New homeowners and caretakers, take note!
Given that they have a lease of 99 years, HDB flats are built to last. However, keeping yours in tip-top condition is a whole other matter.
Unless you’re a domestic goddess who has knowledge in all things home maintenance, you’ll probably need some help with caring for your flat. So, to give you a hand, here’s a list of 7 important features that come with brand-new BTO flats – plus useful tips on how to inspect and maintain them!
1. Vinyl flooring and skirting
Don’t use too much water and have adequate cushioning. While the vinyl flooring in your new BTO flat is water-resistant, it’s important to keep in mind that the best way to clean it is with a slightly damp mop. Using too much water can result in surface discolouration or moisture seepage via the seams.
Likewise, if you’ve a flexible seating configuration (read: are constantly shifting your furniture about), it doesn’t hurt to be a little more cautious; consider attaching felt pads to the base of your chair/sofa/table legs to guard against knocks and scratches.
Keep your doors dry and covered up. Timber doors can last a long time, but that’s only provided if they’re properly cared for. Some precautions that you might want to take include installing a shower screen to prevent your bathroom doors from getting wet and using protection (e.g., plastic covers, cardboard) when moving or renovating your home.
3. Floor tiles
Pay attention to the grout. Yes, it’s important to care for tile surfaces, but don’t forget about the grouts (the thin lines of cement between individual tile panels). These joint sealants are responsible for keeping dirt from getting between tiles and buffering the expansion/contraction of tile pieces when the weather gets too hot/cold.
To care for tile grouts, simply clean them every once a week (or when necessary) with a toothbrush/soft scrubbing brush and a suitable tile cleaning solution.
Use the right load anchors. Keeping them dust-free is certainly one way that you can care for the drywalls (or if you prefer, partition walls) in your home, but it’s also equally important to use them the right way.
Picking out the right anchor screws before mounting any heavy fixtures, like TVs or cabinets, enables a drywall to support its load properly, and thus ensure its structural integrity in the long run.
5. Laundry rack
Simply use it properly. Anyone who has lived in an HDB flat in the ‘80s and ‘90s will likely remember hanging their laundry out to dry using bamboo poles, but that’s no longer a thing, at least in new BTO flats that come with retractable indoor hanging racks.
As with any home fixture, proper use is the most basic step of caring for your drying rack – keep in mind that you’ve to unlock the rack first by pulling the strap at a 45-degree angle. And remember, don’t yank!
6. Home fire alarm device
Check if it’s working from time-to-time. The home fire alarm device (or HFAD) is a ceiling-mounted warning system which triggers an alarm when smoke is detected – hence keeping it in working condition means ensuring your personal safety as well.
You can check if the HFAD is functioning by pressing the Test/Reset button on the front of the device. If it’s working, a light will blink, and an alarm will sound. To stop the alarm, press and hold the Test/Reset button again.
7. Toilet bowl
The dual-flush WCs installed in new BTO flats might be more water-efficient than regular toilet bowls, but you’ll still have to clean them regularly for a hygienic and functional bathroom.
Though it’s important to focus your cleaning efforts on the WC pan (for obvious reasons), it’ll do you good to pay attention to the cistern/water tank as well. Check it occasionally to ensure there’s no mould growing inside, and if you’d like, drop in a cleaning solution tablet for good measure.