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HDB interesting facts and records

Did you know? HDB blocks vary in size from 4 to 570 flats
(block 308 Choa Chu Kang Ave 4 vs block 37 Circuit Road)
Smallest HDB block: 308 Choa Chu Kang Ave 4 Biggest HDB block: 37 Circuit Road

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Biggest HDB town (by number of units):
Current town boundaries were introduced in Annual Report 1990. Bedok was the biggest town, overtaken by Tampines in 1996 then by Jurong West in 2000. We expected Sengkang to take the lead, but due to announcement of Tampines North area, based on the number of flats under construction in Annual Report 2018 we can say that Tampines will re-take the lead in 2021.

Biggest HDB block ever built:
Blk 30 Jalan Membina (built 1960s, demolished mid-1990s), 605 units of 2-Room (source: Straits Times).

Biggest HDB block (standing):
Blk 52 Cassia Crescent (built 2016), 588 units of 1/2/3-Room flats, 17 storey.
Blk 37 Circuit Road (built 1965), 570 units of 2/3-Room Standard flats, 16-storey, 3 wings, 38 units per floor.
Blk 195 Kim Keat Avenue (built 1973), 550 units of 3-room Improved flats, 12-storey, 50 units per floor.
Blk 3 Jalan Bukit Merah (built 1974) and blk 79 Indus Road (built 1971), 520 units of 1-Room Improved flats, 14-storey, 40 units per floor. (source: personal research)
For comparison, the 40-storey blocks 88, 89, 90 at Tanglin Halt house only 331-379 units, Pinnacle @ Duxton house only 264 units per block.

Smallest HDB block:
Blk 539, 542, 545 in Pasir Ris (4 units Executive Maisonette); blk 308 in Choa Chu Kang (2 units 4-Room and 2 units 5-Room); many 2-storey shophouses have 3 residential units at second floor if at first floor there is an eating house or other facility, other shophouses have 0 residential units because all are classified as commercial properties (shop at ground floor and living quarters at second floor).

Longest HDB block:
Blk 195 Kim Keat Avenue, 4 segments, 370 meters long on corridor side, 12 floors, 50 3I units per floor, 550 units in total.
Blk 34 Whampoa West, 1 curved segment, 320 meters long on corridor side, 12 floors, 46 3I units per floor, 487 units in total.

Longest relatively-straight HDB block:
Blk 79 in Toa Payoh, 1 slightly curved segment, 300 meters long, 10 floors, 44 3I units per floor, demolished in 2003.

Most segmented HDB:
Blk 612 in Ang Mo Kio, 220 meters long, 12 staircases with two 4NG flats per floor, during LUP 10 new lifts had to be built to serve all units with lifts stopping at every floor (source: personal research).

Biggest HDB flats:
Biggest regular Executive flats are around 150-160 sqm, special flats on non-90Β° corners may be bigger. Only 0.5% of total HDB flats built are over 160 sqm.
Biggest HDB flats ever built are the ones popularly called penthouses, Maisonette units at topmost floor of some 1990s precincts in Bishan (52 units), Choa Chu Kang (12 units), Queenstown-Strathmore (4 units), also Hougang and Pasir Ris (source), they are up to 215 sqm, plus a roof terrace. Note: The Jumbo Apartments, found in Woodlands, Yishun and Jurong East, can reach 192 sqm too.

Longest HDB flats:
The 5-room corner units in 1991-1992 blocks, 18 meters long, kids sleeping in common bedrooms have a long way to go toilet! floor plan (source: personal research).

Best HDB town (my favorite in terms of planning): Woodlands because is built along MRT line over 3 stations instead of mostly in one side of MRT line like Jurong or around one MRT station like Woodlands, thus about 90% of population live within 1 km range from MRT. Also its road network is less-prone to traffic jams compared with other towns of similar size.

Curiosities about HDB block numerology:
– Toa Payoh built since 1965, is the only HDB New Town where block number is continuous over 100 blocks, starting from 1 and ending at 235 in 1976 (blk 236-260 added in 1986-1989). This numerology starting from 1 is used also for smaller estates too, up to Teck Whye in 1980s.
– All New Towns built since 1970s use 3-digit numbering system, starting from 101 for neighborhood 1, 201 for neighborhood 2, etc. Numbers are not always continuous, some being reserved for possible future use, For example Jurong West neighborhoods 7xx, 8xx, 9xx were built since 1986 despite that 6xx wasn’t started until 1996.
– Digit-letter numbers were used first time in late 1980s in Tampines 8xx neighborhood which had more than 99 blocks.
– Digit-letter numbers were used often in 1990s for in-fill developments such as carparks.
– New Towns and extensions of existing towns built since ~2000 HDB use digit-only numbers for carparks and pavilions and digit-letter numbers for residential buildings.

