In March 2017, the Straits Times published a report that outlined how private property buyers paid over $780 million for air conditioning ledges. Residents in the La Fiesta condo in Sengkang were livid over being charged for air-con ledges. These ledges measured almost five metres long, and took up nine square meters. That’s almost the size of a bedroom! So it’s not hard to imagine why these buyers were pissed.
But that was just one example of how some private property buyers are exploited. There are many ways that developers can legitimately charge you for such spaces, even though they’re not ‘usable’. One of those is Private Enclosed Spaces.
What are Private Enclosed Spaces (PES)?
Before you decide to buy a condo, it’s best to know about Private Enclosed Spaces (PES) and Gross Floor Area (GFA).
The GFA is the maximum amount of liveable space that a developer is allowed to build on a given plot of land. The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is the entity that determines what does, and what doesn’t count as GFA.
Some types of PES do not count toward the GFA. They can be built without developers worrying about it factoring into strata area, which is the space buyers are charged for.
Some examples of PES include:
● Covered link-ways, pavilions, and sheds
● Extra space in the carpark
● Covered public walkways
● Covered public concourse
● Fake roofs
● Utility rooms
● Uncovered landscape gardens
● Tennis courts, swimming pools, and other open-air spaces
● Air conditioning ledges
● Space for permanently installed equipment
Why air conditioning ledges are part of the home price
Although air conditioning ledges are not part of the GFA, they are still considered part of the strata area as they serve individual units. What this means is that home buyers are paying for these air conditioning ledges as part of their home price. Given the typical per square feet rate for condominiums today, buyers would be forking out quite a large sum simply for air conditioning ledges.
How you can avoid overpaying for air conditioning ledges
While a solution may be to include these ledges into the GFA, this could still come with its own problems. Developers might end up building them too narrow, leading to issues with servicing air conditioning in future.
A more feasible solution would be introducing regulatory measures that give appropriate sizing guidelines for such spaces.
Currently, you can’t avoid paying for these ledges, but you can ensure you aren’t overpaying for them. Make sure you check that the show flat’s layout reflects the floorplans accurately. Check that the ledge is clearly represented, and ask the developer questions if you aren’t sure.
What about ground-floor units with PES?
Another type of PES found in condos that people may want to pay for can be found on ground-floor units. These units include a patio area that is usually closed off with a gate, providing an outdoor yard of sorts.
They sometimes work out to be more value per square feet compared to other units. However, they are not without their cons. Some drawbacks include littering from upstairs neighbours, more noise especially if the area faces the pool, and lack of privacy. However, these provide a nice outdoor area for lounging and sunbathing, and can add to liveable space. If you decide to go for a condo unit that comes with a PES, you can get started here.
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