Singapore

Construction firms working on HDB projects get more help

Relief measures include extension of steel price protection by nine more months

Construction companies working on Housing Board projects have been thrown a lifeline to ensure that building remains on track and delays are minimised for home buyers.

The relief measures include extending the duration of steel price protection from the HDB for nine additional months so contractors do not have to worry about price fluctuations, said the Ministry of National Development (MND) on Monday.

The HDB will also provide additional supplies of concrete materials such as cement and sand for local precast production, going beyond the amount contractors had earlier opted for in their tender.

Previously, steel price protection provided by the HDB was for 18 or 22 months, typically covering the duration of structural work, but this is now taking longer due to the pandemic.

The nine-month extension means a company that started work in January last year can now be protected against steel-price fluctuations until next March. About 35 projects could benefit from this extension.

Steel prices have risen by about 25 per cent since January while concreting materials are up 15 per cent, it noted.

Malaysia's movement control order has prompted contractors here to bring precast production back to Singapore.

These contractors may now require more materials here, which the HDB will provide and at the same price committed in the tender.

It will also help contractors that want to relocate some precast production in Singapore by helping with land applications for the production and storage of precast components.

Contractors can apply for additional supplies from October.

The new assistance measures come after the main contractors of five Build-To-Order (BTO) projects went bust last month, creating long delays for around 2,900 home buyers.

The affected projects are Sky Vista @ Bukit Batok, Senja Heights and Senja Ridges in Bukit Panjang, Marsiling Grove in Woodlands and West Coast Parkview in Clementi.

Main contractors Greatearth Corporation and Greatearth Construction and three related companies are being liquidated.

The HDB is working with Greatearth and provisional liquidator PricewaterhouseCoopers to appoint new contractors to complete the BTO projects.

Talks are under way for the potential new main contractors and existing subcontractors to work together.

"This will allow affected subcontractors the opportunity to work out a suitable arrangement to remain on the projects and complete the remaining works. It will also minimise the extent of delays for flat buyers," said the MND.

Buyers of the five affected BTO projects will be told of the new completion dates once the replacement contractors have been appointed and the construction schedule worked out.

In June last year, a $1.36 billion construction support package was announced to help building companies co-fund some of the extra costs they have incurred to meet safe management measures at worksites.

About $170 million cash advances had been disbursed as at last month to 36 contractors for 74 flat projects under construction, said the HDB.

It has also helped co-share the increase in other operating expenses such as equipment rental and site maintenance costs.

Property