All you EVER need to know; choosing an ideal HDB flat

How should you choose your HDB flat?

If you are reading this because you are not sure how to choose your HDB unit after you have received the much awaited notification letter, you are in the right place! However, even if you are looking for a Condominium unit, the following tips, which are especially compiled for first-timers like you, would still be relevant in helping you to narrow down your preferences. 

Yes, today I am going to leverage on my experience and share some pointers, in the order of execution, on how to choose your ideal unit. 

Well, this is quite a fair bit of reading ahead, but it is important that you assess all of the factors listed below holistically.

1st, arm yourself with a plan

No plan is a plan to fail!

No home can be 100% perfect, unless you are rich enough to build one yourself la. 
The point is that you should be mentally prepared that you might not be able to secure your idea unit, especially when it comes to BTO or even Condo projects that are located in popular locations. 

Therefore, you should always have backup plans, in the form of a list of shortlisted units, meticulously sorted by the order of preference (categorized by location, followed by units on various floors) to make the most out of what you are offered.

2nd, find out what is the budget you can afford

Buying a HDB flat is probably the biggest and the most expensive purchase decision which you could ever make in your lifetime. Therefore, it is important that you find out your eligibility, the housing grants, and the maximum HDB or bank loan which you are eligible for before selecting your desired unit. 

Note: In general, the bigger a HDB flat, the more expensive it is and a more central location is much more expensive. Also, a HDB located in the mature estate is definitely more expensive than one in the non mature estate. Lastly, even for the same block, a unit which is located in the higher floor is more expensive than those on the lower floor.

3rd, find out when the BTO will be ready

Different projects have different dates which they are ready for key collection and occupation. For instance, you might want to choose a proejct which has a much earlier completion date if you intend to start a family very soon.

4th, find out the essential attributes which make a unit desirable

1. Central location is more desirable (generally)

A centrally located unit is more desirable due to the following: 
a. Being equidistant distance to other parts of Singapore = shorter travelling time & cheaper
b. Nearer to Central Business District; CBD is where the major businesses, large shopping centers are located. CBD is also known as the Central Area or City Area. In short, the place where most population goes to work and play.

However, with the intensifying of the land, increasingly work zones are also carved out of other areas in Singapore. For example, with the imminent setting up of the second central business district in Jurong, the western part of Singapore has also gained in popularity. Also, we have Seletar Aerospace Park in the north-east zone and Changi Business Park in the eastern zone of Singapore. 

Note: Other factors which will influence the choice of location:
Having a centrally located unit is certainly not always the best since the value of location is relative to different couples. For instance, it makes more sense for you to live near your elderly parents who are living in the north-eastern part of Singapore when you need to take care of them. In fact, the recommendation is to live a few blocks away so that you can check on them regularly. In addition, if your parents are the main caretakers of your young kids, you would not want to travel all the way to the north-east to drop off your kids, only to drive back to the CBD. Similarly, if your workplace is in the north-eastern area, you should consider BTO projects in the same area too.

2. Accessibility of your Block

Blocks which are within 500m away from the nearest MRT or LRT or located near bus networks are more accessible than blocks which are located further away. Furthermore, being near to a well connected MRT or bus stop is more favored.

Image from LTA

3. Future development of the Estate

The Master Plan (MP) is the statutory land use plan which details the Singapore's development for the next 10 to 15 years in the development of land and property. In short, the Master Plan shows the permitted land use and density for developments in Singapore.

What this means to you is that you study the URA master plan to find out the  if the empty plot of land in front of the BTO project will be set aside for housing, parks, recreation or community facilities. (Remember the Fernvale incident?) However, since the Master Plan is reviewed every 5 years, do bear in mind that the plan for the empty site might still be changed a couple of years down the road. 

The point is to make the best of all the information you have at hand. 

4. Current state of Estate

Is the area you are looking at a mature or non-mature estate? Well, mature estates are popular since they are equipped with better amenities, in the form of large markets, shopping malls, shops, hawker centers, town center, coffee shops and so on. Nevertheless, even if you have chosen a mature estate, it is still recommended to check out whether if there are shops, clinics, supermarket, F&B establishments and coffee shops nearby the blocks which you have shortlisted to cater to your daily necessities.

