About 50 screws used for 100kg false ceiling that collapsed in HDB flat: contractor

(Left) The false ceiling after it was completed. (Centre & right) The collapsed false ceiling had narrowly missed a baby's crib. (SCREENCAPS: SR Tech Engineering, WL Liu via Sg Renovation 新加坡裝修行業/Facebook)
(Left) The false ceiling after it was completed. (Centre & right) The collapsed false ceiling had narrowly missed a baby's crib. (SCREENCAPS: SR Tech Engineering, WL Liu via Sg Renovation 新加坡裝修行業/Facebook)

SINGAPORE — Some 50 screws had supported the four sides of a false ceiling that collapsed in a Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat last Wednesday (8 June), said the contractor behind its installation.

This is in addition to four screws that were affixed in the centre of the ceiling, a spokesperson for the contractor, SR Tech Engineering, told Yahoo News Singapore.

The work was carried out in January and the contractor is unsure of what caused the collapse, the spokesperson said. The "unfortunate incident" may be due to a few reasons, including vibrations of the concrete slab, according to the spokesperson.

The aftermath of the incident was caught in an online video, which shows the extent of the 100kg ceiling collapse in the four-room flat at Dawson Road in Queenstown.

The 16-second video on the Sg Renovation 新加坡裝修行業 Facebook group went viral, with almost 4,000 shares and over 1,200 reactions as of 11.15pm on Monday.

The ceiling had collapsed onto a king-size bed and a single bed in the master bedroom, narrowly missing a baby crib.

In the video, a woman identified by media reports as Wendy Liu, can be heard exclaiming that no one, including her three young sons aged one to eight, who typically sleep in the room, was present during the collapse.

"How terrifying," Liu, 40, had said repeatedly in Mandarin.

A video of the completed ceiling posted by SR Tech Engineering on its Facebook page in January has been removed. In it, a second, but smaller, false ceiling could be seen in another part of the bedroom.

The contractor is currently paying $706 per day to accommodate the family of five at a hotel and is working to dismantle the ceiling and repair the damages. It will also carry out some lighting works, as instructed by the customer, for free.

"We (also) offered them compensation twice of the ceiling work amount which was $1,100," the spokesperson added. "As a contractor, we trying our best to solve the matter."

No complains against contractor: CASE

In response to queries from Yahoo News Singapore, president of the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) Melvin Yong said CASE did not receive any complaints against SR Tech Engineering from 2019 till date.

One complaint pertaining to the collapse of a false ceiling was, however, received by CASE in April, Yong said, without specifying the contractor or location of the incident.

A male complainant had reported that the collapse was caused by a leakage issue, which the contractor never rectified, Yong said. CASE has provided advice to the complainant on his options to resolve the matter, Yong added.

"We are sorry to hear about the incident that Liu and her family went through. We encourage Liu to approach CASE if she would like advice and assistance to resolve the matter."

HDB flat owners should engage a contractor from HDB’s directory of renovation contractors to carry out their renovation works, as contractors are required to abide by HDB’s terms and ensure that renovation works are conducted safely and do not cause damage to properties.

Yong also advised consumers to use the services of CaseTrust accredited renovation contractors, which are required to protect a customer's deposit via the purchase of a deposit performance bond.

The bond safeguards against business closure, winding up or liquidation, or both, before a renovation is completed.

CaseTrust accredited renovation contractors also have in place proper dispute resolution processes.

"Consumers should also do thorough research on the credibility and track record of the renovation contractor before signing a contract, and insist on a written contract that outlines the warranty period for renovation works, and compensation clauses for damage caused to the property," Yong said.

Consumers who are unable to resolve disputes with their renovation contractor can approach CASE for help at 97958397 or www.case.org.sg.

The installation of false ceilings during renovation does not require a permit but is subject to HDB's renovation guidelines or conditions.

Engaging a listed contractor from the HDB directory is a private contract between the homeowner and the contractor, according to HDB's website. A contractor is fully responsible for the contractual obligations towards its client, including the quality of its works.

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