Friday, December 14, 2012

Increase in BTO flats stretches contractors' resources


SINGAPORE: Contractors say resources are being stretched following the move to increase the supply of Build-To-Order flats in the last two years.

But they said this has driven them to be more productive.

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) said it is also working closely with contractors to ensure that they deliver their projects on time, if not earlier.

More than 27,000 Build-To-Order flats were launched this year - a record for the HDB and also a record number for contractors to build.

And there are some challenges involved.

Mr Derick Pay, Director of Tiong Seng Contractors, said: "With the man-year entitlement cut, especially the shortage of labour and subcontractors, in a way we are being driven to improve our productivity. You don't have enough workers to work to construct the project as per normal construction methods. With that we have to use a system that does not rely on skilled workers, and more so that does not rely on so many workers at all."

For construction to be carried out in this way, mechanisation is being promoted.

For example, only two workers are now needed to operate lifts, making it easier to work at high levels compared to the manpower needed to set up scaffolds or gondolas.

HDB has also encouraged the use of such equipment in its projects tendered since May this year.

A partition wall system to build internal walls is also being used. It makes construction about five times faster than using bricks.

Improving productivity also means making good use of resources. For example, a driveway can be made by using pre-fabricated concrete and each concrete slab can be easily transported to project sites.

This is also part of HDB's effort to get more contractors to adopt more green construction practices.

An automated washing system using recycled water also cuts cleaning time from 20 minutes to just five.

But it's not just about ramping up quantity. HDB said quality can also be assured.

Ms Lim Chuen Huei, Deputy Director of Development and Construction Productivity at HDB, said: "We implemented a stringent quality management system, and working together with the contractors, and we have adopted CONQUAS scoring system that is administrated by BCA. CONQUAS is a measurement of quality for both private and public projects. And we'll continue to ensure a high CONQUAS score."

And HDB hopes to increase productivity by 20 per cent by 2020.


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