Short answer, yes.
But how long ago was the HDB flat made smaller?
It all began in the 1960s, HDB started with the basic 1-3 room flats. However, over the years, during the 1970s, Singapore experienced higher economic and social progress. This saw an increase in demand for bigger flats. 4 and 5-room flats introduced to the market in 1975. The 4-room flats were between 85 and 105 square metres while 5-rooms flats were about 123 square metres. On the other hand, 1 to 3-rooms flats were put on hold till 1993.
HDB was just starting to figure out the “optimal” size of the flats as Singapore was facing increasing land constraints. HDB adjust the sizes of the flat downwards and eventually in 1997, the size of flats remained constant. Which actually means that the size of HDB flats have remained constant since 22 years ago!
But, why does it seem that our BTOs are getting smaller and smaller?
First, was the introduction of the personal bomb shelter. Since 1996, Singapore’s building code requires all new apartment buildings to have a bomb shelter. The minimum size for a bomb shelter is 4.8 square metres. Which means if you are staying in a 4-room flat of 96 square metres, this will set you away from a living space of 5%.
Many of the older flats do not have aircon ledges. Air-conditioner brackets were used to hold the condenser unit outdoors. However, some owners do not regularly maintain their aircon set, causing bolts from the brackets to be loose and thus causing accidents. Given our high rise living and communal activities at the ground floor, any accident can be quite catastrophic. Therefore, an aircon ledge was introduced in the gross floor area, making the floor area smaller.
HDB also made improvements to flat designs over the years. For example, kitchens today look smaller because residents now want the service yard and the kitchen to be separated. The improvements could have let to dead space, which makes the flat look smaller.
Thus, while it seems that HDB flat sizes have remained the same since 22 years ago, new regulations and updated HDB designs have caused the living space in our house to be smaller.
Share your thoughts with me on whether you would pay more for the safety of others and how can we make the HDB apartment look bigger.