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Should You Choose The HDB’s Optional Component Scheme (OCS) When You Buy A BTO Flat?

Is the HDB Optional Component Scheme (OCS) really worth it?


The process of buying our BTO (or any home) is strewn with a lot of decisions that we have to carefully consider. For a broad overview of the application process – and the decisions we have to make at each step – you can read our step-by-step guide to buying an HDB BTO in Singapore.

In this article, we will cover just one of the decisions – whether we should choose the Optional Component Scheme (OCS).

Read Also: [2021 BTO Application Edition] Step-By-Step Guide To Buying A HDB BTO Flat In Singapore

What Is The Optional Component Scheme (OCS)?

The Optional Component Scheme (OCS) is an opt-in scheme to install certain fittings and flooring within our BTO flat. This is so we have less renovation works to do when we get our keys, and can potentially move in faster.

Something that not all BTO buyers may be aware of is that not all everyone gets this option. For BTO flats that are built using the Prefabricated Prefinished Volumetric Construction (PPVC) method will already come with full floor finishes, internal doors and sanitary fittings. This means buyers do not have a choice but pay for the OCS components. For example, in the November 2020 BTO launch, 2 of the 5 estates offered (Tampines and Tengah) were built using PPVC method.

There are two main OCS optional components that most HDB BTO buyers (other than those buying a 99-year or short-term 2-room flexi flat) can choose from.

For those purchasing a 3-room, 4-room, 5-room and 3Gen BTO flats:

No. OCS Optional Components What Is Included
1 Sanitary Fittings and Internal Doors ·        Wash basin and tap mixer
·        Shower set with bath/shower mixer
·        Doors for bedrooms and bathrooms
2 Floor Finishes ·        Living/Dining Room
·        Bedrooms

Source: HDB

For more details on what these fittings look like, you can read our in-depth guide to the Optional Component Scheme. For those who are more interested, we can also view HDB’s  virtual showflats or head down to the HDB My Nice Home Gallery (which is temporarily closed right now) to get a better look and actually feel the material.

For those purchasing a 99-year 2-room flexi HDB BTO flat (meant for families and singles):

No. OCS Optional Components What They Include (Specifications)
1 Sanitary Fittings ·        Wash basin and tap mixer
·        Shower set with bath/shower mixer
Floor Finishes ·        Living/Dining Room
·        Bedrooms

Source: HDB

The obvious difference between most BTO homebuyers and those purchasing a 2-room flexi flat is that there are no internal doors in the OCS.

For those purchasing a short-lease 2-room flexi HDB BTO flat (meant for seniors only):

No. OCS Optional Components What They Include (Specifications)
1 Sanitary Fittings ·        Wash basin and tap mixer
·        Shower set with bath/shower mixer
2 Floor Finishes ·        Living/Dining Room
·        Bedrooms
3 Elderly-Friendly Fittings ·        Built-in kitchen cabinets with  induction hob and cooker hood, kitchen sink, tap and dish drying rack
·        Built-in wardrobe
Other Fittings ·        Lighting (whole unit)
·        Window grilles (whole unit)
·        Water Heater
·        Mirror and Toilet Roll Holder in Bathroom

Source: HDB

Short-lease 2-room flats are meant for seniors and would already come installed with grab bars. The Elderly-Friendly Fittings and Other Fittings come as one package, and those who opt for it must also opt for Floor Finishes (as floorings have to be laid in order to install certain fittings).

Read Also: Complete Guide To HDB’s Optional Component Scheme (OCS)

How Much Does The Optional Component Scheme (OCS) Cost?

The cost of the OCS is not fixed, as home sizes may vary and prices of materials may change. We took a look at the November 2020 BTO launch to derive an estimated range:

Flat Type Sanitary Fittings and Internal Doors Floor Finishes
3-room $2,640 $3,285
4-room $3,020 $4,895
5-room $3,020 $5,940

We can expect to spend between $2,640 and $8,960 on the Optional Component Scheme (OCS). Might not sound like a lot of money when we’re purchasing a flat worth several hundred thousand dollars. But if we think about it, that’s still about 3 months of the median take-home pay in Singapore for the most expensive option.

For 2-room flats, the price structure is slightly different.

