It’s every homeowner’s worst nightmare. One day you’re enjoying the panoramic views of the surrounding neighbourhood, and the next, you discover that the empty patch of land next to your home is going to be developed into a new condo or HDB BTO flats.
The reality is that undeveloped land rarely gets to stay that way in Singapore. If there is a big field or plot of empty land next to your home, there is a high chance that the authorities will (if they haven’t already done so) eventually announce that it will be developed into blocks of high-rise homes.
Here’s what to expect and how to cope when a new condo or HDB block is about to pop up next door.
Dealing with noise pollution from construction
We’re sorry to break it to you, but you are going to be living next door to a construction site for a while. Before a neighbouring plot of land can be turned into a condo or block of HDB flats, it has to undergo years of building.
The first thing you will notice when construction commences is the noise pollution. The constant hammering and drilling is something that people in new non-mature estates like Punggol put up with all the time. Assuming there is only one nearby site being developed, you can expect to have to live with the construction for anywhere from two to four years, depending on how quickly the development gets built.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) has set out certain guidelines limiting the 1-hour continuous noise level to a maximum of 65 dBA from 7pm to 10pm, and 55 dBA from 10pm to 7am. 55 dBA is the volume of a normal conversation.
Furthermore, construction is not allowed from 10pm on Saturday till 7am on Monday, as well as from 10pm on the eve of a public holiday to 7am on the day after the public holiday.
If you are certain that the rules are being flouted, do not hesitate to contact NEA. All your neighbours will thank you.
Outside of these restrictions, there is not much you can do about the noise being generated by the construction site. Most of the work (and hence, noise) will happen in the day, which may not have been such a big deal if you were still spending most of your time in the office. However, with the new work-from-home norm, this is likely to be quite disruptive.
To help your household cope, you might want to consider investing in some soundproofing for your home, as well as noise-cancelling headphones.
Dealing with dust from the construction site
Construction generates a massive amount of dust, and if you are living in the vicinity, chances are high that your household will be affected. You might find large amounts of dust collecting daily on your floors and furniture, as well as a sharp decline in air quality.
Until construction is completed, cleaning may be necessary more frequently than usual and you can expect to double up on the vacuuming and mopping. It may be tempting, but don’t get lazy – letting the dust build up can be unhealthy as it reduces your household’s air quality.
To make cleaning less of a hassle, you might wish to reduce clutter and store your belongings in cupboards or drawers rather than leaving them exposed. Also keep your doors and windows shut wherever possible while construction is ongoing during the day, such as in unoccupied rooms or when nobody is at home.
Your air con filters should be cleaned and changed more regularly than before, so make it a point to check them more frequently.
You might also wish to invest in air purifiers with HEPA filters for your home if you are concerned about the air quality.
NEA has set out some guidelines for the prevention of dust nuisance. For instance, measures such as water spray and shielding must be taken in order to minimise dust pollution, and construction debris should be properly stored and removed for disposal quickly. If you believe a construction site is violating the guidelines, you might want to lodge a complaint.
Accept that your view might change
If the new development is going to be in your line of sight, then you will have to mentally prepare yourself for a changed view. As the vast majority of new residential projects in Singapore are high-rise, it is likely that you will eventually be looking out of a window and directly into the walls of a condo or HDB block.
This can alter the amount of sunlight your unit receives, which you should take note of if you are trying to grow plants on your balcony, on your windowsill or in the corridor.
If you have been enjoying the freedom of having no other buildings directly in front of yours, it might also be time to think about putting up curtains or blinds that allow sunlight through while still maintaining privacy.
Will the new development affect your property value?
There is some evidence to suggest that a new development popping up in the neighbourhood can, in some cases, raise the prices of other homes in the area. It is not quite as simple as the halo effect, though. How new projects may influence your property’s value depends largely on the existing neighbourhood and the development(s) being launched in the area.
Certain new developments can raise the attractiveness of an area. For instance, if the property being built next door is a mixed-use development housing not only residences but also shops and/or office space, it could make the area more desirable to prospective residents. If you are living in a neighbourhood mostly populated by older homes, a new residential launch can also rekindle interest in the area.
That being said, there is certainly no guarantee that your soon-to-be new neighbours will raise the property value of your home. If you are living in a nascent non-mature estate that is undergoing lots of construction, any rises in home value are likely to be due to the development of the estate, rather than any specific residential project.
Singapore’s urban landscape is constantly being renewed, and frequent construction is something we need to learn to live with. While there is nothing you can do to avoid neighbouring construction short of moving away, doing all you can to mitigate the noise, dust and loss of privacy will go a long way towards helping you cope.
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