5. Site plan of the chosen Estate

The site plan will detail the number of blocks, location of facilities such as carpark, drop-off porch, electrical sub-station and so on, the orientation of each block and each unit. With these information, the site plan offers precious 2D insights which will be very handy in choosing your ideal unit.

a. Right size your flat and layout
Your gross household income will influence the maximum size of the HDB flat which you can get. An Executive Apartment or a 5 room flat should be able to accommodate a couple with parents and kids. The preferred layout of the unit should be either squarish or rectangular. Avoid units with odd corners since the placement of furniture will be a headache!

b. North-south facing units are cooler
Sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Hence, any units in the path of the general east and west sun path will be bathed glory in sunlight, turning them into a sauna or furnance with the walls trapped with the remnant heat. So, the compass indicated in the sitemap is a very important instrument which you should not ignore.

If there is another block of flats around your block, it should be able to shelter you from the harsh sunlight if your unit is low enough. If the balcony or service yard is bathed with ample sunlight, they might be a good place for you to sun dry your laundry. 
Dissipating the trapped heat can be mitigated with the use of air-cons, heat reflector windows stickers and thick blackout curtains. Generally, the windows do not retain as much heat as concrete walls. 
The sun path changes throughout out the year so the afternoon sun  calculator will show you the sun’s movement over the year. 

c. Units with the most natural light and ventilation
Ensure that the unit you have shortlisted is not surrounded by neighboring structures or blocks so that your unit is not shrouded in darkness and is well ventilated. This is because as government intensify the use of our land, the blocks are built closer to each other than ever before. The same applies for the corridors, especially if you or your parents want to line your beloved plants in the corridor. In addition, do note that east west facing units is usually the brightest, though not necessarily the coolest and the most well ventilated. 

d. Units which offer the maximum privacy
Avoid units with the most human or vehicle traffic, this meant that units near to the lifts, refuse area, multi-story car parks are not recommended. For multi-story car parks, the headlights from the cars making their way up in the multi-storey car park at night will be shone in the windows of units facing the multi-storey car park.

Avoid units with corridors that can offer views into your unit. Case in point; waterway at Punggol allow visitors views into their kitchen and utility yard. So choose a corner unit (i.e. on its own) or the one which is located furthest from to the nearest neighbor if privacy is utmost important to you. 

Image from HDB

Avoid units that are designed such that the entry door of each unit either face each other or are adjacent to each other. This is because you probably might have to keep your door closed at all time to prevent your neighbor from peeking into your living room. Furthermore, this will mean that you will be sharing the same corridor space for the shoes, bicycles, plants and so on. 

Avoid units that are facing directly or lower to the adjacent block or the MRT or LRT station. The flow of commuter traffic is throughout the day and they can peek into your living room, though your full height windows as they sieving past your block every day

Note: It is recommended that you make a trip down to the HDB hub to check out their 3D models prior the flat selection.

6. Other physical factors which cannot be deduced from the site plan

a. Height
The height of the unit will determine the view and the amount of sunlight and ventilation (generally the higher the unit, the brighter and airier it is). In fact, an east west facing unit located on the lower floor might be spared by the onslaught of the heat and sunlight if is blocked by another block of flats. In addition, a top floor unit will be baked by the sun even if it is north south facing. You should climb to the top floors of neighboring blocks to ascertain the views. 

b. Noise and dust
Avoid lower units that are close to the highway or  main roads since they will be directly affected by the never ending  sounds and fumes from the vehicles. Avoid units that are near to the MRT or the LRT tracks too. 

Avoid blocks which are next to schools since they tend to be teeming with noisy kids, not to mention the signing of the national anthem at 7.30am sharp too. In the similar vein, you might want to avoid places of regions since they will be jam packed with people (and traffic) during auspicious days. 

Avoid units which are near the playgrounds, gardens and function areas since they will bear the blunt of the noise generated from the kids, communal events such as RC gatherings, weddings and funerals.

c. Vehicular Traffic
Generally, you should avoid blocks which are near places of worship and schools to avoid crowds, heavy traffic and illegal parking woes. 

Note: For the point 6a to 6c, it is recommended that you do a site visit before chosing your HDB unit. The visitation should take place in the busiest time of a weekday, which is the weekday morning and evening to observe the crowd and the traffic density during the peak hour. Furthermore, you should also pay a visit in the afternoon to ascertain whether your shortlisted unit will face the blunt of the direct afternoon sunlight.

5th, discuss with your partner or family and start listing!

It is important that you discuss with your significant half on the above mentioned attributes before shortlisting the chosen units. There might be instances whereby both of you have to compromise if you cannot agree on which factors are more important. 

Lastly, good luck and please share this article if you find it useful! ;)


1 comment:

  1. Awesome tips you have here! I'm sure this'll be very helpful for everyone. You can also try visiting bgc condo for rent. I'm sure you'll like it!