Is the HDB Optional Component Scheme Really Worth It? [Checklist Included]
 
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Is the HDB Optional Component Scheme Really Worth It? [Checklist Included]

Kenneth Fong
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If you’re planning to buy a new HDB BTO flat

You’ll eventually need to decide whether you want to opt-in for the OCS.

Officer Cadet School OCS Badge
Source: MINDEF

Not THAT OCS.

But the Optional Component Scheme (OCS).

It’s a cost-effective way to get your home ready — with the essential finishes and fittings — so you can move in immediately after collecting your keys.

But is the OCS worth it?

And should you opt-in for the OCS?

I gotchu fam.


TL;DR: Is the HDB Optional Component Scheme Really Worth It?

Here’s a checklist to go through before deciding if you should go for the OCS:

  • Have you considered the lifestyle of you and your occupiers?
  • Do you plan to live in the flat for the long term, or do you plan to upgrade after MOP?
  • Have you decided what your home should look like?
  • Have you seen and touched the OCS floor finishes in person at the HDB Sales Office yet?
  • Can you live with a potential issue with quality control?

If your answer is “No” to any of the above.

Then you might want to skip the OCS and wait till it’s closer to your key collection to decide how you wish to renovate your home.

If you need another perspective on this, why not ask the friendly Seedly Community for help?

Because opting into the OCS is non-refundable.

And worst case, you might even need to fork out money to remove or replace things which you don’t want (read: NOT a very financially sensible thing to do).


What Can I Expect From the HDB Optional Component Scheme?

The Optional Component Scheme (OCS) is an economical and convenient way of getting your home in move-in condition when you collect your keys.

2-Room Flexi Flat OCS

For 2-Room Flexi Flats, there are usually three different OCS packages.

Here’s what they would typically look like:

2-Room Flexi Package 1 & 2
Source: HDB

If you’re looking at Package 2 and are wondering why there is no mention of whether toilets are included…

Relax.

The plumbing and sewage system for your toilet has to be built when your flat is constructed.

Which means that your by default, your flat already comes with flush toilets installed.

Whether you choose to replace the toilet because you want one that is, say… made of gold…

Well…

That’s entirely up to you.

2-Room Flexi Package 3
Source: HDB

If you went with Package 3, you’d realise that it comes with Package 1.

This makes sense because Package 3 includes stuff like built-in kitchen cabinets and a built-in wardrobe.

In order for these Package 3 fittings to be installed, you will need your flooring to be done up first.

Which is why you’ll also have to select Package 1.

HDB is not going to halt construction and coordinate with every resident’s renovation plans in order to install Package 3 — it just doesn’t make sense.

3, 4, 5-Room, and 3Gen Flats OCS

3, 4, 5-Room and 3Gen flats will all come with wall and floor finishes in the:

  • bathrooms
  • kitchen
  • household shelter, and
  • service yard

And that’s because these are all considered wet areas.

Ken Kitchen Before Renovation
Pictured above: Your kitchen will come with floor finishes installed

Meaning HDB has to lay waterproofing before applying cement screed or installing floor finishes.

This is to prevent water from leaking through the flooring of the unit and affecting the interior of the apartment below yours.

Which is also why when you renovate your brand new BTO, you cannot hack and retile these areas for at least three years from the date of issuance of the Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP).

You may, however, lay new floor finishes over the existing floor finishes — aka overlay tiles.

With the OCS, you may opt to have floor finishes installed in the:

  • bedrooms
  • dining room, and
  • living room

If you do not select any floor finishes, you’ll be greeted with this:

Living Room Before Reno
Pictured above: my living room when I first walked in

Similar to 2-Room Flexi flats, you can also opt to have sanitary fittings installed in your bathrooms.

HDB 3, 4, 5-Room and 3Gen OCS Package
Source: HDB

You’ll also notice that internal doors and sanitary fittings come as a package.

So if you opt for the internal doors and sanitary fittings OCS package for your 4-room BTO.

You’ll get 3 bedroom doors AND 2 bathroom doors.

Along with toilets, washbasins, and shower sets.

You cannot choose to only have the sanitary fittings installed and skip the doors because you erm… somehow don’t believe in the concept of privacy…

And vice versa.

Yep.

It’s a package deal folks.


So How Much Does the HDB Optional Component Scheme Cost?

