Construction and renovation costs have increased by 20 to 50%, resulting in town council upgrading projects being scaled down or completion timelines being delayed by several months.

With construction and renovation costs up by 20% to 50% due to the manpower crunch facing the construction industry, Members of Parliament (MPs) revealed that upgrading projects at their ward have been scaled down or delayed.

Bukit Panjang Single Member Constituency (SMC) MP Liang Eng Hwa said some of the upgrading projects at his ward have been delayed by “a few months” as construction costs for such projects rose by 10% to 35%, reported TODAY.

However, he noted that the delay for essential projects, like barrier-free access for wheelchair users, cannot be too prolonged.

“Some (projects) we still have to carry out, even though the cost is higher,” he said as quoted by TODAY.

In July, MacPherson SMC MP Tin Pei Ling raised the issue of increasing construction and renovation costs in Parliament, asking how the pandemic impacted construction costs within the city-state.

She also asked how the hike affected public estate construction and upgrading projects.

Minister of State for National Development Tan Kiat How explained that the increase in construction costs was due to higher foreign manpower costs as border restrictions limited the inflow of foreign workers into Singapore.

He also attributed the increase in construction cost to reduced productivity due to the implementation of safe management measures at work sites as well as to the higher cost of construction materials.

Nonetheless, Tan assured that the hike in estate upgrading work costs will not be passed down to homeowners.

For neighbourhood renewal programmes (NRPs), he said that town councils were encouraged to “work within budget and reduce upgrading items if necessary”.

MP Tin shared that for her ward’s NRP, the lowest bid by a construction company for the project came in higher than they had expected.

“If we were to still keep to the budget, we would have to eliminate some of the items planned under the NRP,” she said, noting that the project’s scope may be slashed by a third.

“The NRP was really meant to either address some of our residents’ requests over the years or to make sure that the environment is better for residents of all ages… it will be painful if we have to strike off too many items,” she added as quoted by TODAY.

Over at Radin Mas SMC, the construction costs for projects there also increased by 30%, said MP Melvin Yong.

He revealed that the upgrade of the ABC Brickworks Hawker Centre has been delayed by a month, and he had appealed to the Building and Construction Authority as well as the Ministry of Trade and Industry to resume construction work at the site.

The NRP at Bukit Merah View was also delayed by about eight months, according to Tanjong Pagar GRC Joan Pereira.

East Coast GRC MP Jessica Tan said the progress of the Home Improvement Programme (HIP) at her Changi-Simei ward was delayed “by several months” due to the implementation of safe management measures.

The HIP aims to improve the internal living environment of HDB homeowners by addressing some common maintenance issues facing older flats, such as spalling concrete.

Meanwhile, some MPs decided to postpone the projects at their wards in hopes that construction costs will decline over the coming months as the COVID-19 situation stabilises.

Tampines GRC MP Desmond Choo said upgrading works at Tampines Round Market and Food Centre as well as at his ward’s Community Club were pushed “further down the pipeline” as he believes the hike in construction costs will be short term.

“It is a block of 12 to 15 months whereby production of (construction) materials slowed down, so it’s much better to avoid this period of time,” he said as quoted by TODAY.

“Once we have reached a much higher level of vaccination, this will give construction companies more stability, and we can see if we can bring forward some projects.”

MP Tin also hopes costs will drop once the COVID-19 situation stabilises.

“(The increase in construction cost) is caused by macro factors that are beyond everyone, we understand that fully, so we will just hold back the project for now, see whether things stabilise,” she said.

“If we proceed now, there are too many items that we have to take out (so) we’re postponing for a bit and see whether the cost will come down or not.”

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Cheryl Chiew, Digital Content Specialist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact her about this story, email: cheryl@propertyguru.com.sg

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