Checking your new home for defects is especially important if you are buying property that has just been built, namely new HDB Build-to-Order flats (BTO), executive condominium units (EC), as well as private condominium units.
In such cases, you are entitled to having the defects rectified for free by HDB or the developer if you notify them during the defects liability period, which is usually one year from the date you are notified about the collection of keys.
Tip: Check home for defects and report them before starting renovations
One year seems a pretty long window, but for most homeowners, the ‘real’ timeline is much shorter as you’ll need to report all defects before your renovation contractors start works. This is because the damages reported then could have well been caused by you or the renovators instead of HDB or the private developers as the apartment is no longer in ‘brand new’ condition.
Reporting defects for HDB BTO flats
For HDBs, after you collect your keys, the defects reporting deadline is shortened to 7 days. When you collect your keys, you should receive the Defects Feedback Form. Once you’re done inspecting, you should report it to your estate’s Building Service Centre (BSC).
Defects inspection checklist for new HDB BTO, EC and condo home owners
Here’s a checklist of defects to look out for.
1. Walls and ceilings
Inspect the walls and ceilings for any hairline cracks, stains and lines. Stains could be a sign of water seepage which can cause serious problems for you later on, while cracks could indicate problems with the foundation or structure of the building. Wider cracks usually translate to more serious issues.
Also look out for aesthetic defects, like shoddy painting or brush marks. While not serious, you can get them rectified for free if you point them out.
2. Floors and tiles
Look out for any scratches and chips on the floor tiles, as well as stains which could indicate water seepage. You also want to ensure your flooring is even and consistent, with no tiles sticking out or unevenly laid.
You might also want to tap your floor tiles to see if any sound hollow, as a hollow sound could indicate that the tile has not be well-assembled.
3. Doors and gates
Your doors and gates should open and close smoothly and easily with your keys. Check to see if there are any problems with the mechanisms of the door and that there are no screeching noises when opening and closing. Also ensure that the door and the gate are properly aligned. There should be no rust on the hinges of the door or gate.
If there is a peep hole in the door, check to see that it has been properly assembled and gives you a clear view. Another thing to look out for is the door magnet, which should be properly aligned and show no signs of mould.
Open and close the windows to ensure that this can be done smoothly and that there is no screeching noise. You should also lock and unlock the windows using the keys to ensure the mechanism is functioning smoothly.
Inspect the glass for scratches, chips, bubbles or other defects, and ensure there is no rust on the hinge, lock or frame. You also want to ensure that the windows are properly aligned and installed.
Plumbing issues can be very costly to rectify and cause a lot of damage, so take special care to ensure there are no leaks anywhere in the home. Look out for stains, not just on the walls and floors, but also around valves and fittings and at the bottom of cabinets.
Also look at the visible parts of all the pipes to make sure they look sturdy and that there are no signs of stains or leaks, especially around the joints.
Another sign of a possible leak is corrosion around valves and fittings, so take a closer look to ensure all is well. Valves, fittings and connections are typically located in the bathroom and kitchen. Turn valves on and off wherever possible to check for leaks.
Inspect all electrical outlets, including telephone and cable TV jacks, to ensure the are no cracks, mould or other defects. You should also bring along an electrical device (like a charger, for example) to make sure the power points are working.
If you are inspecting a resale property, get a licensed electrical worker to inspect the wiring conditions to check if re-wiring is required, as electrical wiring has a limited lifespan.
Inspect the toilet, including the toilet bowl and toilet seat, to make sure there are no cracks, stains, scratches, leaks or water seepage. There should be no problems with the flushing system. Also flip the toilet seat and cover up and down to ensure they can be moved smoothly.
8. Taps, sinks and shower head
Inspect all basins, taps and shower heads to ensure there are no cracks, scratches, leaks or water seepage. Water should flow smoothly with acceptable water pressure, without sputtering or making strange noises, and there should be no dripping or leakage after the tap or shower is turned off.
10. Clothes drying rack
If your property is fitted with a clothes drying rack, inspect it to ensure there are no cracks or defects, and that the drying rack can be manipulated smoothly.
Tip: if you have more time, check the BCA common defects checklist
While some defects are merely aesthetic, others might be structural or even dangerous. The above list features the main areas for checking, but if you can afford the time, it may be worth the trouble to do a more thorough check and have any issues rectified as soon as possible.
On their website, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has a quality standards section that has a more comprehensive checklist for defects checking. There’s also a new homeowner’s guide that references the standards used in CONQUAS (BCA’s Construction Quality Assessment System) for assessing workmanship quality.
The use of CONQUAS is not mandated and developers are free to use any other guidelines to benchmark quality, but it’s nonetheless good content to reference when checking for defects.
… And with that, you’re all set. Happy checking and enjoy your new home!
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