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Hi All

Love this forum and the expert opinions!

As a newbie wanted to get some advice on the following.

My husband and I have found a potential 2.5 storey Semi-D we are interested in. Floor area is around 3500 Sqft. Built up now around 4700. The problem is it is neither here nor there. It is also at a price point where it is too expensive to tear down and do a complete rebuild, and hence we are hoping to get away with an A&A.

The house was built in 1992, the exterior is colonial and timeless hence we are happy to keep it. The general layout of the first floor (ratio of setback, ratio of indoor/outdoor) is also something we are happy to adhere too. But there are several alterations we wanted to make. The exterior is a tiled roof house and we are wondering how to keep to this design whilst modifying some areas.

1) Reducing the height of the 1st floor - currently the height is > 3m. In fact, this will likely involve changing the height of all 3 storeys - reduce 1st floor, extending height of 2nd and 3rd floor

2) Flattening all floors (since it was built in the 90s, there are a lot of split levels in the bathrooms, bedrooms etc)

3) Extending the 0.5 storey - currently the top 0.5 storey is really minuscule, and part of the reason is also because of the exterior "Roof" of the house which eats into the balcony space of the 2nd floor and the 0.5 top storey. Hence it does not fully maximise the space compared to the new rebuilds that we see now with flat roofs, balcony on 2nd floor etc

4) Are we allowed to modify structural room/sinks/bathrooms/kitchen layouts as much as possible as long as we are not "extending" the place by GFA?

5) Taking away roof tilings for the 2nd and 0.5 storey

Is it possible to extend the attic for houses built in 1990? Or will we have to repile

We love the location and the road but it would be awful if we bided for the house only to find out that a total reconstruction is what is needed to achieve our dream house.  

Looking forward to as much expertise opinion and advice we can get!!

Thanks in advance :)

 

 

 

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1. you can't reduced the height of the various storeys without a complete rebuilt. usually people opt to have a high ceiling for the ground floor to make the house look more spacious (luxurious?) and also provide more ventilation. this is why many houses are built with first storey up to about 4.5m high which was based on the old regulations.

2. not sure what you meant by many split levels. if you are referring to the 50mm drop between the bedrooms and bathrooms, then this is actually normal. of cos you can opt to top up the bathroom floor to have it flushed with the bedrooms. but the 50mm drop is there to prevent water from flowing into the bedroom just in case there are pipe leaks or overflow from the toilet/shower.

3. whether you can extend the attic or not depends on the current building height. for a 2 storey landed housing zone, you are limited to 12m in total height for the entire building. so if the house currently already exceeds 12m (old regulations for 2 storey is up to 13.1m, 4.5 first storey, 3.6 2nd storey, 5m attic), then you will lose space for your attic if you choose to redo your roof. of cos if the existing building height is less than 12m, then you could extend the roof up until the max allowed to gain the space. Old regulations require a pitched roof of which one end touches the edge of the top of the 2nd storey which is why the design eats into the 2nd storey balcony. The current guidelines don't require the roof to touch the 2nd storey but the roof still needs to be contained within a 45 degrees profile at both ends. However do note that when you touch your roof, it will be termed as a reconstruction instead of an A&A which means you pay $6420 instead of $3210 to URA for submission fees.

4. no limit on redoing the layouts of the interior. only limit is how deep is your pocket. do note that doing major shifting of any bathrooms, kitchen could mean running new waste pipes and water pipes.

5. if you want to remove the root tiles, not an issue. just that if you want to maintain the colonial design, you need to find a new roofing material and design which still looks good with the current house overall looks. so you may need to get an architect to advise you on this.

6. refer back to answer 3 above on the extending of the roof.

 
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On 6/21/2020 at 6:52 PM, snoozee said:

1. you can't reduced the height of the various storeys without a complete rebuilt. usually people opt to have a high ceiling for the ground floor to make the house look more spacious (luxurious?) and also provide more ventilation. this is why many houses are built with first storey up to about 4.5m high which was based on the old regulations.

2. not sure what you meant by many split levels. if you are referring to the 50mm drop between the bedrooms and bathrooms, then this is actually normal. of cos you can opt to top up the bathroom floor to have it flushed with the bedrooms. but the 50mm drop is there to prevent water from flowing into the bedroom just in case there are pipe leaks or overflow from the toilet/shower.

