NEW REGULATIONS TO IMPROVE PRODUCTIVITY IN THE CONSTRUCTION SECTOR
6 Nov 2014
To further raise construction productivity as outlined in the Budget 2014, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) announced that the Building Control (Buildability and Productivity) Regulations now include requirements on the use of labour-efficient construction methods and building design.
From 1 November 2014, projects are required to:
a) Meet higher minimum Buildable Design and Constructability standards. This will make buildings easier to construct and encourage the use of efficient construction methods and processes.
b) Use prefabricated and standardised components. All non-landed residential developments are required to adopt drywall as internal partitions for dry areas. In addition, standardised floor heights and building components such as precast staircases, precast refuse chutes and doors will be required for new projects.
c) Adopt high-impact productive technologies for projects under the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme.
(i) These include the adoption of Prefabricated Bathroom Units (PBUs) in residential (non-landed) sites, including Executive Condominiums, and the residential (non-landed) component of mixed-use sites sold under the GLS programme.
(ii) In addition, the adoption of Prefabricated Pre-finished Volumetric Construction (PPVC) will be imposed on selected GLS sites.
Please refer to Annex A for more details on the new requirements and Annex B for information on PBUs and PPVC.
First two selected GLS sites to adopt PPVC
3. Two upcoming GLS sites at Yishun Avenue 4 and Jurong West Street 41 (scheduled to be released for sale in November and December 2014 respectively) will need to meet these new requirements including the adoption of PPVC. Please refer to Annex C for the location plans of these sites. PPVC involves the assembly of whole rooms or apartment units complete with internal fixtures that are produced off-site and installed on site in a Lego-like manner.
4. Besides these two sale sites, PPVC is being adopted in several projects in Singapore. These include a student hostel at Nanyang Technological University and a building extension to the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Hotel. City Developments Limited will also be the first developer in Asia to adopt PPVC for a large-scale residential project – an Executive Condominium at Canberra Drive. Extension of tender period for land parcel at Upper Serangoon Road
5. The first sale site that is required to meet the new requirements specified in paragraphs 2(a), 2(b) and 2(c)(i) is the land parcel at Upper Serangoon Road. The tender for the land parcel was launched on 25 September 2014.
6. To provide more time for prospective tenderers to take these new requirements into consideration before submitting their bids, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is extending the tender closing date for the land parcel at Upper Serangoon Road. The tender will now close on 27 November 2014 instead of 13 November 2014.
7. Information on the land parcel and its location plan are available in Annex D. More details on the land parcel are available at http://www.ura.gov.sg/uol/land-salesrepository/Sites/uppserangoon-cl.aspx.
PREFABRICATED BATHROOM UNIT (PBU)
The construction of conventional bathrooms requires numerous workers to do more than 13 trades on site. These include waterproofing and tiling as well as sanitary, plumbing and electrical works. On the other hand, Prefabricated Bathroom Units (PBUs) are pre-assembled in factories before they are delivered to site for installation. This enables the construction of the entire bathroom to be streamlined and done efficiently in the controlled environment of the factory, minimising the disturbance to surrounding residents as well as ensuring higher quality finishing.
PBUs can bring about manpower and time savings of about 60%, depending on the design and materials used. This is not a new technology and has been used in Singapore in the last ten years or more.
PBU designs have also evolved and improved tremendously both in Singapore and overseas as innovative materials and more advanced technologies create possibilities for PBUs to be of better quality and yet not compromised by challenges in handling and transportation. One example is the evolvement of volumetric concrete PBU to lightweight concrete PBU.
Ensuring PBUs meet minimum standards
As BCA is mandating the use of PBUs for non-landed residential GLS sites, it will be critical to ensure that the different PBU systems coming into the market are reliable and durable systems which will not result in future maintenance problems for the home owners.
PBU suppliers are required to apply and go through the Building Innovation Panel (BIP), which consists of both BCA as well as other relevant authorities/agencies.
Firstly, a PBU Screening Panel chaired by BCA and other industry representatives will look into the PBU system’s design and materials used. The main objective of the panel is to ensure that each PBU system is both flexible and robust enough in terms of their design, to cater to both developers and home owners’ needs. In addition, the materials used should be both safe and durable as well.