2-Room Short-Lease Sanitary Fittings Floor Finishes Elderly-Friendly Fittings & Other Fittings
~37 sqm $520 $2,530 $6,035
46 sqm $520 $2,270 $7,230

 

2-room BTO flats bought with 99-year leases typically cost the same but do not offer the Elderly-Friendly Fittings & Other Fittings Package.

Is It Worth Choosing To Go For The Optional Component Scheme (OCS)?

For those of us who have a choice, here are some things to consider before making a decision on the Optional Component Scheme:

#1 Your Design Preference: Unique Features VS Cookie-Cutter Solution

Many of us may want our home to feel personalised and unique. If this is our first BTO flat, we may also be excited to renovate our home in the way we like.

On the other hand, many of us can also be utilitarian – we just want a solution to solve a problem. Furthermore, the fittings within the OCS comprise somewhat minor aspects of the renovation works. We still have the power to make our home look and feel the way we want to with other renovation works.

There is no right or wrong answer. We have to choose what makes sense for us.

#2 Your Design Preference In Roughly 5 Years

We felt that it was important to consider this as a separate point. Will we still think about the OCS the same way about 5 years later?

This is especially if we think of ourselves as simple people – 5 years is a long time to develop new design tastes and preferences. Replacing the fittings or flooring will cost us even more, having to fork out for removal and paying for the new fitting or flooring.

#3 Lock-In Costs At Today’s Price?

In a way, we are locking in a known price today and ensuring we do not suffer any inflationary costs in about 5 years when our BTO is ready.

Then again, prices could also dip if new technology lowers renovation costs in the future. Many of our friends have also commented that, in general, prices offered by the OCS are not considerably lower than what it would cost for us to include such works in our renovation when the time comes.

#4 Pay For Part Of Your Renovation Works With CPF Monies

When we choose to go with the OCS, the price is added to our purchase price, this means we can pay part of our renovation costs with our CPF Ordinary Account (OA) monies. This is one of the few ways we will ever get to use our CPF monies.

However, this comes at some opportunity costs – paying a slightly higher down payment today and incurring a 2.5% interest rate if we choose to go with an HDB home loan. If we go with a bank home loan, the down payment today may be even higher, but interest costs will be much more competitive.

Read Also: 12 Little-Known Things About CPF That Most Singaporeans Are Still Unaware About

#5 Quality Of Product/Finishes

The OCS does not provide inferior quality fittings and floorings. However, what is for sure is that we are not able to choose the exact quality or type of product. This may cause us some regret when we actually have to live with it for a good part of our lives.

Again, some of our friends have commented that product quality isn’t the best. This is to be expected – a door can cost $250 or $10,000. It’s just how much we want to spend to get the quality and type that we want. Naturally, HDB is charging about $9,000 at the top-end of the OCS and we should expect quality that is commensurate with that price.

#6 Responsibility For The Fitting/Flooring

It is somewhat safer to have HDB as our counterparty to the defects that may arise in our flat, and our Optional Component Scheme (OCS) fittings/flooring. All newly completed BTOs have a 1-year Defects Liability Period (DLP), effective from the date of our key collection.

If we want to report defects, HDB states that “it is important that you report the items within 7 days of receiving keys or before your start renovation works to your flat”. It goes on to state that this is because such defects “may have been caused by the renovation works”.

However, we have also been told that it can be a tedious process liaising to get the defects rectified, especially while also competing with hundreds of other households trying to sort their defects.

If we are working with a trusted ID, there should not be a big difference in counterparty risk. They will typically also be working with fewer clients so we can reach them more readily. The ID is also running a business and will go the extra mile to keep customers happy if they can.

#7 Working With An ID For A Bigger Project/Holistic Project

If we’re working with an ID for our renovation works, it helps to be able to work on a bigger project to get a better deal. Again, this is very subjective and only theoretical.

What isn’t theoretical is that when an ID works on a project that includes a bigger scope, the look and feel of our renovation works will be better. For example, if we’re planning for a certain theme like zen, scandanavian or industrial for our HDB renovation, we will want to ensure our flooring fits in.

Read Also: 5 Things Homeowners Can Do During Renovations That Will Save Them Money Over The Long Term

Cover image credit: Raymond Quek

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