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Thread: Bay window loophole slammed shut by URA

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    Default Bay window loophole slammed shut by URA

    http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/sub/...87058,00.html?

    Published July 10, 2008

    Bay window loophole slammed shut by URA

    Developers will now have to include planter boxes, bay windows in GFA

    By KALPANA RASHIWALA


    (SINGAPORE) Here's some bad news for developers: a loophole that helped them sell in excess of the gross floor area (GFA) has been plugged.


    The view changes: Till now, developers had been charging buyers for bay windows and planter boxes, even though these features were exempted from GFA calculations

    Till now, bay windows and planter boxes, which often make up around 5 per cent of a condo's saleable area, had been exempted from GFA calculations. But in providing them to buyers, developers had been charging buyers for them.

    This exemption will no longer apply from Oct 7, according to a circular issued by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Monday.

    The exemption has led to 'unintended and undesirable consequences' and 'unwittingly shifted market behaviours and negated the objective of the GFA exemptions for these building features', URA said in explaining why bay windows and planter boxes will no longer be exempted from GFA.

    Explaining the impact of the new rules on residential developers, a property industry player said: 'Developers' profit margins will be reduced because they will no longer enjoy this benefit of not counting bay windows and planter boxes as part of their GFA and yet selling this space to home buyers. If the developers want to have these features, they will have to pay the full price since these will be included as GFA.'

    The new rules apply to all residential developments - landed and non- landed - and are expected to lead to a rush of new development applications, especially from developers who have bought land recently.

    URA said bay windows have been 'found to have contributed significantly to the building bulk, affect the design of buildings and generally do not encourage energy efficiency'. 'Often the provision of bay windows is intended mainly to increase the saleable strata area,' it noted.

    Planter boxes were introduced to provide 'vertical greenery' in condos and create 'visual relief to our high-density living environment'. However, feedback and URA's investigations have revealed extensive unauthorised conversions of planter boxes within residential units for use as a balcony space or an extension of the living room instead. The planning authority said it has also received feedback that condo owners are unhappy that they are not allowed to convert planter boxes - which are part of their strata space and which they paid for when they bought their unit - to other uses.

    'URA will leave it to the developers and building owners to decide if they wish to continue to provide bay windows and planter boxes for their residential developments so long as these building features are counted as GFA. The industry will have a free hand to design and provide these building features based on their commercial considerations as there will no longer be restrictions on the size of bay windows and planter boxes,' URA said.

    Planter boxes within non-residential developments (like hotels and business parks), as well as those located within the common areas of residential developments like sky terraces, will continue to be exempted from GFA as these areas are typically well-planted and maintained by the management corporation for the benefit of all occupants in a development.

    Only formal development applications (which exclude outline applications) with a valid provisional permission issued before Oct 7 will continue to be evaluated under the old GFA guidelines. For approved developments, bay windows and planters will remain GFA-exempted until the buildings are redeveloped, URA added.

    Knight Frank managing director Tan Tiong Cheng had an alternative suggestion for URA. 'Instead of just removing GFA exemption for bay windows and planters, URA could have let the exemption continue but require developers to specify and identify these features in their sales brochures so that buyers know exactly how much of their strata area is taken up by bay windows and planter boxes. Buyers can then decide whether these features are as attractive to them.'

    DTZ executive director Ong Choon Fah observed that bay windows can be a useable area - for sitting, keeping books or displaying photo frames, for instance. 'Planter boxes, on the other hand, often end up not being used for the purpose they were meant for,' she added.

    Summing up the change, a seasoned industry observer said: 'This closes one loophole for developers. They've had a good run on it.'

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    So now how about people like us being "overcharged" recently? My 2 uncompleted units have 6 bay windows and 2 planters in total !!
    Last edited by blackjack21trader; 10-07-08 at 18:44.

