Wall tiles in HDB kitchens and bathrooms suddenly crack and pop off – is poor workmanship the cause again?

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Following reports of “exploding” floor tiles in Housing Development Board (HDB) public housing units, homeowners have been highlighting that the tiles on the walls of their units are also becoming dislodged and falling off the walls in alarming new reports.

More homeowners have reported that the wall tiles in their kitchens and bathrooms have been popping up and becoming dislodged, after this video of wall tiles falling off the kitchen wall in a HDB flat began circulating online:

The homeowner or tenant who shot the video appears to have posted the video online anonymously but claims that the unit featured in the video is a 20-year-old HDB flat located in Jurong West and that the tiles came loose a few months before the video was shot so they secured it with tape before that measure too failed.

Others reported experiencing the same thing in their homes after the video was shared on social media.

One homeowner who lives at Punggol, Roland Tan, revealed that he experienced the same thing but that HDB allegedly claimed that they cannot help him as his home is over 15 years old:

“this is ridiculous !!! my tile also just came off last Saturday!! I heard a cracking sound in the kitchen and went to investigate and saw the tile beginning popping up I quickly get tape to tap it up before it came crushing down otherwise the result could be fatal as the tile is above head. I have contacted HDB and they claim flats over 15 yrs has no more warranty?? and we should bear the cost of repairing ! I’m still awaiting for their contractor to come quote cost of repairing. This is at Punggol.
“Is #HDB#PunggolHDB slacking in the Quality of their workmanship in the last 20 years?”

Posted by ROland TAn on Thursday, 11 January 2018

Another netizen, Mylet Ramos Almaiz, said that the same thing happened in the bathroom of her flat located in Leonie:

“Same here in leonie, I suspect it’s because of the drilling in the road. Tiles coming off from the wall sounds scary. It slowly come off like from the thriller movies and I’m expecting it will drop on me while I’m using the toilet.lucky I’m safe. There’s a lot of crack lines on the TOP part and tiles are slowly bending that anytime its ready to fall.”

Posted by Mylet Ramos Almaiz on Saturday, 13 January 2018

Another netizen reported that the wall tiles in her flat’s bathroom also cracked and popped off: “this is what happen in my bathroom while having my shower!! Exactly the same! Lucky I’m safe!”

Posted by Dotila Sofame Rido on Thursday, 11 January 2018

Angry netizens have blamed HDB for apparently taking no action to rectify their situations:

Mohammad Dzulkifli: “Called HDB on sat, redirected to town council EMS. They took down details and say to wait on Mon for HDB to call back. Didn’t receive any call today. Been contacting HDB, cannot get through. My flat in woodlands affected. Dangerous for our 11 mth old baby.”
Harvinder Kaur: “I’m having the same problem. Called on Friday, Saturday and today morning. Told they have informed contractor to call. Till now no picture no sound. The crack spread 70% of the hse. N continuing. HDB can’t be bothered.”
Jon Zephanius: “You promise much but cannot deliver. My toilet ceiling has been leaking since MAY LAST YEAR and you still haven’t fixed it! All your officer does is refuse to answer emails, only calls where there is no black and white. He never calls us back, we have to call him and INVITE him and BEG HIM to do something! Then he always promises us next week next week for 8 MONTHS. It’s already coming to CNY and we will have a leaking house. What are you people doing?”

The sudden “exploding” tiles issue is apparently not new to the authorities. In Parliament last year, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong reported that the HDB received about 2000 complaints regarding “exploding tiles” per year in 2015 and 2016. He further explained:

“Tiles, like all fittings, fixtures and finishes in a flat, are subject to wear and tear over time. They may dislodge due to various reasons, such as differential thermal expansion and contraction of tiles, or the natural deterioration of the bond between the tiles and the screed surface. All these can cause a loss of adhesion between the tiles and the screed surface, and the dislodgement of tiles. In the past two years, HDB received about 2,000 cases of dislodged floor tiles per year. This works out to a nationwide yearly average of about two cases per 1,000 dwelling units, or 0.2% per year.”

The Minister added that homeowners are responsible for maintaining their flats:

“Flat owners are responsible for the maintenance of their flats, including repairs for general wear and tear. In private developments, developers generally only rectify dislodged tiles during the 1-year Defect Liability Period (DLP). Some developers may offer repair for dislodged tiles for a slightly longer period, for example, three years, but those are generally done on a goodwill basis.
“HDB’s practice has been more generous – besides helping flat owners repair dislodged tiles originally provided by HDB during the 1-year DLP, it also offers goodwill repairs for dislodged tiles for up to 15 years. For flats that are older than 15 years of age, HDB will help carry out inspections and assist the owners to remove and dispose of the affected tiles. HDB can also provide owners with a list of registered repair contractors, whom they can then engage on a private basis.”

Migrant worker allegedly blames “exploding tiles” on “air gaps and poor workmanship”