Opt for HDB Flooring and OCS?
When balloting for a BTO flat, one of the major decisions to make initially is whether to opt in for the optional component scheme (“OCS”). Basically, you have to decide whether to “purchase” and include optional items such as the HDB flooring in the flat that you will be collecting a few years later.
Different housing projects might have different components in the OCS, so be sure to read the sales brochure carefully or ask the HDB officer. The latest addition to OCS is that you can choose to have an open-kitchen option. The designs for the tiles and doors used for the whole house also differ from project to project. You can view the design display at HDB hub.
For our 4-room BTO flat, the OCS includes
- laminated semi-solid timber doors for the rooms and toilets,
- wash basins, sanitary fittings, and
- polished porcelain tiles with timber skirting flooring for the living, dining and bedrooms.
We opted OUT of OCS because of various reasons:
- Firstly, I know of people who didn’t like what they got from HDB. Hence, they layered the existing HDB tile flooring with laminated flooring, and also removed and replaced the HDB doors and basins that they have paid for. So why pay for something that we might not want in future?
- Anyway, we didn’t want semi-solid doors for our rooms. The soundproofing is relatively poor, and the opening and closing of such door is noisier than solid doors.
- And we simply didn’t like their door design.
- Moreover, I find it hard to maneuver around with swing doors for the toilets. The width of the toilet door is especially big as it is designed for handicap access. Also, the toilet isn’t big to begin with, so an unfold-able door takes up a lot of precious space.
- Ultimately, a major decisive factor on whether one chooses OCS is the HDB flooring for the living, dining and bedrooms. Read on to find out why we didn’t want the flooring.
HDB Flooring and Wall for Toilets and Kitchen
Regardless whether you opt in or out of OCS, the walls and floors for the toilets and kitchen will still come laid with tiles by HDB. With that, one of defects to check is whether water will slope well into the drainage. You can refer to my post “Singapore HDB BTO Defects Check” for more information.
Tiles for Kitchen
The walls of our kitchen, service yard and bomb shelter is laid with glazed porcelain tiles, while the floor is with ceramic tiles. So if you prefer homogeneous tiles that’s better, or other tile colour and design, you can hack them away, but make sure you obtain a hacking permit from HDB.
We didn’t hack away the tiles as seen in photo below. It’s done by the HDB contractor because the water didn’t flow well into the drainage and we submitted it as one of the defects. Hence, they rectified by hacking away the tiles to “re-slope”.
Tiles for Bathrooms / Toilets
For our bathrooms, both the wall and flooring is laid with ceramic tiles. Even if you don’t like the design, you can’t hack these tiles away. There’s a three-year restriction period on the removal of HDB’s bathroom wall and floor tiles. This is to prevent tampering of the waterproofing membrane that is laid between the cement screed and tiles. Tampering might lead to a ceiling leak problem. You can take a look at the HDB guidelines on building works for reference.
What if you want to achieve your instagram perfect bathroom design? Here’s an alternative: Lay tiles over the existing ones. But for some others, they think this will only make the bathrooms an inch smaller.
Thankfully for us, the HDB design and colours of the toilet and kitchen are nice and kinda fit into our theme. I have seen really ugly colours and weird tile designs. But if given a choice, I would have liked bathrooms with marble floor and wall. However due to our budget, the hacking and overlaying of tiles are unnecessary expenses and waste of material. Moreover, it’s a better idea to defer the tiling works for the bathroom/kitchen until they get mouldy and old after years of use. Then we can do a mini renovation to spruce up the areas. Or probably by that time, we might decide to sell the house and not renovate.
Opt out of HDB flooring?
If you have opted out of OCS, you will receive a relatively bare flat with rugged or rocky floor surface for the living, dining and bedrooms. It’s only after your contractor screed the floor that you achieved a smooth surface as seen in the photo below.
Since we didn’t opt in for HDB flooring, the recent change in ruling to use prepacked cement screed significantly increase the renovation cost. So if we have opted in, we wouldn’t have to bear such increase in cost. I understand from the HDB screeding contractor that HDB has already phased out their free cement screeding service, but because of this change in ruling after we signed, they made it an exception. Owners can arrange with HDB via a form given during key collection appointment or head down to the estate’s HDB branch to fill in the form.
However this free service is only applicable to those who are doing laminate, parquet or vinyl flooring and not those who are doing tiles. Hence, we could only apply for the free screeding service for the parquet in the rooms. By right, we didn’t have to pay anything, but because the building contractor gave us a flooring that’s much lower than the standard, we have to pay extra $400 to the screed contractor to increase the height of the screeding for the parquet. The screeding contractor quoted other homeowners S$1,050 for the screeding of the living, dining and bedrooms. This pricing differs for different housing project.
So why didn’t we want HDB flooring?
Firstly, the quality of the tiling work might not be good, considering they are mass-producing the units in hurry. You might spot a defect and asked for a replacement of tiles, but these tiles might come from a different batch. This means that the colour and grains might differ from the original and become obviously incongruent with the rest, sticking out like a sore thumb. So if it’s minor defect, it’s better to close one eye.
Secondly, there’s the risk that HDB tile design might not match with our overall house theme in future. After all, we didn’t know the design we might like a few years down the road.
Lastly, we thought the flooring price quoted by HDB in the OCS might be the same as external contractors, if not higher. Even if it’s quoted lower, the cost of the OCS is added into the overall purchase price of the BTO that will have interest rolling on it. Then again, you might prefer to pay by CPF for HDB flooring rather than cash to your own contractor. Moreover, with the prepacked screed ruling, I’m not sure if the flooring will be cheaper if you go with OCS option. It’s good to check out the market pricing before deciding if you want to get flooring from HDB.
So are you going to opt in for HDB flooring and OCS? Any other reason why one should or should not opt in? I like to hear from you. Do leave a comment below. 🙂