Ageing flats built between 1987 and 1997 are set to be upgraded under the extended Home Improvement Programme (HIP) which will include new retractable clothes drying rack, among others, reported The Straits Times.

According to the Housing Development Board (HDB), there are some 230,000 HDB flats that are eligible for the upgrade at present, and the first 55,000 of those will be offered the programme beginning this year.

Developed by HDB, the new laundry rack includes six horizontal stainless-steel poles. Such poles can be extended and retracted within the rack frame.

The design of the rack primarily considers the elderly residents because it is safer to use as they will no longer have to lift and move heavy bamboo poles outside the kitchen window, said HDB.

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The new racks were first piloted at Block 641 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 in 2018 to examine its functionality and robustness, and see whether it can survive Singapore’s weather. HDB revealed that the residents’ feedback show that the racks are easier to use.

“I’m very happy with it because it’s very easy to use and clean. Last time, the bamboo poles were too heavy, so I seldom put my clothes outside,” said the 72-year-old cleaner Jahara Bakroon, a resident of Ang Mo Kio.

The racks’ maintenance will be the responsibility of town councils as part of common property.

Aside from the retractable racks, the HIP package will also introduce other improvements which include the repair of structural cracks, the replacement of piping for waste or soil discharge, as well as the upgrade of the electrical load. The costs for these upgrades will be fully shouldered by the government.

Contemporary and better-quality home fittings are likewise available under the package, though optional.

Some of those are more scratch resistant and durable laminated timber front doors which may be opted as replacement for the veneer doors, and a modern steel grille entrance gate equipped with interior thumb-turn knob, capable of being unlocked from the inside keyless, which may replace the current mild steel gate.

Residents may also pick from a range of wall and floor tiles designs, with more different tile sizes available.

A rating of at least “very good” per the national water agency PUB’s Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme, are likewise guaranteed for more improved and water-efficient sanitary fittings such as water cisterns and taps.

These optional items are available to flat owners at subsidised rates of between 5-12.5% of the costs, which translates to between $550 and $1,375, depending on flat type.

HIP focuses on flat improvements and attends to common maintenance problems encountered by ageing flats.

“This will alleviate maintenance problems down the road and add to the service life of the flat, which my wife and I plan to live in for the rest of our lives,” said Dannie Prenda, 56, an engineer who availed all the bathroom upgrades for his flat in Bukit Batok.

The programme was introduced in 2007 and was previously available only for flats built up to 1986, before its expansion was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in August 2018.

However, it can only proceed when backed by at least 75% votes of a block’s eligible households which are composed of Singapore citizens.

The extended programme will cost the government more than $2 billion. While HDB did not specify a timeframe, HIP is expected to be gradually rolled out to other eligible flats through the years.

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