Next, the other agencies on the BIP would also look into areas under their jurisdiction, e.g. SCDF will be focusing on fire safety-related issues.
One-stop Building Innovation Panel (BIP)
New construction technologies or methods often take a longer time to obtain approvals by the various regulatory agencies. Such a process might deter potential innovative products or methods which help to boost construction productivity to be introduced in Singapore. In May 2011, the inter-agency BIP was established to facilitate expedient multiple agency evaluation and approval of innovative construction products and methods that help improve construction productivity by at least 20%.
Led by MND and BCA, the panel includes other agencies such as HDB, JTC, NEA, LTA, URA, SCDF, PUB and MOM.
For applications that have been approved by the Panel, the regulatory agencies issue an in-principle acceptance (IPA) letter for the innovative product or method. For subsequent project submission involving the products or methods issued with IPA, the submission will be accorded fast-track status. Through the BIP, new productive technologies such as PPVC and CLT can now be used in Singapore.
The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is an agency under the Ministry of National Development, whose mission is to shape a safe, high quality, sustainable and friendly built environment. As the lead public agency, we champion transforming Singapore into a future-ready built environment.
Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA)
Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA) is a key pillar of Singapore’s Construction Industry Transformation Map (ITM). It is a game-changing method of construction which involves construction being designed for manufacturing off-site in a controlled environment, before being assembled on-site.
Prefabricated Bathroom Unit
Prefabricated Bathroom Unit (PBU) is a bathroom unit, which is preassembled off-site complete with finishes, sanitary wares, concealed pipes, conduits, ceiling and bathroom cabinets, before it is delivered and installed on-site.
Why use PBUs
Improved Productivity– Manpower and time savings of up to 30% can be achieved at trade level.
Better Construction Environment– Less dust and noise is generated as bathroom fixtures and finishing are completed off-site.
Improved Quality Control– Off-site fabrication can result in higher quality end products through quality control in a factory-like environment.
What to consider when using PBUs
Early contractor involvement– Developers/project managers should engage a PBU supplier and main contractor during the design stage of the project. Layout and detailing of the PBU needs to be considered early to ensure that structural, architectural and MEP considerations are addressed before fabrication begins.
Site / project management– The weight, installation method and placement of PBUs should be taken into consideration when deciding the capacity of the lifting equipment. Forward planning to ensure assembly of the PBUs are completed ahead of time in the factory and delivered to site just in time for installation would prevent unnecessary double handling.
Maintenance, replacement and renovation– All PBUs should have a Manufacturer’s Label containing key details of the PBU and manufacturer’s contact information. Similar to conventional bathrooms, tile finishes on PBUs can be replaced, while provisions of barrier-free accessibility design are provided for. It is good practice for developers/builders to provide a homeowner user manual for the PBU. For any renovation works, it is recommended for homeowners to engage a contractor who would use the appropriate tools and follow the instructions provided in the homeowner user manual.
Compliance to regulation
PBU Acceptance Framework– To ensure that the different PBU systems meet the required performance standards, BCA has set up a PBU Acceptance Framework consisting of building regulatory agencies as well as industry experts to evaluate the design and materials used. PBU suppliers and manufacturers who intend to supply their PBU systems to be used at the mandated development sites should apply for acceptance.
Requirements for residential non-landed Government Land Sale sites– The use of PBU is required for all residential non-landed and residential non-landed components of mixed-use developments on Government Land Sale (GLS) sites from 1 November 2014 onwards. Further details on the requirement can be found in the Building Control (Buildability and Productivity) Regulations and in the Code of Practice on Buildability.
Prefabricated Bathroom Unit (PBU) suppliers and manufacturers who intend to supply their PBU systems to be used at development sites must first ensure that their PBU system meets the following performance requirements.
Performance requirements for PBUs
Performance requirements for wall panels
Wall panels manufactured with non-concrete or lightweight concrete materials must be tested for strength, robustness, physical and moisture-related properties. The list of tests are available under Appendix C and Appendix D of the PBU Acceptance Framework.
Wall panels should not be susceptible to corrosion.
Access to utilities for maintenance, repair and replacement
The vertical soil stack should be readily accessible from outside the PBU and within the dwelling unit or from the common areas of the same floor.
