SINGAPORE: The Housing and Development Board (HDB) has been exploring new technologies to improve on current repair methods for ceiling leaks, and has identified two new options, said Minister of State for National Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim on Tuesday (Feb 2).
The two new repair methods - the nanotechnology waterproofing system and overlaying waterproofing membrane system - provide alternative options for residents who do not wish to hack their toilet tiles or who prefer to keep the existing finishes in their toilets, said Dr Faishal.
For complex and recurring issues that contractors are unable to rectify, HDB will also assist in the investigations and provide advice where possible, said Dr Faishal.
Dr Faishal was responding to questions from MP Liang Eng Hwa (PAP-Bukit Panjang SMC) and MP Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap (WP-Aljunied), amid a recent spate of complaints over ceiling leaks and external wall seepage.
Mr Liang noted that he had received more than a hundred complaints over the past two to three months over such issues, and asked about HDB’s approach to assisting these flat owners.
Dr Faishal said that when there is a ceiling leak that occurs as a result of wear and tear over time, the responsibility for repairs is shared jointly between the upper and lower-floor flat owners.
“Both upper and lower-floor flat owners would need to jointly investigate and carry out the repairs.
"In most cases, leakages can be amicably resolved when flat owners exercise mutual understanding and cooperate with one another,” said Dr Faishal.
He also said that in cases where the leak is caused by wear and tear, HDB may also offer assistance to resolve the issue and co-share the cost of repairs under the Goodwill Repair Assistance scheme.
Under this scheme, HDB will pay 50 per cent of the ceiling leak repair cost. The remaining 50 per cent is then shared equally between the upper and lower-floor flat owners.
In cases where a leak at the lower-floor flat is caused by renovations carried out by the upper-floor resident, however, then the upper-floor resident would be “fully responsible for rectifying the leak and bearing the full repair cost”, he said.
As for ceiling leaks that occur on top floor units, Dr Faishal said the town council is responsible for addressing the leak, as the roof is part of common property.
NEW REPAIR METHODS LESS INTRUSIVE: HDB
HDB said on Wednesday in response to queries from CNA that the two new repair technologies for ceiling leaks are less intrusive and can be completed within a day.
Existing repair methods that require hacking of floor tiles generally take about three-and-a-half days to complete.
The nanotechnology waterproofing system involves spraying a coat of a colourless liquid-based solution onto the substrate or tiles, creating an invisible barrier with a hydrophobic effect to prevent ingression of water, HDB told CNA.
Meanwhile, the overlaying system is an epoxy-based waterproof membrane coating that can be applied directly and laid over existing tiles
The coating, which is 2mm to 3mm in thickness, has decorative flakes that create a granite or marble-like finish, said HDB.
"The existing repair method at the upper floor unit could cause a lot of inconvenience to the owner as it will involve the hacking and removal of the existing floor tiles and screed," said HDB.
"The new repair solutions thus could offer quicker solutions and facilitate both the upper and lower floor owners to cooperate to resolve the issue," it added.
EXTERNAL WALL SEEPAGE
Dr Faishal noted that external walls of HDB blocks are also common property managed by town councils – who are responsible for keeping them in good condition through regular maintenance.
In response to Mr Faisal’s question on whether authorities would consider a national programme for façade repair of ageing HDB blocks, Dr Faishal said there are currently no such plans, as issues such as wall seepage can be prevented through regular maintenance by town councils.
He added that HDB currently assists town councils by co-sharing 50 per cent of the costs of façade repairs.
From the second half of this year, the Building and Construction Authority will also require a Periodic Façade Inspection to be carried out for all buildings above 20 years old and above 13m in height.
For difficult cases, HDB will work with town councils to resolve seepage issues, added Minister-in-charge of the Municipal Services Office Sim Ann.
“In such cases, HDB can assist the TC by carrying out joint inspections and providing technical advice to the TC on appropriate repair methods,” she said, in response to a question by MP Desmond Choo (PAP-Tampines).
She also said that HDB has been providing training to town council maintenance staff on the repairs of water seepage from external walls.