Lee said.

He also noted that with the stabilization of the pandemic situation, the construction sector has started to show signs of improvement.

“Nevertheless, with further uncertainties such as the ongoing geopolitical crisis and potential supply chain disruptions, HDB is closely monitoring the prices of key building materials and remains ready to provide further assistance if needed,” a- he declared.

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