Window grilles for homes could become compulsory

This article is more than 12 months old

Condo owners welcome move to allow them to install window grilles

Window grilles are as commonplace in residential homes here as air-con compressors sitting on balconies.

They are mainly for safety, to keep children from climbing out of the windows.

Yet some private estates have not allowed grilles to be installed.

This is despite the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) reminding management corporation strata titles (MCSTs) in 2015 that home owners should not be stopped from installing grilles to prevent harm to children.

But it may become the law soon, if a proposed amendment to the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act, tabled last Tuesday, is passed in Parliament.

The BCA told The Straits Times that there have been cases where apartment owners had not been allowed to install safety grilles because the management corporations (MCs) "deemed that it would affect the appearance of the building in the development".

Mr Roger Seow, 46, said he was not going to take chances before he and his family move into their new apartment at The Vales executive condominium in Sengkang.

"It's to prevent my two-year-old from falling out," said Mr Seow, who works in sales.

"My son is very active. He likes to climb... It's better to be safe than sorry."

Grilles do not have an impact on the value of the house. What’s important is whether the condo is well-maintained. ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim

The father of two is one of many apartment owners cheering last week's announcement that MCs may no longer be able to prevent residents from having window grilles installed.

Mr Eugene Lim, key executive officer at ERA Realty, said it will be a good thing.

"Grilles do not have an impact on the value of the house. What's important is whether the condo is well-maintained."

Besides, apartment owners "install grilles internally, (and) these are not permanent structures".

At present, some condominiums allow only certain types of grilles.

And BCA's 2015 reminder did state that home owners had to have the grille designs approved by the MCs.

At The Esta in Amber Gardens, only "invisible" grilles are permitted, for aesthetic reasons.

Mr Richard Ong, condominium manager for The Esta, said: "We want to preserve uniformity, or else it will be quite unsightly."

Mr David Tan, director of Invisys, a company that sells "invisible" grilles, said he has seen a 30 per cent to 40 per cent year-on-year increase in business since opening in 2010.

About 70 per cent of his customers live in condos.

These grilles - which keep people from falling out, rather than deter burglars - can usually be installed within a day.

The BCA said that even with the proposed amendment, home owners will still have to "ensure that any such safety equipment installed does not mar the appearance of the building".

"Developers and MCSTs are thus encouraged to provide design guidelines for the installation of safety equipment, so that purchasers and subsidiary proprietors can adopt them to maintain a certain uniformity in appearance."