Leave no stone (read: defect) unturned.
Getting an HDB flat move-in ready isn’t just about hunting for a comfortable bed/sofa/table or scouring the Internet for renovation ideas. If you overlook the defects inspection stage, you could face issues such as surface cracks or squeaky hinges after arriving at your new home.
Before you head down to your flat though, here’s a handy overview to help you get familiarised with the various (unwelcome) defects that you might find there, as well as the steps in the home inspection process – from checking for faults to reporting and rectification.
Keep reading to the end for a downloadable PDF checklist that you can take with you for a thorough inspection!
What defects are covered for newly finished HDB flats?
If you’re a new homeowner, the most important thing to know is that your HDB flat will be covered under a warranty within the 1-year Defects Liability Period (DLP), starting from the date of key collection.
You should report defects to your estate’s Building Service Centre (BSC) within 30 days of key collection, before your renovation works begin.
This is because investigating whose works caused the defects (HDB’s building contractor or your ID/contractor) and deciding which party should carry out the repairs can complicate matters.
BTO defects checklist: areas to inspect
First off, check whether the keys work on all the doors in your flat. Don’t forget to test the letterbox keys too!
For sliding doors in areas like the bathroom, service yard and kitchen, check if they slide smoothly along the track and close snugly. There should also be no squeaking sounds when the door is being opened and closed.
In the case of hinged doors and the main gate, do also check to see if the frame and door/gate leaf (the movable panel) are flushed and aligned when closed.
Don’t miss out on inspecting all the handles/latches either.
Start with checking whether the windows open and close smoothly: the gap between the window and the frame when closed should not be more than 5 mm. If the windows are squeaky, note it down.
Similar to the doors, make sure the handles and flush bolts aren’t loose and that they turn and lock properly.
Be sure to inspect the window rubber seals (also known as ‘gaskets’) too; these are meant to protect from the weather.
Examine if they fit well and whether the sealant keeping them in place is damaged.
You can spot problems more easily on rainy days, as you’ll likely find wet patches around the frame and on the floor/walls due to the rainwater leaking in.
3. Lights and electrical sockets
Before you head down to your unit, make sure to activate your utility account so you can test things like the electricity and plumbing, and for your ID/contractor to carry out works.
Apart from that, you should test each power socket – easily done with your mobile charger – and your switches as well. If the sockets are misaligned and/or loose, make a note as well.
4. Plumbing and sanitary fittings
Next, move on to inspecting the plumbing in wet areas. Turn on the taps, faucets and showers; let them run for a while to check if they’re working well.
Another crucial task: checking whether the water drains well from your bathroom floor. If your BTO flat doesn’t come with showers installed, fix a water hose to your tap and flood the bathroom floor.
As for your sanitary fittings, check whether the toilets flush properly and how long the water tank takes to fill up. On average, it should take between 3 to 5 minutes.
Inspect every nook and cranny of your sanitary fittings (including under washbasins) to check for cracks.
Take a closer look around the base of the fittings as well to see if there’s any seepage.
Depending on the type of flooring in your home, there are different things to look out for.
For flooring with wood finishes, the tonality of planks should look consistent throughout your home.
Likewise, for ceramic, marble and granite floor finishes, you might encounter tone variations.
However, these ‘defects’ – along with open veins and pinholes (formation of air pockets) – aren’t always the result of faulty manufacturing or workmanship and could simply be natural (and fixable) characteristics inherent to these finishes.
One more thing to look out for is tile hollowness (both floor and walls): this indicates an adhesive problem between the tile and substrate, which can lead to tiles ‘popping’ or bulging over time.
To check, you can easily get a tapping rod from e-commerce sites or local hardware stores, or use a marble/coin to tap tiles.
Regardless of the flooring finish or tile used (wood, ceramic, marble, granite or otherwise), there should be no visible cracks, chip-offs or scratches visible from a distance of 1.5m.
Additionally, after the defects are patched up, carefully check if the touched-up area(s) closely match the existing material’s colour.
6. Walls and ceiling
After inspecting your flooring, the rest of the surfaces you’re left with are the walls and the ceiling.
As with floor cracks, the surface of your wall should be visually smooth and free of defects from a distance of about 1.5m. If a wall is tiled (e.g. bathroom walls), the tile joints should be straight and consistent.
The last step is to check against a spirit level to identify any slanted or uneven walls.
The surface is level as long as the bubble in the spirit level is between the guidelines in the vertical or horizontal vials; if it’s leaning to the left or right out of the guidelines, the surface is sloping in that direction.
If your ceiling has been painted, it should be free of brush marks and there shouldn’t be any dampness, patchiness or inconsistent colours.
Likewise, there shouldn’t be any cracks, chipping (which can be caused when water from a leak enters a fresh coat of paint) or pinholes (small craters that form in paint during the drying process).
Short-lease 2-room Flexi flats also come with elderly-friendly fittings like built-in kitchen cabinets and a built-in bedroom wardrobe.
For all these, inspect the laminates for any peeling, scratches, chips and stains. Do also open and close the doors to check on the hinges and to see if the door and frame are aligned properly.
8. Other things to check
Whether they are hinge mechanisms, hinge screws, door handles, window hinges or shower handles, make sure that all of your new HDB flat’s fittings are free of rust and stains.
Do also check on your laundry rack’s mechanisms and the water quality at home.
How to inspect your flat, report defects and get them rectified
While the list above illustrates common defects that you might encounter during a check, it is by no means exhaustive, so it’s important that you go over all of your HDB flat’s surfaces, rooms and fittings with a fine-tooth comb to fix out all the kinks.
Likewise, checking all of your home’s pipes and nearby surfaces (ceiling and walls) for dampness could help you identify an early ceiling leak or water seepage issue, if there’s one. These could affect the structural integrity of your home if the issue isn’t resolved.
After you discover a fault, be sure to mark it out with tape and take a photo. For convenience, you can take notes of the defects in this comprehensive and downloadable BTO defects checklist. When you’ve consolidated your flat’s defects, submit them to your estate’s BSC or via HDB InfoWeb.
Following this, the BSC will arrange a joint inspection to verify the items reported and assign contractor(s) to carry out the rectification.
This way, any defects can be resolved before your renovation begins and ensures your moving-in plans stay on track!
This article was originally adapted from MyNiceHome on 16 November 2020, HDB’s official website for all things related to home buying and renovation in Singapore, and updated on 31 October 2023.