If you have ever been to a HDB built before 1990, you may have realized that the lift doesn’t stop at every floor. For instance, those living on the eight floor may have lifts that stop only on the seventh and tenth floor, forcing you to walk either upstairs or downstairs.
For most of us, this is just a minor annoyance. For those living in these flats, however, it’s a greater hassle than you might expect. Heavy groceries take a greater toll on your knees, and buying new furniture would require a small team of people to carry them up the stairs.
Thankfully, there are a whole range of HDB upgrading programmes aimed at relieving these inconveniences. One of these HDB upgrading programmes happens to be the Lift Upgrading Programme.
The Lift Upgrading Programme aims to allow lift access to every floor
Before the 1990s, HDB blocks weren’t outfitted with complete lift access during their construction. The Lift Upgrading Programme is one of three HDB upgrading programmes that aims to achieve direct lift access to every floor. Of course, not every old HDB flat was designed to provide lift access to each floor, and thus feasibility has to be taken into consideration.
New lift shafts and lifts will be provided only when HDB determines that the upgrades are technically and economically feasible.
As with most of the amenities in the HDB upgrading programme, these upgrades will be heavily subsidised by the government. A portion of the remaining sum will be paid for by the Town Council. The remaining sum will be paid for by all flat owners who stand to benefit from the lift upgrades. This can go up to a maximum of $3,000, subject to GST. The total cost of the new lifts will depend on the flat type, as well as the block’s configuration.
These subsidies only apply to Singaporean Citizens. Singapore Permanent Resident households will have to pay for the full upgrading cost, without the subsidies. However, if a flat owner acquires Singapore Citizenship within a year of the date of billing, they can qualify for reimbursement of the upgrading subsidy.
If you happen to have an elderly family member who finds it difficult to walk up steps, it might be time to consider getting a resale flat with better amenities for them.
What goes into the lift upgrades?
First, the HDB upgrading programme committee will identify the HDB blocks that require upgrades. The following are taken into consideration:
- The age of the block
- Residents’ needs
- Technical viability
If these conditions are met, the next phase would be to conduct a poll for the residents within the HDB flat. An exhibition will be held during the polling exercise, displaying proposals and plans for the upgrades.
During this period, all eligible households will have the chance to vote either for or against the LUP. Eligible households are households that have at least one flat owner holding a Singapore Citizenship.
If at least 75% of the block votes in favour of the LUP, then the upgrading will commence.
A look down a typical lift shaft
A look down a typical lift shaft
The lift upgrades starts with detection and diversion works. Service agencies are employed to detect and divert any existing underground cables and pipes to make way for the new lift shaft. These diversion works will last anywhere from six months to a year. During this time, there may be slight disruptions to water, electricity, gas, and telephone services.
Following the detection and diversion works, micro-piling will be carried out. The HDB upgrading programme uses micro-piling machines that are as quiet as possible so as not to disturb the neighbourhood residents.
After the micro-piling, lift shaft installation will commence. This is usually done with pre-casted components or steel. Steel shafts will allow for faster installation due to their lighter weight, and they can be jointed in stacks of up to 4 floors. For a standard high-rise HDB block, the lift shaft can be installed within a single day, while keeping in line with the necessary safety precautions.
Finally, the lift parts will be installed. This will take place concurrently with architectural, mechanical, and electrical works. Before it is opened for public use, the new lift will have to go through rigorous testing.
It usually takes about a year from the commencement of piling for the lift to be operational.
What should you do if you’re stuck in a lift?
Even with the upgrades in place, machinery isn’t infallible. Although there are lift mechanics on standby for emergency cases, lift safety is a shared responsibility. Here are some things to take note of when taking a lift:
Supervising adults should accompany young children to ensure that they do not place their hands on lift doors.
Ensure that your leashed pet is inside the lift before the doors close. The leashed collar could be trapped in the door as the lift ascends/descends, strangling your pet.
Look out for people rushing for the lift, and press the ‘Door Open’ button to hold the doors open.
Use body parts such as your hands or legs to stop the doors from closing. Use the ‘Door Open’ button instead.
Pry the lift doors open when the lift stalls. Instead, press the alarm button and wait for help.
Jump or play in the lift.
Stand near the lift doors. Loose objects such as long dresses, leashes, earpieces, and backpack straps may get caught in the doors.
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