3. whether you can extend the attic or not depends on the current building height. for a 2 storey landed housing zone, you are limited to 12m in total height for the entire building. so if the house currently already exceeds 12m (old regulations for 2 storey is up to 13.1m, 4.5 first storey, 3.6 2nd storey, 5m attic), then you will lose space for your attic if you choose to redo your roof. of cos if the existing building height is less than 12m, then you could extend the roof up until the max allowed to gain the space. Old regulations require a pitched roof of which one end touches the edge of the top of the 2nd storey which is why the design eats into the 2nd storey balcony. The current guidelines don't require the roof to touch the 2nd storey but the roof still needs to be contained within a 45 degrees profile at both ends. However do note that when you touch your roof, it will be termed as a reconstruction instead of an A&A which means you pay $6420 instead of $3210 to URA for submission fees.

4. no limit on redoing the layouts of the interior. only limit is how deep is your pocket. do note that doing major shifting of any bathrooms, kitchen could mean running new waste pipes and water pipes.

5. if you want to remove the root tiles, not an issue. just that if you want to maintain the colonial design, you need to find a new roofing material and design which still looks good with the current house overall looks. so you may need to get an architect to advise you on this.

6. refer back to answer 3 above on the extending of the roof.

You're awesome! Thank you so much. Just wanted to clarify a few points

1) Changing the heights of each floor will mean a new erection? Or could this still pass off as a reconstruction. That means we do not have to tear everything down? And do you have any idea how this might change building costs from a contractors point of view?

2) The existing house was A&A in 1992. The height of the 2.5 storey is 15m limit if I'm not mistaken, which it is now. If possible we want to keep to this existing height which is no longer allowed. The only thing is that the triangular roof tile on the attic take up a lot of space. We are thinking of removing this triangular roof tile to create a "square" attic floor (the last 0.5 storey in a 2.5 storey house) with balcony etc as many new houses are doing as that maximises the overall space. So instead of changing the height, if possible we want to keep to the possibility of the old height but expand it (as it is now fully maximised now)

 

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1. To URA, reconstruction or new erection have not much difference in fees as you still need to pay $6420. They are more concerned for reconstruction being hidden as A&A as A&A fees are 50% lesser. When a building is constructed, there are columns and beams (i'm excluding the underground foundation beams, etc for now as they are not relevant for now) above the ground. the beams have rebars which are tied back to the columns and the floor is usually cast together with the beams as the floor rebars are tied back to the beams. these columns and beams are the main structural components of your house. if you want to change the height of the storeys, there must be a way to create new structural beams to tie back to the existing columns so that the new floor can be cast. unless you want to create a new set of structural components around the existing ones to create the new floors in which case it would be better just to tear down the entire house and rebuilt. Whether you can reuse the existing columns for the new beams and floor slabs, etc would still need to be determined by a PE which would need to look at the existing plans for the house's foundation, etc.
honestly speaking, if you are looking at such drastic changes as in changing the height of the storeys, you might as well just do a complete rebuilt. Because once you are done tearing down the floors, stairs, etc, you are basically left with some columns and underground beams, etc. If you want to want to add mezzanine floor to your new house and/or lift shaft, and if the existing foundation cannot support the new structure, you would need do built new foundation or strengthen the existing foundation which adds on to the cost.
Another important point to note is whether the neighbour's house was built at the same time as your target house or not. if the 2 houses are built at the same time, there is a very very high chance that both houses share 1 set of columns along the shared party wall. this means that if you choose to redo the floor heights, you have no choice but to create a new set of foundation and columns for your own house as you can't hack the shared columns for you to tie the new beams back to it.

2. not sure where you got your 15m from. below is a picture from URA guidelines from 2011 which indicates the max allowed height of the storeys for a 2 storey landed house. The current max height limit is 12m. there is no way URA would allow you to retain the current height of the house once you change the roof profile. Their answer to you is that you have to follow the existing regulations. it doesn't matter what was done in the past as old regulations can't be applied anymore. If you want to "flatten" your roof, then you can only keep it within the red dotted lines which I've indicated in the 2nd picture as this is the current building envelope that URA allows for landed houses. So you can have a flat roof on top and then have open balconies at the areas where the slopping lines are at. Assuming the existing attic is 5m high from floor to the peak, you would need to drop it down by 1.1m. but your attic would still have a height of more than 3m internally which would be more than comfortable.

