Mould growth on HDB flats in Sengkang, Punggol: study to be commissioned

National Development Minister says study seeks to find out why some HDB blocks are more susceptible to mould growth

Mould growth on the exterior facade of HDB flats in Sengkang. (PHOTO: Facebook)
Mould growth on the exterior facade of HDB flats in Sengkang. (PHOTO: Facebook)

SINGAPORE — The Housing Development Board (HDB) will be commissioning an independent study on mould growth seen in flats in Sengkang and Punggol, following recent complaints by residents on the mould-stained exteriors of their flats.

In a written reply to four Parliamentary questions on Monday (6 February), National Development Minister Desmond Lee said the independent study will seek to find out why some HDB blocks are more susceptible to mould growth, and will include recommendations to remedy the situation and prevent future recurrence.

The study is expected to take three to four months.

"Depending on the outcome of the assessment commissioned by HDB, the Singapore Standards Council will assess the need to further review the relevant standards, on top of the periodic review carried out every five to eight years to ensure their relevance," said Mr Lee.

Mould growth doesn't affect structure

Last month, residents had put up Facebook posts showing the mould growths on the exterior of their flats, which were completed about six years ago. One resident commented that the mould-stained walls gave off a "haunted house" feel, and that the town council told her that she would have to wait two more years to get a fresh coat of paint.

HDB has assessed that the mould growth observed for affected blocks does not affect structural components and poses no risks to the structural integrity of the building.

Responding to Nominated MP Dr Shahira Abdullah's question on whether there are any health risks associated with prolonged exposure to mould, Mr Lee said the impact of mould on one's health would be less arising from mould on the facades than mould found indoors.

"The level of risk faced by an individual is influenced by the individual’s activity patterns and proximity to mould, including the duration for which the individual is exposed to the mould, as well as the individual’s current health, such as whether he or she has any chronic illnesses," he said.

Recommended schedule for repair, redecoration works is 7 years

Currently, newly-completed HDB flats handed over to town councils for maintenance and management have a six-year warranty period for external painting, which covers defects such as peeling paint, discolouration and mould.

The recommended schedule for town councils to carry out repair and redecoration works is seven years. Nonetheless, Ms Lee said that town councils have the discretion to decide whether to slightly advance or defer such works beyond the recommended schedule.

The external walls of all HDB developments are painted with one coat of water-based sealer and two coats of algae-resistant emulsion paint. This complies with industry standards commonly used for buildings in Singapore, and have been used in numerous other HDB projects near water bodies, where no such incidents of mould growth have been identified.

Since last year, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) also implemented the Periodic Facade Inspection regime, whereby buildings over 20 years old and over 13 metres in height must be inspected by a trained professional every seven years.

BCA is also conducting a study on the impact of changing climatic and weather conditions on the service life of facade materials.

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