Curiosities about HDB unit numbering:
The current unit numbering system (example #12-101) meaning floor + unit number was introduced in 1983. Before this, the ground floor flats had just number 101 while the second floor unit was 101A, third floor 101B, and so on until 25th floor 101Z (letters I an O were ommited). This may be a possible explanation why HDB choose to limit block height to 25 floors from 1970 to mid-1990s.

HDB unit numbering

Curious HDB facts that most people do not know about them:
– Jurong West is the ONLY town built over all 5 decades of HDB: Taman Jurong in 1960s, Boon Lay Gardens in 1970s, main Jurong Town in 1980s (block 3xx, 4xx, 5xx), Nanyang (blocks 7xx, 8xx, 9xx) in 1988-1998, Pioneer (blocks 6xx) in 1998-2003, plus few BTOs under construction today.
– The block 23A Queen’s Close is the only HDB block segmented with two 3-room units per floor (such segmented block design is common for 4-room and 5-room blocks). Segmented blocks with 2 units of 2/3-room per floor were more common during SIT era (Redhill, Tiong Bahru, etc).
– The block 259 in Ang Mo Kio is an unique cloverleaf-shaped block.
– The 5-Room flats built by JTC are the only type of public housing with 2 entrance doors, similar with condos (one in living-room, one in kitchen).
– HDB has sold flats with 3 full bathrooms: Multi-Generation flats built in 1987, “Jumbo” Executive flats converted in 1992-1996 from 3A and 4A flats, and 3gen flats launched in 2013 via BTO scheme (Executive Maisonettes built after 1988 also offer 2 bathrooms and 1 WC).
– While most HDB flats do not have balcony at all, HDB has sold a couple of flats with 3 balconies during 1990s (one at living room, one at master bedroom, plus service balcony at kitchen).
– Belvia DBSS offer 3 bathrooms in 5-room flats (109 sqm).

Blocks with multiple street address:
– The U-shaped block 78 in pre-war Tiong Bahru is the ONLY building in Singapore with 3 street addresses (78 Moh Guan Terrace, 78 Yong Siak Street, 78 Guan Chuan Street), source: Tiong Bahru blog.
– Two L-shaped blocks have 2 street addresses: 17 Seng Poh Road / Tiong Bahru Road and 28 Jalan Bukit Merah / Hoy Fatt Road
– One multi-storey carpark expanded with a new segment became the only carpark with 2 street addresses. Searching 337 Kang Ching Road and 337 Tah Ching Road on OneMap returns both results.

Private HDB blocks:
Spottiswoode Park was originally a private apartment built in 1973-1977 by Port Authority for PSA staff, using HDB designs of 4-Room Improved and 5-Room Standard point blocks, and one of the first residential developments that included a multi-storey car park. Many flats remained empty so were transferred to HDB which leased them to people waiting for public housing in 1979 (Source: Straits Times 1978 and Straits Times 1980).

While all 9 blocks are under HDB management, 5 blocks contains public housing and other 4 private apartments that are not subject to HDB regulations, foreigners can buy, so are transacted at prices 30% higher than public flats despite of sharing same architecture and facilities. Top floor contains 18 penthouse units, classified as private apartments even if flats just below them are public, sold at record prices: 230 sqm, $1.8 million.

There are few more blocks with HDB design that are not public housing, for example 2 point blocks with 5-Room Improved flats built for Polytechnic staff, and 11 blocks model 1996-1998 with 4-Room Model A / 5-Room Improved flats, built for Mount Vernon Camp.

Mysterious abandoned HDB block:
Block 852 Woodlands Street 53, was built in 1980s as 3/4-Room Simplified block, and for unknown reason became abandoned in early 2000s. Read more http://forums.keeptouch.net/showthread.php?t=7654 (discussion from 2003). In late 2000s when demand for rental flats was rising, it was converted to 1/2-room fiats and got populated again. The biggest question is when and why it was abandoned and where the previous owners went away, or was rental block?

There are various stories, structural problems (and people though that will be demolished), or used as SARS quarantine homes, as well as haunted stories regarding 2009 murder case in a 2-room flat (but it was abandoned 6 years earlier at least!).

Cheapest HDB towns:
Woodlands, Yishun, Bukit Panjang, Pasir Ris, Punggol, are changing their places from year to year.
Woodlands is the cheapest town in terms of price per sqm, it have bigger flats than average.
Yishun is the cheapest town for average of 4-room because they are mostly 4S type (84 sqm) while Woodlands is dominated by 4A flats (104, 100, 90 sqm). Yishun may lose this title, being selected for Remaking our Heartland in 2007.
Bukit Panjang and Woodlands may rise due to upcoming Downtown and Thomson MRT lines. Choa Chu Kang and Pasir Ris may take the lead for having the cheapest HDB flats.
Punggol was the cheapest town during 2000s.
Woodlands is also the town where the HDB flats change owners most often (the town represent 6.6% of total number of HDB flats but 9% of total number of flats transacted. Source: personal analysis of HDB Resale Transactions Database (see Statistics sheet inside Excel file). How does this explain?

