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Claim land at back of house, drain, basement

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Hi all! Thanks for all the advice

There is a small patch of grass behind a semi-d I want to purchase, roughly 20 sqm. Agent says it can be purchased. Any idea how I can check if it can be purchased?  Our semi-d twin did not purchase it but other neighbours along the road/street seem to have this land (not claimed by themselves, rather that it seemed to be included from the beginning when I look at the masterplan).

Another thing is that how can I check if its possible to dig a basement for a house? Whats the best way to check this before putting in an offer, only to realise there are many limitations when building a home?

Lastly, for houses that have a large drain running at the front, is there anything we can do legally to cover it up? 

Thank you :) 


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Buy the SLA cadestral map for the house to see where is the actua boundary and whether the grass patch is within your boundary or not. If outside, then have to check with SLA on whether it can be purchased. 
Building a basement would cost a few hundred k more in construction cost. Make sure you have the budget first. 
buy the PUB SIP and DIP plans to see if there’s and sewer running through your house and whether your house affected by drainage reserves then you can decide on where to place the basement. 
the front drain in front if it’s outside your boundary, you can cover it up at your own cost subject to authorities approval. But why waste this money? Unless you have a problem building a driveway, then just cover up where you need. Don’t waste the money to cover up a public drain if you don’t need to. Money can be better used for your own house. 


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First step would be to determine whether the grass patch is within your boundary. You can visit the SLA one map website (www.onemap.sg) to see the land lot sizes in that area and compare the house with the neighbours. If the land lot size of the house and the neighbours who have extended are the same, than it might be already part of existing house. If their lot is bigger and there is a separate land lot for where the grass patch behind is, than likely it is not part of the existing house. It may be considered as remnant state land (check the ownership at onemap too) and it may be possible to parcel out the portion directly abutting the land you are looking to purchase. To confirm whether it can be done, you will need to write in to SLA to check whether they can allow the purchase. They have many considerations - whether they are saving it for future drainage development etc. 

As for whether it is feasible to build a basement, there are many considerations which can affect the cost:

1) Sewer Lines - whether there are any sewer pipes running through the land. If there is, it will affect the extent of the basement that can be built. As what Snozee has said above, you can purchase the SIP and DIP (Sewerage Interpretation Plan/Drainage Interpretation Plan) from PUB to find out. It costs only $14 each, so definitely worth it to purchase before bidding for a house that can cost millions. The depth of the sewer also (how far down it is below the ground) will also affect how near the basement can be built to it if you really want to have the maximum basement size. The deeper the pipe, the more distance the basement has to be away from the sewer.

2) Land Profile - If there is a steep sloping land profile, for example the land at the rear is higher than the front, It will be considered as 1st storey at the front but instead considered as the basement at the rear. It is a bit complicated to explain through words but the general idea is that the cost of construction, definition and therefore extent of whether it is a basement/1st storey depends on the land profile.

3) Area at which the house is located. Certain areas in Singapore (Example east coast area) are naturally below the PUB stipulated "anti-flood" level of 4m above the mean sea level. As such during any reconstruction, the 1st storey will have to be raised to the minimum height. As in the process of doing this raising of the first storey, you get a "free basement", which the construction cost is much cheaper than a standard "dig to achieve" basement. You can see the tanjong katong area houses (Branksome Road, Bournmouth Road etc) to understand what is meant by an elevated 1st storey and "free basement".

To cover up the drains at the front of the house - yes can be done but you will need to get PUB's approval and the costs will be paid by yourself. It will not be as simple as "covering it up". In the process of covering it up, you will be required to make good any defects (cracks, insufficient gradient, sunken spots where water is ponding etc). You will also need to pay for the structural/civil engineer's services to design/check the drain before doing any work. It is not cheap so yes, only recommend to do so if you really dislike the open drain or if it is necessary while enlarging the culvert/drive way etc.

Each land often has its own unique site condition, so actually the best route would be to get a professional (experienced contractor or an architect) to advice you  on the feasibility/limitations of developing the land before putting up an offer. 

Hope all the above helps!


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