When the Singapore circuit breaker measures were announced in April, many homeowners were left in a bind. All renovation and construction works were to be paused unless deemed essential.
This meant that those who had recently bought homes and were in the midst of moving had to either 1) move into half-completed homes, 2) apply for a temporary extension of stay, or 3) look for alternative interim accommodation.
None of the above situations are ideal but most ended up with option 1, because the latter two would incur additional rental costs. Thankfully, to the relief of many, the Government finally announced that some of these measures will be lifted starting 2 June, in phase one of the reopening.
If you’re an affected homeowner, here is everything you need to know about resuming renovation works in phase one, post-circuit breaker.
Post-circuit breaker, can you immediately resume renovation works after 2 June 2020?
First things first, not everyone will get to magically hit the “resume” button. The circuit breaker measures will be lifted gradually, in 2 stages. For the initial stage (after 2 Jun), incomplete home renovation projects will be prioritised.
That means that if you were in the middle of some works that could not be completed before 9 April 2020, you can continue.
Unfinished renovation works are the first to resume, but expect delays
That said, even though it’s now allowed, don’t be surprised if restarting your renovation projects doesn’t go as smoothly and efficiently as you’d like. Works could still be delayed as there are many new and stringent safety requirements for contractors to adhere to. The labour crunch doesn’t help either.
What about new projects that haven’t started, but were slated to begin works during circuit breaker?
According to Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, the recommendation is to defer new projects (i.e. those that were planned, but have not yet commenced works). Contractors should prioritise completing those that were disrupted in April.
However, it doesn’t seem like a hard and fast rule. During his parliament address, he also added that the government will consider allowing new projects to begin if the contractors are able to show that they have proper measures in place and the manpower to support it.
New projects should be deferred, but may be allowed on a case-by-case basis
In short: if you have managed to find an acceptable interim arrangement and can afford to wait a little longer, you should. But if there is an urgent need and your contractor has the resources to take on your project, you can appeal to the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and hope for the best.
If you still can’t resume renovation works, what options do you have?
As mentioned, even if you do get approval to continue renovation works, your move-in timeline may still be delayed. Here’s what you can do if you are affected:
Look for short-term rental arrangements
Officially, there is no change to the rules. The minimum rental period is 6 months for HDB flats and 3 months for private properties. If that is not suitable for you and you urgently need a roof over your head, you can present your case to HDB and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), who are considering appeals on a case-by-case basis.
Apply for a temporary extension of stay
If you recently sold your flat and were supposed to move out of your old home and into your new one during the circuit breaker, you can apply for a temporary extension of stay.
Do note, however, that this is a private agreement between you (the seller) and the new homeowners (the buyer). Both parties must agree to it before you submit the request to HDB, and you can only stay for up to 3 months after the resale completion.
Aside from the above, the government has also said that they are looking into whether affected homeowners can move in with their friends and family in the meantime. They’ve also worked with service apartment operators to offer lower rates to those who urgently need a place to stay.
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