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Home buyers to benefit from new banding system tracking the performance of developers, builders

A Window Water Tightness Test being conducted at an unnamed condominium under the Conquas banding assessment. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - Home buyers can now get a better sense of how well developers and builders perform with the rollout of a new construction quality banding system that tracks their record in private residential projects over the past six years.

Launched on Thursday, the new banding system will replace the existing Construction Quality Assessment System (Conquas) scores for building projects with immediate effect, said the Building and Construction Authority (BCA).

Conquas set out standards for various aspects of architectural works, and awarded points for works that met these standards.

The points were then summed up to give a total quality score - the Conquas score - for the building project.

During a briefing on Thursday, Mr Neo Choon Keong, deputy chief executive of industry development at BCA, said that the new Conquas banding system rates developers and builders in bands from one to six - with one being the best.

This is to give home buyers a more accurate assessment of construction performance than the old system which merely provided one overall score.

Home buyers will know how the developer and builder for the residential development they are interested in have performed in past projects, which would also be an indication of the quality of their upcoming projects, said Mr Neo.

Conquas was introduced in 1989 to assess the quality of building projects at the point of inspection.

Subsequently, Conquas assessments have been required for new buildings constructed on Government Land Sales sites since 1992, and public-sector building projects with contract values above $5 million since 1998.

The new banding was developed following feedback from home buyers that the current reflection of quality performance (by score) was not intuitive for research and meaningful comparisons, to help them make an informed home purchase decision.

BCA also noted that developers and builders have varying quality standards, and that past quality performance is an indication of quality for upcoming projects.

Currently, BCA’s Quality Housing Portal (QHP) contains the banding of 110 developers and 76 builders, covering 350 private residential projects completed in the past six years, as well as projects undergoing assessments.

Developers, builders and private residential projects are rated on a scale from band 1, which means they are found to have a very low incidence rate of major defects, to band 6.

Bands 1 and 2 are reserved for firms that have consistently delivered projects with little or no major defects, highlighting their strong performance, while band 3 indicates an average incidence of major defects found, said BCA.

The benchmarks and scores for each band are calibrated with reference to validated feedback on major defects received from home buyers.

Major defects mainly relate to functionality as well as liveability. Some examples include inter-floor water seepage at wet areas, water seepage through the windows, as well as popping tiles.

Conquas performance is a reflection of the extent of the major defects found, and these defects are required to be rectified by the developer and builder, said BCA.

Currently, 20 developers and 15 builders have been accorded band 1, including City Developments Limited (CDL) and Woh Hup Limited.

EL Development, which sold 75 per cent of its 275-unit Blossoms By The Park on the first day of its launch in April, was placed in band 3.

Far East Organisation, which will launch its 99-year leasehold The Reserve Residences in District 21 on May 27, was put in band 4, while IOI Group, developer of The Trilinq condo in Clementi, was in band 5.

No developer has been put in band 6 yet.

Mr Tan Siang Leng, who has placed a cheque for a three-bedder unit at The Reserve Residences, was surprised to find out about Far East Organisation’s banding.

“The new banding system is definitely good news for home buyers. It is always a hassle and headache to complain and to rectify the defects upon taking over a unit,” said Mr Tan, 46, an accountant.

Mr Tan said that even with the subpar banding that Far East has achieved, he would go ahead with his purchase because he believes that Far East would be on their toes to deliver quality works.

“I believe the banding system will pressure them to raise their quality. It will take a few years for The Reserve Residences to be built, so there’s still time to rectify any issues,” said Mr Tan.

Mr Neo said: “We want a virtuous cycle - informed buyers drive responsible developers to select competent builders, who want to consistently improve quality. Then, we will see the standard going up.

“That’s what we’re trying to achieve.”