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    Quote Originally Posted by blackjack21trader
    So now how about people like us being "overcharged" recently? My 2 uncompleted units have 6 bay windows and 2 planters in total !!
    Haha. Hi BJ21Trader,

    We have seldom `talked' before but I'm curious with regards to your great conviction that the West Coast is going to be the next big thing. You see, I'm looking at a PH in Carabelle but I'm not sure if what is a good price to pay. That's why I'm wondering if you would like to share your comments with me. You could also leave me a pm if you think your comments like lead to others to leave unwanted replies.

    Thx!

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    Default No perks for less popular features

    http://www.straitstimes.com/Invest/S...ry_257260.html

    July 13, 2008

    No perks for less popular features

    New guidelines could discourage condo developers from including planter boxes and bay windows

    By Joyce Teo, Property Correspondent



    Homebuyers will soon no longer need to pay for features they do not want, such as bay windows and planter boxes. New URA guidelines require developers to include the provisions as part of gross floor area, and to pay for them. -- ST FILE PHOTOS

    Buyers of most new developments have been paying for bay windows and planter boxes even if they have no use for such building features.

    But soon, they may no longer have to do so as a recent change in government guidelines is expected to discourage developers from building such features.

    Last week, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said it will include planter boxes and bay windows in the calculation of the gross floor area (GFA) of residential developments. This means that developers will have to pay for these boxes and windows. They have been happily providing these features as these are 'bonus' space that they can sell.

    'It makes economic sense to utilise the exemption,' said a local developer. 'Whether we continue to build bay windows and/or planter boxes will depend very much on the design of the building.'

    Consumers benefit in that they will be paying for only liveable space, market watchers say.

    Few owners interested in gardening

    The URA had encouraged developers to build planter boxes so as to give visual relief to Singapore's high-density living environment. However, feedback and its investigations have revealed extensive unauthorised conversions of planter boxes for use as balcony space or an extension of the living room.

    'Such conversion will result in additional GFA for which the end-user will need to meet onerous requirements such as seeking consent from the management corporation and paying further development charge, if applicable,' the URA said.

    It has also received feedback that flat owners are unhappy that they are not allowed to convert the planter boxes to other uses since they had paid for the space when they bought their flat.

    'From a practical point of view, most homebuyers do not make use of planters,' said ERA Asia Pacific's assistant vice-president, Mr Eugene Lim. Bay windows, however, do help to make the room look bigger than it really is. They also let in more light, he said.

    Bay windows bring light and also heat

    Indeed, bay windows are supposed to help encourage energy-efficient building design and sustainability. They were originally not counted as part of the GFA because they were viewed as raised window ledges.

    But the relaxation of the height of the bay window ledge has made it a usable internal space that is no different from the rest of the floor space, said the URA.

    Also, the URA found that there are more new buildings that are virtually wrapped around by bay windows. The extensive use of bay windows leads to higher heat transfer into buildings and increases the need for air-conditioning to cool the buildings, it said.

    It noted: 'Often, the provision of bay windows is intended mainly to increase the saleable strata space.'

    Typically, planter boxes and bay windows take up about 5 per cent of a unit's saleable space, although it can be a bigger portion in some developments. This information is often not divulged to buyers.

    The motivation is there to increase the proportion of such space vis-a-vis the GFA or what used to be called liveable floor area, said Chesterton International's head of research and consultancy, Mr Colin Tan. 'That is why we see new units sold today have larger balconies, lots of bay windows and planter areas and super-sized air-con ledges.'

    The URA said it will now leave it to developers and building owners to decide if they wish to continue to provide bay windows and planter boxes. Non-residential developments such as hotels and offices are not affected by the revised guidelines.

    They take effect from Oct 7 and will affect new development applications received on or after the date.

    When deciding between a new unit and one with planter boxes and bay windows, a buyer may perceive the latter to be worth less than the former, assuming they are of the same size, said Mr Tan.

    'A consumer will view a unit with full GFA of 1,300 sq ft as being worth more than a 1,300 sq ft unit with 1,150 sq ft of GFA and 150 sq ft of non-GFA area, although both will be listed as having the same strata area of 1,300 sq ft.'

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