When you do house hunting, you should have a clear idea of what you are looking for. The problem with houses which are neither here or there is that they are at a price point where you are paying for a "move-in" condition but you cannot afford/unwilling to rebuild the entire house. With these type of houses, you should either just have the mindset of doing a simple renovation and move in or just forget about it and move on to another house. If you have dreams of having a "perfect" house that fits all your needs, then you should be looking for a run-down original condition house and just pay for the land and do a rebuilt after that. Work out a proper budget to include expenses AFTER you sign the OTP. To do a decent A&A, you may need to spend 100k or up depending on your needs. A reconstruction could easily cost 400K and up. A full rebuilt could be 900K and up for a inter terrace and more than 1M for a semi-d and corner terrace.

 

 

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You are simply brilliant and amazing. Thank you for all of your help. Can I ask what’s your background? I almost want you to build my house haha! You’ve been more helpful than anyone we have spoken to. My husband and I are so grateful 

 

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I'm just a regular home owner whose house has been delayed by the whole COVID19 situation. Am curious enough to read into all the various regulations and such so that I am not mislead by anyone be it the contractor, consultants or authorities.

In construction, "no" may not be a clear cut rejection. it could mean "it could be done but depends on situations". It's really up to one to push the limits in terms of design, engineering and also the regulations. So if one has zero knowledge of what is going on, he/she would only be at the mercy of whoever is making the decision for them instead of being part of the decision making process which is what I prefer to be part of.

 

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hi snooze.. can i check how long is the current delay and what is the contractor "promising" in terms of delivery? do u then need to seek additional approval for a later TOP and what does that impact?

 

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peachpeach, with the whole COVID19 situation, contractors are indemnified against any claims (due to delays) towards them due to the CB and subsequent restart. There is no promises whatsoever from my contractor as manpower is a major issue right now besides the requirements put in place by BCA on sites. The agreement I have with my main contractor is to complete the house in the safest and fastest manner while adhering to all the requirements from the authorities. There's no point in trying to rush and have many workers on site just to have it shutdown when the authorities come to spot check.

When BCA announced work was allowed to resume on 2 June for projects which were stopped due to the CB, they had limited landed housing projects to only 10 workers and 1 activity on site. This has now been relaxed to not limiting the number of activities but safe distancing measures need to be in place. Also, workers need to be swabbed every 14 days so that means every 2 weeks, there would be 0.5 day lost due to workers needing to go for swab test.

As mentioned, manpower is the big problem now. SP was supposed to put my new incoming electrical cable during the week when CB started. As of now, they still don't know when they can do it as their sub-contractor's workers are still locked down in the dormitories. Some of my other subcons also have workers stuck in dormitories so there's no choice but to wait.

For the bank side, we had to request for an extension of TOP and CSC during the CB. My original TOP date was April 2020 but I had gotten my architect to submit a letter to the lawyers to request the TOP date to be extended to end of the year instead. With the whole situation, we don't know when exactly the house can get TOP so better to extend as far as possible. Else the lawyers will just charge you for every extension request they process on your behalf.

The major impact is of cos financially I have to still pay the higher interest rates for the construction loan until I can get TOP. This would add on to a few thousand dollars at least. For those home owners who are renting, they would most likely need to extend their rental place and incur more financial losses.

For my project, we are at about 95% done already. However if SP can't pull in my new incoming cable, I just have to wait until they can do it before I can apply for TOP. With these delays, I would most likely be going straight for CSC instead of TOP first. What was originally about 3 weeks more of work is now looking to be at least 2 months of work with all the restrictions and limitations in place. Sigh....

 

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I think URA will still continue to issue approvals for new houses. BCA I’m not too sure. But even if BCA issues permits, problem is whether contractors has workers to start the jobs or not. There are some housing projects near where I’m staying now which has not resumed work as of now. So availability of manpower is the main problem, not so much of whether authorities allow or not. 

 

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