For first time homeowners, it may come as a surprise that not every BTO project will offer OCS as an option.

Here’s a look at the OCS package prices and which projects offer OCS, for the February 2020 HDB BTO Sales Launch.

Sembawang “Canberra Vista”

Canberra Vista
Source: HDB

2-Room Flexi Flat

OCS Package
(2-room Flexi Flats)
Short-Lease
(15 to 45 Years)
99-Year Lease
36sqm46sqm36sqm46sqm
Package 1
- Flooring for Living/ Dining and Bedroom
- 3-panel sliding partition separating living/dining room and bedroom
$2,470$2,270$2,470$2,270
Package 2
- Sanitary fittings (washbasin with tap mixer and shower set with bath/ shower mixer)
$520
Package 3^
- Lighting
- Window grilles
- Built-in kitchen cabinets with induction hob and cooker hood, kitchen sink, tap, & dish drying rack
- Built-in wardrobe
- Water heater
- Mirror & toilet roll holder in bathroom
$6,000$7,230Not applicable

^Buyers who opt for Package 3 must opt for Package 1 as well.

3-, 4-, 5-Room, and 3Gen Flat

OCS Package
(3-, 4-, 5-Room, and 3Gen)
3-Room4-Room5-Room3Gen
Flooring for Living/Dining and Bedrooms$3,270$4,870$5,940$6,210
Internal Doors and Sanitary Fittings$2,640$3,020$3,020$4,320

Toa Payoh “Kim Keat Ripples”

Kim Keat Ripples
Source: HDB

2-Room Flexi Flat

OCS Package
(2-room Flexi Flats)
Short-Lease
(15 to 45 Years)
36sqm45sqm/ 46sqm
Package 1
- Flooring for Living/ Dining and Bedroom
- 3-panel sliding partition separating living/dining room and bedroom
$2,380$2,230
Package 2
- Sanitary fittings (washbasin with tap mixer and shower set with bath/ shower mixer)
$520
Package 3
- Lighting
- Window grilles
- Built-in kitchen cabinets with induction hob and cooker hood, kitchen sink, tap, & dish drying rack
- Built-in wardrobe
- Water heater
- Mirror & toilet roll holder in bathroom
$6,000$6,460

4-Room Flat

OCS Package
(4-Room Flat)
4-Room
Flooring for Living/Dining and Bedrooms$4,870
Internal Doors and Sanitary Fittings$3,020

Toa Payoh “Toa Payoh Ridges”

Toa Payoh Ridges
Source: HDB

2-Room Flexi Flat

OCS Package
(2-room Flexi Flats)
Short-Lease
(15 to 45 Years)
36sqm45sqm / 46sqm
Package 1
- Flooring for Living/ Dining and Bedroom
- 3-panel sliding partition separating living/dining room and bedroom
$2,420$2,270
Package 2
- Sanitary fittings (washbasin with tap mixer and shower set with bath/ shower mixer)
$520
Package 3^
- Lighting
- Window grilles
- Built-in kitchen cabinets with induction hob and cooker hood, kitchen sink, tap, & dish drying rack
- Built-in wardrobe
- Water heater
- Mirror & toilet roll holder in bathroom
$6,000$7,230

^Buyers who opt for Package 3 must opt for Package 1 as well.

3- and 4-Room Flat

OCS Package
(3- and 4-Room Flat)
3-Room4-Room
Flooring for Living/Dining and Bedrooms$3,230$4,870
Internal Doors and Sanitary Fittings$2,640$3,020

So… Should I Opt-In to the Optional Component Scheme?

Still unsure?

Simple.

Just use this 5-step checklist I used personally.

1. What Is Your Lifestyle Like?

If you plan to live in your flat for the long term then you might want to consider putting aside some money to do up your home properly.

Disclaimer: I am NOT saying that OCS components aren’t built properly.

Consider this situation.

If you choose to opt-in for the OCS package for a 2-room flat, your kitchen will come with built-in kitchen cabinets.

But these cabinets are pretty basic and you cannot customise their configuration.

This is important if you have an aged parent – who is living with you – who loves to cook.

If you could custom build your cabinet with more pull-out drawers, your loved one would not need to bend over or kneel down just to reach into the deepest depth of the kitchen cabinet to pull out pots and pans.