Access panels must be provided at the ceiling within the PBU to provide access for maintenance, repair and replacement of overhead services and utilities.
Figure 1: Sample layouts with different positions of vertical soil stack (or vertical shaft).
Figure 2: Alternative layout options which allow the vertical stack to be accessible for future maintenance from air-conditioning ledge or an adjacent room
Allow for replacement of tiles
The PBU must allow for tile replacement to be done via hacking with chisel and hammer, or their equivalent tools, without resulting in damage to the wall panels or backing board.
Provision for barrier-free accessibility design requirements
For PBUs with wall panels manufactured with non-concrete or lightweight concrete materials, provision shall be made on the wall panels for future installation of grab bars in the prefabricated bathroom unit.
Location for future installation of grab bars and the installation method statement shall be included in the homeowner user manual.
Figure 3: Example of grab bars in a bathroom
Affix a manufacturer’s label
A manufacturer’s label is to be affixed within the interior of the PBU.
Material of the label should be waterproof and rustproof.
Dimension of label: 6cm by 10cm.
Include the following information on the label:
(a) Date of manufacture in the following format: Month/Year生产日期格式如下:月/年
(b) Name of manufacturer制造厂名
(c) Company address of manufacturer制造商公司地址
(d) Contact number of manufacturer制造商联系电话
(e) Material of wall panel墙板材料
(f) Material of floor pan底板材料
Figure 4: Sample of manufacturer’s label to be affixed within PBU
Provide a homeowner user manual
A user manual shall be provided to homeowners upon the handing over of the unit.
The manual should include the following information:
(a) General information about the PBU 有关PBU的一般资料
(i) Introduction to the PBU 简介
(ii) Safety notices
(iii) Instructions for use
(b) Structure of the PBU
(iv) Water piping
(v) Sanitary discharge pipe/vertical soil stack
(vi) Electrical conduits
(c) Layout of the PBU
(i) General layout of the PBU
(ii) Locations of concealed services (to provide a detailed as-built drawing indicating the routing of all mechanical, electrical and plumbing services that are embedded within or behind the bathroom walls)
(iii) Location of the manufacturer’s label
(d) Cleaning and maintenance advice
(i) Internal fittings, tiles and accessories
(ii) Floor trap
(iii) Ceiling access panels
(iv) Access to vertical stack
(e) Alteration, repair and replacement works
(i) Replacement of accessories/installation of additional fittings
(ii) Availability and supply of spare parts
(iii) Instructions for drilling and fixing
(iv) Instructions for tile replacement
(v) Instructions for grab bars installation
Requirements by other regulatory authorities
The detailed layout and design of the PBU system, when used in a development project, are to be satisfactory and in compliance with the technical requirements of all other relevant regulatory authorities.
Industry good practices
The Industry Good Practices Guide provides builders and manufacturers with recommendations on areas such as transportation, protection measures, installation, renovation as well as maintenance of PBUs.
Design considerations with adopting PBUs
Designers may refer to this video clip for the design considerations in adopting PBUs.
PBU Architectural Design Considerations
Tile replacement methods
Homeowners and renovation contractors may refer to the video guides on tile replacement for PBUs with drywalls or metal panel walls for the recommended tile replacement methods. Homeowners are reminded to always refer to the homeowner user manual or check with their respective Developers on the bathroom types installed in their apartments before carrying out renovation or repair works.
PBU with Drywalls
PBU with Metal Panel Walls
Prefabricated Bathroom Unit (PBU) Acceptance Framework
PBU designs have evolved over the years and may also involve the use of alternative materials in its fabrication. To ensure that the different PBU systems being used at development sites are reliable and durable, BCA has set up an acceptance framework consisting of building regulatory agencies as well as industry experts to ensure that the design and materials used are robust and can meet the minimum standards set.
A more detailed explanation of the acceptance framework as illustrated in Figure 1 can be found below:
(a) Check for performance requirements – PBU suppliers and manufacturers who intend to supply their PBU systems to development sites must first ensure that their PBU system meets the PBU performance requirements. For the performance requirements, please refer to the 《Code of Practice on Buildability 2017》.
(b) Submit application to BIP– Applicants should submit the completed application form and supporting documents to the PBU Screening Panel under BIP.
