Selecting your first BTO flat is an exciting experience that most couples will not forget in a long time to come. Getting a ballot number that allows you to head down to HDB in itself is a stroke of luck and it is a heart-wrenching experience as you watch the units getting snapped up by the couples who got an earlier ballot number. Nonetheless, before you get to the stage when you are actually sitting outside the HDB offices, there is homework which you need to do in order to shortlist a good unit in the development that you are going to choose.
It is a headache for most couples as first time buyers are quite clueless about what they should know and choose. Therefore, we have done some research on your behalf and list down 5 things that you should take note when selecting your first BTO flat.
1) Unit Orientation
The orientation of the unit affects how warm or cool the house will be when you finally move in. Generally, a north-south facing unit will be cooler because it is not facing either the morning or afternoon sun. However, do remember that such a unit will be dimmer than one which faces the east-west direction. Without the sun rays penetrating the unit, it also means that your plants (should you keep any) will not be getting any sun too! Before you make any decision, think through the pros and cons of a north-south facing unit before committing it at HDB.
How high should you stay? A general rule for HDB is the higher the better. Therefore, a higher unit will have a premium price tag to it. While the price is a definite decision factor for most couples in choosing the level of their units, there should be some considerations for the following:
Top floor: The top floor is often a popular choice for couples who like their privacy but they tend to forget that the unit will be hotter than the rest because the sun is constantly shining on their ceilings during the day. At the same time, the ceiling will have a higher wear and tear rate due to exposure to the elements and might crack or leak after a few years.
Low floor: The low floor lovers favour the fact that they are not at the mercy of the lifts. Climbing the stairs to the third or fourth floor is a lot less tiring than climbing to the twentieth floor. It is also convenient to keep an eye out for children who are playing downstairs. Being on the low floor also brings the advantage of paying a lower price for the flat. However, do remember that being on a lower floor means less privacy as people can easily peep into your house. Pests such as cockroaches will also find their way to your house faster than those who stay at a higher floor.
3) Corner Unit
Corner units are popular because they offer greater privacy to the owners. It prevents your neighbours from walking pass your unit but at the same time, allows you to walk pass theirs every time you leave or return home. The BTO flats are now build in a way that all the houses appear to be a corner unit. However, in actual fact, they are not. When you choose a unit that is next to another unit, you need to check if your unit is the one furthest away from the lift lobby. If it is not, then your unit is not a corner unit. One other way to check is to see the space in front of your unit. If there is a small space in which you can call your own completely, it is a corner unit. If the space in front of your unit is completely communal, your unit is not a corner one.
4) Distance from the next block
This distance is crucial if you are not keen to show your neighbours what you are eating for dinner. In most new BTO, the distance from one block to another is extremely close which makes privacy a myth. When selecting your unit, you should look at the distance from the unit you are interested in to the units found in the next nearest block. This distance should be comfortable for you. If you are not careful about your choice, you might end up having to keep your blinds or curtains close forever.
5) Taking the offer for Optional Component Scheme from HDB
This should be considered with utmost seriousness. If you are someone who is fussy and cannot accept minor flaws in your tiling, skirting or wall, we will suggest that you DO NOT take up the option offered by HDB. If you do take it up, remember to close an eye to minor flaws. The tiles, skirting and fixtures are not going to be perfect, so lower your expectations and keep them within reasonable ranges. While the package from HDB can save you quite a bit of money from your renovation cost, do remember that you might end up hacking the tiles and redoing it completely if HDB is unable to rectify the flaws you find unbearable. That will add to your renovation cost instead.
Selecting a flat is a commitment of at least 5 years so we hope that the tips above are helpful to you and give you more ideas on how to choose a preferred unit in your BTO project.