HDB BTO Defects Guide – 8 Things To Look Out For When You Get The Keys To Your New Flat

20 June 2023 | BY

This handy BTO defects guide covers 8 important areas to watch for, from cracked ceilings to clogged drains and beyond.

HDB BTO defects checklist

The exhilaration of stepping into your very own home is an experience like no other. But collecting your BTO keys doesn’t mean your renovation starts that very second, there’s still the critical task of making sure the workmanship of your spanking new flat meets general expectations and doesn’t incur you more costs when renovation rolls around. Here’s a comprehensive HDB BTO defects guide to help you ensure that your new flat is 100% problem-free.

Things to check in the bathrooms

Leaking sanitary fixtures

HDB BTO defect guide - check for leaking sanitary fixturesImage credit: Hardware Zone

Water in Singapore ain’t cheap. To avoid getting a shockingly inflated water bill as a result of undetected leaks, one of the first things you’ll want to check is whether or not all the sanitary fixtures in your new BTO are in perfect working order. This means going into every bathroom and turning every faucet and shower head on for good measure.

hImage credit: Superior Drainage

Checking if water flows out of these fixtures well is one thing, it’s equally important to check for any signs of persistent water dripping when the faucets are turned off.

More than just preventing water wastage, persistent leaks can usually balloon into more serious problems such as structural issues from water damage and mould.

Damaged pipes

BTO defects - unaligned pipesImage credit: HDB

Take a look at the pipes for leakages as well. Sanitary pipes in toilets with uneven seals may cause leakages which will result in slow or no discharge of wastewater. Detecting damaged pipes early in the game will save you a whole lot of headaches further down the line – especially once the 1-month defects reporting window closes, replacing those damaged pipes will then become your financial burden to bear.

And here’s one more thing to know: even after all the defects are rectified, once you move into your new home, it becomes your responsibility to maintain the sanitary branch pipes. Regular maintenance and checking for leaks will go a long way in ensuring your pipes last as long as they’re supposed to!

Clogged drains

After the construction of a BTO flat, it is natural for some debris to accumulate, and although the visible ones are typically removed before handing over the keys, there might still be hidden debris that you need to discover.

It is essential to thoroughly inspect all the drains in your home to ensure they are free from any remnants that could potentially clog your showers.

BTO defects - clogged drainImage credit: @carefulcouple

Inefficient water drainage and disruptions during your showers can often be traced back to one main culprit: improper installation of drainage pipes. When these pipes are not aligned or connected correctly, or if construction flaws are present, they can impede the smooth flow of water and lead to troublesome clogs. 

Addressing these issues at the installation stage is crucial for ensuring efficient water drainage and a hassle-free showering experience in the future.

BTO defects - ponding testImage credit: @defect.inspector.malaysia

Seasoned homeowners will always conduct the classic ponding test: where you pour a pail of water onto your bathroom floor and determine if the water drains effectively.

Things to check in all living areas

The bathrooms are typically the easiest areas to identify defects, as most are visually obvious. But, the remainder 70% of the unit consists of other spaces where more intricate and challenging defects may be present and harder to detect.

Loose window handles

BTO defects - loose window handlesImage credit: Carousell

When it comes to checking the windows, a simple glance to detect cracked glass is not enough. One big defect that always surfaces is loose window handles. Your windows will probably be closed when you first sashay into your BTO, but take the time to open and close each one, all the while looking out for whether or not your windows creak, shake or don’t seal shut.

Faulty switch buttons

BTO defects - jammed switchesImage credit: @carefulcouple

Time for the anxious individual’s dream activity: switch-flipping to your heart’s content, making sure they work seamlessly. It’s also important for first-time homeowners to register for an SP account prior to the defects check to ensure your flat has electricity and running water to even conduct these checks.

BTO defects - faulty switchesImage credit: Thor Electrician Singapore

Finding a switch with a jammed button can be a buzzkill, but HDB will be able to rectify all of them with no extra charge.

Hairline wall cracks or bumps

Take a closer look, those cracks on your wall are definitely not some fancy marble stone effect sponsored by HDB. While most BTOs get a total facelift, it’s important to note that HDB is still responsible for delivering you a unit that has pristine walls – and by that we mean no dents, cracks or water stains.

BTO defects - marked out defectsImage credit: @home.swee.home

Grab a spirit level and use it to see if all your surfaces are perfectly levelled. Here’s a helpful tip: if you come across any imperfections, use a piece of coloured tape to mark the spot. This will make it easier to locate for you to remember their placements and for when HDB comes to rectify them. 

