Buying a Landed Property in Singapore? Some pointers to share.

If you have been following my IG, you would probably heard that we have recently committed to a landed property.  It has been Kelvin’s dream for the longest time to move into a bigger home but it was partly hindered by me due to the fact that I have got this 3 Big Fears – Fear of Ghost, Fear of Pest (roaches and rats especially) and Fear of Intruders.  After years of talking him out of the idea, he decided this year would be the year. He thought it would be  better to do it sooner than later. Ok I have to agree that at the rate the prices are going, we might never be able to own a landed property if we do not do it soon enough.   With HDB flats going at 1 million dollars in prime districts, woah.. we cannot imagine how the price trend would be as the surge for landed properties increases.

We embarked on the search of a property which would be either ready built to our likes or would focus on one with focus on the land specs for us to rebuild our dream house. We decided on one that currently sits an inter-terrace house but we will be applying to convert it to become a semi-detached as our intent is to demolish and rebuild. For those who are keen on this aspect; the minimum requirement for a semi-detached house in Singapore requires the land size to be 200 sqm (2152 sq ft) and a frontal width of at least 8m. You would need to fulfill these criteria before you can convert any inter-terrace into a semi-D.  For building a Detached or Bungalow, you would need a plot of land with a size of 400sqm (4305 sq ft) and a frontal width of 10m.

 

Our door opening ceremony (Before demolition)

The landed property we bought has a 8.3m width and the land size also fit the criteria to convert into a semi-D.  We thought with a 2700 sq ft land, it would be a huge house when fully built up. True to certain aspect because it would definitely be bigger than our current place which is less than 1200 sq ft of build-up area.  This was going to be our first landed house but instead of taking the time to source for one,  we felt hurried into getting one because of the recent frenzy in property transactions. Houses that we wanted were being offered and sold quickly (by the recent cash-rich enbloc owners).  Not that we do not like the house we bought, we love it although the time we took to find it was very short. In fact, the house “called out” to me when I was driving past to view another property.  It was kind of love at first sight not just because of the close proximity to my siblings in law (our family is very closely knitted), but the house address is our lucky no as well. The direction facing of the house is North-South facing with the unopened side facing West. Meaning no windows will get any west sun. With all these checked, we made the decision.

The house is currently in its original condition and our intention was to demolish and rebuild. We also have a tight time frame to adhere to.  So here is one of the important things you would need to take note if you are getting a landed house with the intention to rebuild and a tight time frame. You should request from the existing owner (the Seller) that you wished to conduct have a soil test and a land topography survey during the process of sale and purchase period and the Seller would need to authorise you (the Buyer) to purchase the estate plan in his name from the authorities. This would shorten the submission and approval process so that such work could be done sooner.  You should consider to highlight to the Seller that the land topography survey and soil test activities would take a minimum of 1 week to complete.

 

How soil test machine looks like

The soil tests would involve a placing a huge machine in the premise thus most owners would unlikely to agree on this if they would still staying in the premise.  I have heard from friends who are staying in landed properties that soil test could be bought from your neighbour(s) – ranging from $800 to $1000, if they had recently built the house as the soil condition in the same area would likely be of similar conditions. We decided against the idea because there might be a chance that BCA would reject such vicinity soil test and you might end up having to pay for both.  Our soil test costed us about $3000 before GST.  We regretted not talking more to neighbours or finding out more from our contractor friends to check on the statistics of the soil test in that area. Our soil test report came back with a requirement of 24m depth piling! We could not believe it as we were told by friends who are staying in the area that it was unlikely that any deep piling would be required. The architect showed us information based on the statistical data from one of the top piling companies in Singapore, that all the houses that were situated around our premise required a range of 14 to 20m of piling; thus deep piling is highly required for our plot of land (unfortunately as this would increase significant cost of the rebuilding).  Honestly, if we had checked on this earlier, we would have time to reconsider carefully before the purchase because we were informed afterwards that the cost of a 24m piling alone would be approximately $90-100k. With this cost involved, we now have to relook into our budget for our building.

an example from the internet showing how piling data within a vicinity looks like

 

Another point to take note is the sewer line and understand the effects of it. You can check if there is a sewer line cutting across your property from PUB website here.  It would cost less than $20 but you are able to obtain some important information. We only learnt about this after we placed the 1% deposit.  Our land unit has a sewer line cutting across the backyard. To rebuild, you would need a RC trench covering the sewer line which would cost approximately $20-30k.  Cost is not the only issue here but you would also be advised not to build anything above the sewer line.  The housing shelter is not allowed to be too near the sewer line too… arrgghh..  Thus the housing shelter could not be in the preferable kitchen area due to this.  So my advice is to do your homework thoroughly, check on the sewer plan from PUB website when deciding on buying a house.  Of course, this is not a key deciding factor but it could be something very helpful that could help in the planning of your building layout design and also understand the potential impact on the estimated building costs.

If you are also planning on getting a house, here are some of the things to take note.

  • The time frame for a sale and purchase completion is usually 8 to 12 weeks. Use this time preferably to concurrently do the necessary activities such as land topography survey, soil tests, purchase of building plan from authorities and coming out with the structure and layout plan for URA submission.
  • Approval for authorities takes approximately 3 months.  For demolition, piling and building works to be properly completed in place, please give yourself a 15 to 18 months buffer in case you need to rent a place to stay during this time.
  • Do check on the sewer plan for manhole and sewer line in the premise as this may affect your building and layout plans.  There may also be costs involved like having a RC trench if you have a sewer line in your house.
  • Talk to nearby neighbours or get your architect or builder friends to find out if piling work is required as this may cause a significant increase on your budget.

 

Stay tuned where I will be sharing on our layout planning next.

 

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