(c) Evaluation by BIP – There are two separate evaluation stages.
Stage 1: Consists of a PBU Screening Panel chaired by BCA and other industry representatives, who will evaluate the design and materials used.
Stage 2: Once the PBU system is accepted by the PBU Screening Panel, the BIP Secretariat will then assist and coordinate submissions to the remaining regulatory agencies under the BIP and facilitate early resolution of outstanding issues between the applicant and the respective agencies.
(d) In Principle Acceptance – If accepted, relevant letters of In Principle Acceptance (IPA) will be issued to the PBU supplier/manufacturer.
(e) Listing on BCA’s website – View list of PBU systems with In Principle Acceptance.
How to apply
Please send in your application with the following documents:
a. A completed and duly signed application form
b. Completed checklist, Appendix A and B
c. Presentation slides on the proposed PBU system (you may refer to the sample template for the recommended presentation flow and content). Presentation content should cover all the necessary content per the checklist (item b), and should also show that the proposed PBU system can meet all the PBU performance requirements.
d. Additional supporting documents (e.g. material or product specification, quality certifications or test reports by accredited laboratories etc)
e. A set of drawings of your proposed PBU system as per the requirements in the Table Reference and suggested template
f. Test reports for boards used as wall and floor of PBUs (please refer to Appendix C for the list of test methods required)
g. Test reports for lightweight concrete panels used as wall and floor of PBUs (please refer to Appendix D for the list of test methods required, with IPA dated on or after 1 Jan 2017 onwards.)
h. Any other relevant information
Prefabricated Bathroom Units (PBU) Frequently Asked Questions
Last updated on 4 August 2015
1. Why should PBU suppliers get the In-Principle Acceptance (IPA) from the Building Innovation Panel (BIP) for their PBU systems?
PBUs granted IPA from the BIP, which the production facilities are accredited under the PBU Manufacturer Accreditation Scheme (PBU MAS) as stated in the Code of Practice are listed on BCA’s website to facilitate industry users to source for PBUs which have been accredited. PBUs granted IPA from the BIP usually also get processed faster for approval under the Building Control Act. However, suppliers/users are to note that they still have to ensure that the PBU systems are safe for public use and comply with all regulatory requirements. As a condition for developments on land sold under the Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme from 1 November 2014, all residential (non-landed) developments including Executive Condominiums and residential non-landed component of mixed-use developments are to adopt PBUs for at least 65% of the total number of bathroom units. The PBU system must be accredited by a body specified in the Code of Practice. This requirement is stated in the Building Control (Buildability and Productivity) Regulations 2011. With effect from 9 December 2014, residential non-landed developments that wish to tap on the Balcony Bonus Gross Floor Area (GFA) Scheme are required to adopt at least 80% PBUs. The PBU systems adopted for such developments must also be granted with IPA by the BIP and have the production facilities accredited. Should other development types or residential projects not under the GLS Programme or which did not apply for the Balcony Bonus GFA scheme adopt the PBU systems that obtained IPA from BIP, they will be accorded with higher Buildable Design Scores.
2. Can the PBU suppliers provide different PBU systems from the ones submitted to Building Innovation Panel (BIP)?
In-Principle Acceptances (IPAs) are issued to the PBU suppliers for their PBU systems that have met the requirements for use in residential non-landed projects in Singapore. This means that the BIP has no objection to the use of the specific PBU systems. Hence, the PBU suppliers should provide the same PBU systems as their submission to BIP.
3. Is it still necessary for the PBU systems that have been granted In-Principle Acceptances (IPAs) from Building Innovation Panel (BIP) to obtain the necessary permits or approval of plans from the relevant regulatory agencies?
Yes, it is still necessary.
4. Is it necessary to apply to Building Innovation Panel (BIP) under the PBU Acceptance Framework again for different projects?
It is not necessary for the PBU supplier to go through BIP process again for different projects if the PBU system adopted has already been granted with In-Principle Acceptance (IPA) and the PBU supplier engaged is the one issued with the IPA. While BIP has no objection, the project Qualified Persons (QPs) need to ensure the PBU systems are suitable for use in each specific project.
5. How long is the process of obtaining In-Principle Acceptance (IPA) for PBU system under the Building Innovation Panel (BIP)?