BTO defects - wall defectsImage credit: @carefulcouple

We also recommend checking near floors and doorways for any signs of chips or uneven sealing. This is probably the most taxing task but remember, a little diligence goes a long way – especially if you only have light reno in mind.


Cracks: Cracks can form on the ceiling due to structural movements during construction and changes in temperature. Whether they are hairline cracks or severe fractures, it’s still important to raise the issue. 

BTO defects - ceiling cracksImage credit: Homes and Gardens

The size, location, and nature of the cracks will determine if they are merely cosmetic or indicative of more serious structural issues.

BTO defects - peeling paintImage credit: The Tidy Painter

Peeling Paint or Plaster: Inadequate priming of surfaces and poor workmanship can cause the paint or plaster on the ceiling to peel or flake off, exposing an unsightly patch. 

Water Stains: Leaks from above units can cause water stains if the moisture seeps onto your ceiling and the building materials will start to decay.

BTO defects - leaking ceilingImage credit: DryProof Waterproofing

These stains can appear as discoloured patches and may indicate an ongoing or previous water infiltration problem.

BTO defects - open seamsImage credit: Authentic Additions 

Uneven or Sagging Ceiling: Insufficient structural support can result in sections of the ceiling appearing uneven or sagging. Not only is this a safety hazard but this defect is also more noticeable in certain lighting conditions and may require attention to ensure proper structural integrity.

BTO defects - ceiling water stainImage credit: Hardware Zone

Inadequate Finishing: In the realm of ceiling aesthetics, inadequate finishing can be a disappointing pitfall. It’s disheartening to encounter visible flaws like conspicuous seams, uneven textures, or inconsistent paint application that deviate from the expected standards. 

These shortcomings mar the overall appeal of your ceiling, especially if you desire to maintain its original state without resorting to further modifications.

Hollow or cracked tiles

When it comes to preserving the original flooring in your cherished BTO unit, prioritising the condition and quality of the floors is paramount. After all, you and your loved ones will tread upon these tiles for the next five years or even longer. As you embark on your self-inspection journey, we highly recommend equipping yourself with a selection of essential tools.

BTO defects - chipped tilesImage credit: Nemmadi

A trusty tile-tapping rod can prove to be invaluable an invaluable ally, helping you detect all sorts of hollow tiles that would otherwise go unnoticed. 

Self-inspection or engaging professionals

Now that we’ve equipped you with the essential knowledge, the moment has arrived for you to make a decision that aligns with your trust in yourself and your partner. You have the choice to assume the responsibility of meticulously inspecting the entire unit as a team or, if you prefer, engage the services of a professional to ensure a comprehensive examination.

BTO defects - multiple wall defectsImage credit: @makeyeoselfhome

Should you decide to seek professional assistance, here are some local defects inspection services that come highly recommended for just a couple hundred of dollars:

Ultimately, the decision rests in your hands, and you can proceed with confidence knowing that assistance is available should you need it.

Reporting of BTO defects

To ensure a smooth process and avoid confusion later on, it is highly recommended not to procrastinate when it comes to reporting defects in your BTO before starting any renovations. Reporting these issues promptly within the first one month of key collection will save you from potential headaches down the road.

BTO defects - defects reportImage credit: Absolute Inspection

You can simply report defects via the online feedback form. Once received, the Building Service Centre (BSC) will promptly schedule an appointment to visit your unit and verify all the reported defects.

BTO defects - professional inspectionPost-rectification inspection.
Image credit: SGDefectsScan

After the necessary repairs have been carried out, which typically takes around two weeks, a closing joint appointment will be arranged with the homeowners. During this appointment, every rectification will be carefully examined to ensure that all reported defects have been addressed to your satisfaction.

12-month period of free BTO repairs

Don’t worry, even if you do spot a whole lot of defects, here’s a pretty sweet deal: for the first 12 months after collecting your keys, your brand new BTO flat is covered by the HDB’s 1-Year Defects Liability Period (DLP). 

BTO defects - rectificationImage credit: Eat and travel later withus

That means any pesky defects that pop up during this time will be taken care of by the building contractor responsible for your BTO estate. It’s like having a warranty for your home, so, if you spot any issues, don’t stress out. Enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that your new abode is in good hands during this free-repair period.

A BTO defects guide for new HDB homeowners

BTO defects - cracked skirtingImage credit: @home.swee.home

To wrap it up, folks, getting your HDB keys is an exciting step towards owning your dream home, but before you start renovating and settling in, it’s essential to keep an eye out for potential defects. This handy BTO defects guide has covered 8 important areas to watch for, from cracked ceilings to clogged drains and beyond.

For more BTO-related articles: 

Cover image adapted from: @makeyeoselfhome, Describe, Soon to be Mrs Kier

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