Most expensive HDB town:
Marine Parade (average price of Queenstown’s 4-rm units is slightly higher than Marine Parade, but original Queenstown built in 1950s-1960s had very few 4-rm, thus most of the 4-rm transacted are built after 1990s, being 90-105 sqm, while the Marine Parade is entirely built in 1970s and the 4-rm are only 87 sqm), so higher psf. Marine Parade 5-rm units with sea view can rival prices of Executive units in Queenstown.
Toa Payoh and Bishan are also expensive, we all know why. Mysteriously, Bukit Timah have high prices, despite of lack of MRT. Any explanation?

Most expensive HDB flats transacted on resale market:
Jul 2010 – $890,000 – 192 sqm Executive Maisonette in blk 81 Strathmore Ave (Queenstown)
Aug 2011 – $898,000 – 120 sqm 5-Room Flat in blk 2 Marine Terrace (sea view!)
Mar 2012 – $900,000 – 157 sqm Executive Apartment in blk 148 Mei Ling St (Queenstown)
May 2012 – $910,000 – 142 sqm Executive Apartment in blk 99A Lor 2 Toa Payoh
Sep 2012 – $980,000 – 163 sqm Executive Maisonette in blk 190 Bishan St 13
Sep 2012 – $1,000,000 – 150 sqm Executive Apartment in blk 149 Mei Ling St (Queenstown)
Jan 2013 – $1,010,000 – 163 sqm Executive Maisonette in blk 194 Bishan St 13
Jul 2013 – $1,000,000 – 146 sqm Executive Maisonette in blk 3 Toh Yi Drive (Bukit Timah)
Dec 2013 – $1,050,000 – 150 sqm Executive Maisonette in blk 190 Bishan Street 13
Oct 2014 – $1,088,000 – 150 sqm Executive Maisonette in blk 194 Bishan Street 13
Jan 2015 – $1,028,000 – 107 sqm 5-Room Flat in blk 1A Pinnacle @ Duxton

[email protected] is likely to set the next record of most expensive apartments, at least in terms of price per sq meter, which will be not be beaten for years, especially as the prices started to fall in 2013. The residents fulfill their Minimum Occupation Period at end of 2014 so they will be able to sell their flats.

HUDC units, even non-privatised ones, have even bigger prices.

8 comments

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    • kZ on September 18, 2017 at 3:10 am
    • Reply

    Block 10c bedok south avenue 2 is probably the smallest block… just 2 units!

    • Mohan on February 28, 2019 at 2:38 am
    • Reply

    Why there is Blocks starting with 300 in Pasir Ris.

    1. Are you asking why there is NO 3xx neighborhood in Pasir Ris? For same reason for which Sembawang did not had 1xx until 2013 and Tampines did not had 6xx blocks until 2014 BTO, they were reserved to be built at a later time, probably the Pasir Ris 3xx was assigned to the area around Jalan Loyang Besar which meantime been developed with condos so HDB 3xx blocks may never going to be built.

    • Master on June 23, 2019 at 7:24 am
    • Reply

    Bedok also has also been built in 5 decades

    1. What is in Bedok planning area:
      East Coast Road (1963)
      Chai Chee (1972-1984 original)
      Chai Chee (1993-present redevelopment)
      Bedok New Town (1974-1986 original)
      Bedok New Town (1993-present redevelopment)
      Kaki Bukit Estate (1985-1996)
      Kembangan (1988-1989)

      With only 4 blocks built in 1960s it does not count. On old maps I see blocks 1-18 in Chai Chee demolished around 2000 but I do not know when they were built and what kind of flats did they had. Maybe you have some information?

        • Master on July 1, 2019 at 11:32 am
        • Reply

        Have some info here. Blocks 1-18 total over 800 units were probably built in 1965-1966
        Blk 1-2 (1-Room)
        Blk 3-5 (2 & 3-Room)
        Blk 6 ( probably 3-Room?)
        Blk 7 (2 & 3-Room)
        Blk 8-9 (2-Room)
        Blk 10-11 (1-Room)
        Blk 12-18 (maybe hawker stalls)

    • Andrew Cheng on September 3, 2019 at 11:42 am
    • Reply

    Hi! Thank you for all the effort in putting this together! πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

    But seriously, the English is really bad. Can I help you to edit the article and remove the grammatical errors?

    Can do an update in case some of your facts are not correct too…

    Andrew Cheng

    1. I am not native english speaker. When I made website in 2009 I was using Windows XP with Internet Explorer 8 which do not underline grammar errors like what Chrome does. In 2012 I discovered https://checkdog.com/ and found few hundreds errors in my articles. There was 1 typo every 100-200 words. By today I corrected all grammar errors discovered by CheckDog but I am sure that are still many spelling errors not yet discovered.

      Can you copy my article into a Word document, make edits (with different color) and email back to me? Or edit in email directly.

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