MONDAY 7 SEPTEMBER 2013 | BY SUMITA D/O SREEDHARAN | TODAY

SINGAPORE

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) is on track to build 13,600 new flats this year and the number will more than double next year to over 28,000, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said yesterday. But “more than just meeting numbers, HDB is also delivering quality flats to home buyers”, he reiterated.

Mr Khaw comments – which were posted on his blog — come as the construction industry continues to grapple with the tightening on foreign manpower. He had earlier given the assurance that the Government will be able to ramp up the supply of new flats over the next couple of years as promised because the HDB uses prefabrication construction, which allows flats to be built faster with fewer workers.

Nevertheless, representatives of construction companies whom TODAY spoke to said they were concerned about the sharp increase in new flat supply next year, compared to this year’s record number.

While the prefab method has reduced the reliance on foreign workers, they cited a shortage of manpower for certain positions, such as engineers and construction supervisors.

Declining to be named, they added that salaries for such jobs have surged and the wages could be unsustainable in the long run for construction companies.

Main contractors are under pressure to deliver HDB projects on time, especially with many national infrastructural projects concurrently going on as well as in the pipeline, they added.

In January, Mr Khaw had said, as part of the Government’s projections until 2016, that 28,471 new flats will be built next year.

He had also previously said that the ramped up supply of new flats was not sustainable and could slow down after 2015.

In his blog post yesterday, Mr Khaw cited Floral Spring @ Yishun as a “good example” of how HDB is delivering quality flats.

“This housing project is located in an infill site, surrounded by existing residential developments. Together, HDB and the contractors completed this project on schedule while minimising inconvenience to surrounding residents,” he said.

Despite the site challenges, the project achieved a high Construction Quality Assessment System score that is “comparable to (scores) achieved by condominiums”, he pointed out.

Yesterday, the main contractor of Floral Spring @ Yishun handed over the keys to HDB, marking the completion of 9,000 HDB flats this year.