Ken Kitchen Pull Out Drawers
Pictured above: consider more drawers instead of traditional cabinets and shelves, for easy access

So it might be worth skipping the OCS and eventually choosing to renovate your home to match the lifestyle of you and the other occupants.

2. Long Term? Or Short Term?

Do you plan to live in your flat for the short term, and eventually sell it after the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) to upgrade to another property?

If so, the OCS will help keep your initial cash outlay as low as possible while still creating a home which you can move-in immediately.

It might not make sense to spend a lavish amount on renovations if your first flat is not your ‘Forever Home’.

Even if you’re living in it for the long term, it doesn’t mean that you should immediately pass on the OCS.

If you would like to spend as little as possible on your home…

Maybe it’s just a place for you to crash while you go on adventures around the world.

Then yeah, it might make sense to opt-in for the OCS to create a liveable space on a budget.

3. Do You Like What You See And Touch?

I cannot stress the importance of actually going down to the HDB Sales Office to view actual samples of the living, dining, and bedroom finishes.

A friend of mine blindly opted-in for the OCS because his only concern was keeping his expenses low.

Upon key collection, he realised that the OCS living room floors were slightly slippery and eventually had to do an overlay.

This resulted in him spending even more money on top of the non-refundable amount he paid for opting-in to the OCS.

4. Do You Know What Your Home Will Look Like?

Considering that HDB BTOs take about two to three years before they are completed.

This means that you’ll only see your flat in person about three years later.

And, trust me, a lot of things could have changed by then.

A LOT.

When you first decided to opt-in for the OCS, you’re probably okay with wood vinyl strip flooring and white walls for your bedrooms.

Three years later, your ideal home might have changed from Scandinavian…

Scandinavian Bedroom
Source: @scandinavianhomes

to Industrial with cement screed floors and raw brick walls…

Industrial Study
Source: Houzz

See the problem?

Another friend of mine first opted-in for the OCS because he and his partner just started working and wanted to keep their expenses low.

Three years later, they have more disposable income on hand, and are willing to spend a little more to create their ‘Dream Home’.

Unfortunately, this means coughing up more money to remove the installed OCS fixtures like the built-in wardrobe in order to create the look that they want.

FYI: they eventually created a walk-in wardrobe instead.

5. Quality Control Might Be a Slight Problem

Since HDB units are mass-produced.

And the whole idea of the OCS is to provide an affordable way for Singaporeans to outfit their homes with the essentials…

It’s inevitable that quality control might suffer a bit.

Disclaimer: Again, I’m NOT saying that HDB flats are unsafe to live in ah

Some common complaints I have heard from friends who opted-in to the respective BTO’s OCS include:

  • Questionable quality of flooring and wall tiles
  • Workmanship problems (eg. uneven grout width)
  • Floor tile colours are not standardised (because the tiles used came from different batches)

In fact, a friend of mine reported a visible chip in the middle of one of the tiles in her living room floor.

Which could have happened if a construction worker accidentally dropped a really heavy tool on the tile in question.

After she reported it to HDB as a defect, she discovered that the tile which was used to replace the chipped tile was from a different batch.

.

.

.

Here’s a dramatic re-enactment of what she calls “The Daiji (Hokkien: Problematic) Tile Situation”:

HDB OCS Tile Replacement Situation
Pictured above: one of these things is not like the other…

Yep.

It might be a simple white porcelain tile.

But because of the way tiles are made, it’s nigh impossible for a manufacturer to assure that every single tile is of the EXACT same shade of white.

It’ll be even harder for an HDB contractor to ensure that the tiles used in your living room come from the exact same batch too.


Skip The Optional Component Scheme If You’re Unsure

The OCS is one of the very first decisions you make with regard to your HDB BTO.

And it’s a decision which has lasting ramifications.

You might be okay with whatever finishings that come with the OCS right now because you’re concerned about keeping your costs low.

But three to five years later when your income is higher and your idea of your dream home has changed.

You might find yourself regretting your decision.

Depending on the estate and the BTO project, the OCS will cost you anywhere between $5,000 to $8,000 (or more).

It might not seem like much to some.

But hey, it’s still money (and time) which you can better spend elsewhere…

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About Kenneth Fong
Editor of Seedly's blog. Owner of a 4-room HDB BTO and married to a financial clutz. Probably the closest to an adult you can find on the Seedly team.
You can contribute your thoughts like Kenneth Fong here.

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