Upon application to the PBU Screening Panel (Stage 1) under the BIP, the secretariat will contact the applicant within three (3) working days to arrange a suitable timeslot for the aforesaid presentation. The waiting time for the presentation is subject to the available timeslots and the number of applicants in the queue. Subsequently, if the BIP has no major concerns with the design of the proposed PBU system, the time required for BIP to evaluate the proposed PBU system and issue letter of IPA is usually three (3) months from the presentation to the PBU Screening Panel . As the production facilities need to be accredited under the PBU Manufacturer Accreditation Scheme (MAS) before they can begin production of the PBUs for use at the mandated Government Land Sales (GLS) sites , it is advisable for industry stakeholders to understand the requirements of the PBU MAS upfront and check that the PBU production facilities have been accredited. The mandated GLS sites refer to all residential (non-landed) developments including Executive Condominiums and residential non-landed component of mixed-use developments that are sold under the GLS Programme from 1 November 2014.
6. When can PBU manufacturer start applying for PBU Manufacturer Accreditation Scheme (MAS)?
The PBU manufacturer can apply for the accreditation under the PBU MAS after it has obtained the IPA from BIP.
7. Is it acceptable for PBUs to be produced at fabrication yard on Temporary Occupation Licence (TOL) land?
It is acceptable for fabrication yard on TOL land to produce PBUs for use at GLS site, as long as the PBU system has been accredited under the PBU Manufacturer Accreditation Scheme (PBU MAS). For the accreditation criteria and other requirements under MAS, please refer to Singapore Concrete Institute (SCI) website via URL: http://www.scinst.org.sg/page.php?67.
8. Must all PBUs be fully-finished and fitted out at the production facilities before delivery to the construction site?
In accordance with Building Control (Buildability and Productivity) Regulations, for non-landed residential developments on land sold under the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme from 1 November 2014, PBU systems adopted need to be preassembled off-site complete with finishes, sanitary wares, concealed pipes, conduits, ceiling, bathroom cabinets, shower screen and fittings before installing in position in order to meet the PBU performance requirements.
9. Will mock-up of proposed PBU system be required by the Building Innovation Panel (BIP)?
Mock-up of the proposed PBU system might be requested by the PBU Screening Panel in Stage 1 of BIP.
10. Do I need to notify BCA that my project will be using PBUs?
Since 1 September 2013, QPs are required to submit a Buildability Detailed Design and Implementation Plan to BCA during building plan submission together with the Buildable Design Score (B-score) computation form. The Buildability Detailed Design and Implementation Plan (BDIP) shows the basis on how the B-score is computed. Both the BDIP and the B-score would show that PBUs are being used.
11. Do consultant and owner/developer need to notify BCA on PBU supplier engaged?
If yes, at which stage and who to notify? As you are required to indicate the accepted PBU system (i.e. the PBU system has been granted IPA by the BIP) in the B-score form when you submit building plan, it would not be necessary for you to notify BCA separately on the PBU system/PBU supplier to be used/engaged for a project. BCA will also carry out checks including site inspections to verify the PBU system used.
12. Do we need to include full details of the PBUs used in our building plan submission before we appoint the PBU supplier? What information is BCA looking for in the building plan submission on PBU?
In the event that the PBU supplier is not confirmed at the time of structural or building plan submission to BCA, please indicate an accepted PBU system that best suits the project as a preliminary system in the B-score form. Should the PBU system being considered is still pending in-principle acceptance (IPA) and/or provisional certificate, please indicate this PBU system in the form. The Buildability Detailed Design and Implementation Plan should also reflect this preliminary PBU system. However, please note that when the PBU supplier has been confirmed and the PBU system has been accepted by the BIP, you are required to resubmit the B-score form and the Buildability Detailed Design and Implementation Plan to BCA. Please also take note that until the PBU has been accepted by BIP and the production facilities have been accredited under the PBU Manufacturer Accreditation Scheme (PBU MAS), you are not allowed to install the PBUs at site.
13. How will BCA enforce that the developers/main contractors are using the PBU systems that have been granted IPA by the BIP, and the production facilities have been accredited under the PBU MAS for the projects mentioned in above-mentioned item 1? Also, what is the penalty for non-compliance?