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After eons of waiting, your new BTO/ HDB flat is finally ready. As part of our HDB renovation guide, here’s everything you need to know about HDB key collection, as well as some handy tips for visiting your swanky new flat for the first time.
Let’s take a quick look at the timeline of getting a new home (BTO, SBF):
|HDB Flat application timeline||Estimated waiting time|
|Submit flat application||-|
|Get ballot number||2 months|
|Book your flat||1 month|
|Sign agreement for lease||Any time before key collection (varies)|
|Key collection||3 to 4 years|
|Defect checks and renovation||2 months|
I booked my new home during a Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercise and I got my keys within a year, so I actually remember my first appointment with HDB. For the many others who aren’t as lucky, the journey to a new home is a painful, long-drawn process that can take up to 4.5 years.
If you just got your appointment to collect your keys but are a bit gong-gong from everything you’ve done so far, here’s a helpful list of stuff you need to get ready before heading down.
Stage 1: HDB Key Collection – what to expect and prepare
When you go down for your HDB key collection appointment, there’s quite a bit of administrative paper work and legal documents to sign before you reach the tear-jerking moment of holding your new house keys in your hand. For this, you’ll need to take note of the following:
#1 Bring identity cards
Don’t forget your NRIC cards, or you won’t be able to do anything.
#2 Make sure you’ve bought fire insurance
All new home owners need to purchase a mandatory fire insurance from HDB’s appointed insurer, ETIQA. You may do so at HDB hub itself, or do it online. It only costs $1.50 to $6.60 (depending on your home size), and won’t take more than 10 minutes if done online via ETIQA’s website.
#3 Make sure that your Singpass is working
For most people, buy house = wipe out CPF. You’ll need to authorise this huge transaction with your Singpass, so you have to ensure that your 2-Factor Authentication (2FA) is set up properly and working (it takes 10 days, so don’t do it last-minute). You’ll also need to bring either your mobile phone or token device.
#4 Send a Power of Attorney (if you are unable to attend the appointment personally)
Of course, ideally you should head down personally. But if you’re overseas, you can have an attorney represent you. He must bring one certified true copy by the solicitors and two photocopies.
#5 Bring your marriage certificate (for flats under the Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme)
For couples and newly weds, make sure you bring your ROM certificate. If you’ve not signed the papers yet, you have 3 months to do it and submit it (after key collection).
#6 Bring your completed GIRO form (if you are paying monthly loan instalments partially or fully by cash)
#7 Set up and activate your utilities account with SP Services
If you want to chop-chop go to your new home, you should set up your utilities account before your key collection date. This way, you’ll be able to switch on the water (in case you need to wash your hands or use the loo) and test your power points. You can set up your SP Services account online (takes about 3 days) or by phone.
Stage 2: Keys collected – now what?
Congratulations! You’re now the (kind of) owner of your new HDB flat!
- Schedule your HDB appointment early in the morning: Most couples are super excited and want to head straight to see the house once they receive the keys. If that is your plan, make sure you try to schedule your HDB appointment for the morning or early afternoon – once it gets dark you won’t be able to see anything in your new home as there won’t be any lights installed.
- Check your home for defects: If there are any, you can submit via the HDB defects form for Building Service Centre to rectify.
- Report defects to HDB: You have to submit the defects within 7 days.
Stage 3: Check your new BTO for defects – 8 things to bring on your first visits
When you reach, you’ll realise that your new crib is not quite liveable yet. But before you can get renovating, you must first check your home for defects. It is important that you report any defects as soon as possible, because once your contractor starts work, HDB will not rectify any defects for you.
I’ll be honest – once you get over the excitement of having a new home, visiting the place can become a chore. It’s hot, there’s nowhere to sit, and everything is dusty af. For your convenience, here’s a list of recommended stuff you can bring during your first few visits.
#1 Masking tape and pen / marker: Use the masking tape to mark out defects, and the marker to write on the tape. If you need to bring a pen along to write notes anywhere else (on paper or whatever), be sure to bring a few just in case the dust messes with the ink.
#2 Measuring tape: It helps to have a measuring tape on hand in case you need to measure specific areas and vertical space. Beams are not reflected in your floor plan, so you must take note of them when you visit the house.
#3 Foldable chairs (or cardboard): You may be hanging around for quite a bit, so if you can, leave a few foldable chairs in the house. This way, you at least have somewhere to sit while waiting for contractors and deliveries. If you don’t drive and chairs are hard to bring around, you can bring some pieces of cardboard and sit on the floor. If you’re planning to call for food delivery or dabao food, having a foldable table may be a good idea too.
#4 Toilet paper: I repeat – the whole house is dirty and dusty! You’ll need to wash your hands many times (and eventually use the loo), so leave a roll of toilet paper for convenience.
#5 Pail: New flats mostly come fitted with taps, sinks and toilet bowls. However, if you’re changing it – i.e. uninstalling the existing ones – there will be several visits when you have nothing to wash your hands with. In case the need arises, bring a handy pail to store and scoop water from.
#6 Dustbin or plastic bag: I didn’t think of this and had to carry loose articles of trash with me all the way downstairs before I found a bin. Not fun. Be it dustbin or plastic bag, just bring something to store your trash.
#7 Any electronic charger: One of the things many people forget to check are the power points. Bring any electronic device and plug it into all the sockets to make sure they’re working. Phone chargers are the smallest and easy to plug and unplug.
#8 Standing fan: Another “luxury” good, this is more for those who will drive over in a car. Because there are no lights at home, you’ll probably be visiting in the day when it’s hot and humid. Cool down by plugging in a standing fan and opening the windows.
#9 Torch light: Once night falls, your empty home will get very dark, so it may be worth it to keep a torchlight handy in case you need to stay later than expected.
#10 Storage box: You can also bring a storage box to keep all the above-mentioned barang barang and leave it in the bomb shelter (or store room) for future visits.
This article was originally published in MoneySmart.