So it's goodbye to paper-thin walls at showflats, finally?

By The Folks @PropTalk - February 8, 2011 No Comments

Below is an excerpt of a BT report today:

The Ministry of National Development (MND) plans to introduce new regulations to make sure that developers build showflats that accurately represent the actual units in a project, sources told BT.

The move is meant to ensure that buyers are not misled by the interior design work at some showflats, which developers use to entice buyers before a residential development is completed.

Developers have been known to leave out structural walls and columns when building showflats in order to make apartments seem more spacious. Another common tactic is to avoid clearly marking where a balcony starts, which makes living rooms appear larger.

With the new rules,
  • Developers will be prevented from leaving out structural walls and columns from their showflats if completed units in the development will have these structures.
  • Structural walls in showflats will have to be on the same thickness as those in the actual homes.
  • Non-structural walls will have to be clearly marked out.
  • Showflat ceiling heights will have to be accurately reflected.
  • The transition from the living room to the balcony will also have to be clearly demarcated, although how this can be done is still being finalised.
MND could also mandate that other essential elements such as bomb shelters and service balconies have to be present in showflats, sources added.

The ministry is likely to launch a consultation exercise within the next few weeks before finalising the new regulations. The new rules could then be implemented in the second half of this year, BT understands.

Developers BT spoke to said that the problem of misleading showflats is not all that common in Singapore.

“The bigger boys don’t really do it (build misleading showflats),” one developer said. “But it happens, especially with so many new entrants in the market.”

Of late, a few developments – including those offering mostly small, “shoebox” units – have come under criticism for having showflats with ceiling heights that are “not real”, extending living room spaces into balconies, and extensive use of glass and mirror walls in place of structural walls.

In one extreme case, an entire wall which was supposed to separate one unit’s living room from the next apartment was replaced by just masking tape on the floor – albeit high-end masking tape.

Sometimes, even sales agents who walk prospective buyers through such showflats do not know that they are not accurate representations of the completed units.

The wife and I certainly welcome the proposed new regulations for showflats, which we felt are long overdue. As long as we can remember (and this is dating way back to the 1990s), the actual completed unit of many projects seemed to be somewhat smaller than what we recalled seeing in the showflat of similar size/configuration. This is especially in relation to the bedrooms.

And it is somewhat unfair to put the blame on “new entrants in the market” – if you have been following our showflat reviews, you will find that even established players have been guilty of "vague" representations. How else can you explain the "what you see is not what you get" ceiling heights and “baby grand” straddling between the living and balcony area…?

So what is your pet peeve on the issue of showflat "misrepresentation"? To get the ball rolling, here's one of ours:
You step into a 3+Study showflat, see the frosted-glass wall separating the small Study and the adjacent walkway, and think to yourself "hey, this is an excellent idea as the last thing I need is another concrete wall that takes up additional space". But when you ask the marketing agent if the glass partition comes as an option, the response you get is "Oh, this is just ID. If you want to do this, it is subjected to approval from the condo management after you take possession of the unit, and at your own cost"...



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