HDB’s Optional Component Scheme (OCS) may come with useful perks, such as payment via CPF and a ready-to-move-in home, but is it really worth it?
If you’re planning to buy a new HDB flat, one of the first things you may end up needing to decide on is whether to opt in for the Optional Component Scheme (OCS). And while it seems like a cost-effective way to outfit your home with the essential finishes and fittings it needs, the truth is that going for the OCS isn’t always the right choice.
Interior Firm: Charlotte's Carpentry
Why, you may ask? It’s because there are alternatives – both price and design-wise – that might work better for you, your home, and your wallet. Keep reading to find out what your options are!
What you get with the Optional Component Scheme (OCS)
So, when we say ‘essential finishes and fittings’ that come with the OCS, what does that include? According to HDB’s page for Sales Launches in Jurong West, Sengkang and Kallang/Whampoa, the following can be bought under the scheme:
1) Internal doors: For 3-room flats, this includes 2 bedroom doors and 2 bathroom doors (total of 4 doors) ; for 4-room flats and 5-room flats, 3 bedroom doors and 2 bathroom doors (total of 5 doors).
2) Flooring: Vinyl floor strips are provided for the bedrooms, while polished porcelain tiles are used in the living/dining area.
3) Sanitary fittings: This includes a wall-mounted wash basin with tap mixer as well as a shower set with a bath/shower mixer for both the common and master bathrooms.
Also, even though they’ll come with your new HDB flat (read: 3, 4, 5-room, and 3Gen units), do note that the OCS doesn’t include the following non-optional items:
• Floor finishes (for kitchen, household shelter, service yard and bathrooms)
• Wall tiles in the kitchen and bathrooms
• Toilets in each bathroom
And while it isn’t a fitting or fixture, one of the biggest advantages of the OCS is that it allows homeowners to pay for their renovation (or at least, some parts of it) through CPF – this can be a boon for anyone with a tight budget or is unwilling to fork out too much upfront.
Which is more affordable? The OCS or renovating on your own?
If we’re talking about money matters, there’s no better way to do it than by crunching the numbers! Based on prices from HDB and estimated figures (courtesy of Charlotte’s Carpentry), here’s an idea of how the OCS stacks up to hiring an interior designer when it comes to getting the job done.
Breakdown of OCS and Interior Designer Prices
The OCS offers two packages to homeowner, one for flooring and another for internal doors with sanitary fittings, and they’re priced differently for 3-room and 4-room units.
According to HDB, the OCS flooring package will set you back $3,230 for a 3-room unit, whereas the cost is $4,870 for a 4-room unit and $5,940 for a 5-room unit. As for the OCS internal doors and sanitary fittings package, it’s priced at $2,620 for 3-room units and $2,980 for both 4-room units and 5-room units.
And, compared side-by-side to the costs of engaging an ID...
Average size of a BTO flat living/dining rooms: 280 sqft for 3-room unit / 320 sqft for 4-room unit/ 500 sqft for 5-room unit
Total average size of BTO flat bedrooms: 220 sqft for 3-room unit / 400 sqft for 4-room unit/ 400 sqft for 5-room unit
Here's how we arrived at these numbers:
Based on the final figures, one can make the case that the OCS offers flooring at a more affordable price than interior designers for 3, 4 and 5-room flats. However, it’s the opposite when it comes to internal doors and sanitary fittings as an interior designer can most likely get you a better deal.
Why it might be better to work with an interior designer
Now that we know which is more affordable, you should definitely opt in for the OCS… not! Based on what we’ve been told by both local homeowners as well as interior designers, it turns out that there’s good reason why you should hold your horses.
Samples of optional flooring finishes provided by the OCS (Source: HDB)
Based on a quick Q&A that we did on our Instagram account, some homeowners were quick to express their dissatisfaction with the flooring that was provided under the OCS due to workmanship ("grouts wide and uneven"), aesthetic ("colours not to taste") and practical ("too slippery") reasons, while others didn’t opt in so that they can have a blank slate to work with.
There were also some who spoke out against the toilet bowls and wall tiles, which HDB provides, but not under the OCS.
Veteran interior designer James Lim, who is the founder of Charlotte’s Carpentry, also believes that opting out for the OCS gives homeowners more freedom when it’s time to renovate.
“Not everyone has a clear idea of what they want for their first home when they apply for an HDB flat. Sometimes, it’s only after waiting for 3 or 4 years for their estate to be completed that homeowners realise what they’ve gotten with the OCS at the start isn’t what they actually want or limits the home design that they have in mind,” said James
To opt in, or not?
Depending on a combination of factors – namely your aesthetic preferences, practical needs, and finances – you may wish to either opt in for the OCS or stay out.
Interior Firm: Charlotte's Carpentry
If you prefer to pay with your CPF funds instead of cash, opt in by all means. But do note that the cost of the OCS is added to the total purchase price of your HDB flat, which also means it will roll with the interest on your housing loan.
On the flip side, if you already have a specific look in mind that doesn’t go well with the basic/entry-level fixtures and fittings which the OCS offers, don’t opt in and work with a private renovation professional instead. The same applies if you need more functional options at home (e.g. non-slip tiles for your elderly parents or young children).
(Note: All facts and figures listed in this article are accurate as of 30 April 2019)
This article was first published on Qanvast, the go-to renovation platform for homeowners to connect with interior designers.
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