Friday 9 April 2021

HDB Top Floor Good Or Not?


I was pleasantly surprised when I see this old post below getting quite a bit of readership recently:

Got lucky again - I got my HDB SERS penthouse replacement!

Then I found out there's a discussion at HardwareZone about this topic. Somehow my post turned up as part of the google search so some readers stumbled into this watering hole...

Funny thing the discussion about HDB top floor good or not wasn't even in my post - it  was in the comments section!?

Just thought I might as well write a "coaching" post for those readers who really want to know.

So here goes!

Eh bro! Is HDB top floor good or not?

I heard from some urban myths that HDB top floor no good. Very hot! 

And if unlucky, will leak when it rains...

Who told you so?

My mom.

Ah! So its not from first hand experience... 

Come, sit down and have a cup of coffee.

Let me help you find the answer yourself

You're an adult; tertiary educated some more. I won't treat you like a "bei kambing". Wink.

Are you buying a new HDB BTO or resale HDB flat from the open market?

If its BTO, never mind. But you can read on for the fun of it.

If its resale, go look at those HDB flats that were built from the early 70s to late 80s and those that were built within the last 10 years or less.

Can you spot the top floors, they looked different, no? 

Its quite obvious isn't it?

Does it solve your worries if you are buying a resale flat less than 10 years old?

How about those resale flats in between?

Then you may want to check when was the last time HDB did an upgrading work on the block. Especially whether they did a reroofing for better heat insulation and waterproofing.

Look, big daddy is quite transparent about during the early days of nation building, the focus was on speed rather than quality when it comes to delivery of HDB flats to the masses.

A lot of lessons learnt from "crash got sound" were internalised and used for future HDB flat designs.

Let's take toilets. 

The first generation of HDB 3 room flats (3S) came with only 1 toilet and shower combined. Which was very unpopular. Gor! Can you shower faster! I need to shit!

HDB quickly introduced the new improved (3I) version with 1 toilet and 1 shower separately. This makes more sense!

Over the years the design keeps evolving until we now have 2 toilet/shower in new 3 room BTO flats. No need to fight for toilets in the mornings! 

This makes renting out rooms to tenants more convenient too!

Ask yourself.

You seriously think HDB has not improved the waterproofing and heat insulation of their HDB flats over the years?

Why do you think we have those HDB upgrading for? 

If not to rectify old design oversights, what then? 

Remember those lifts that do not stop at every floor in older HDB flats?

My old flat at Stirling Road lagi poor design. We had lifts that stopped at mid-level between floors??? 

Of course can excuse the young architects then who had no idea about aging, wheelchairs, and hospital gurneys...  

Thank goodness nothing like a lift upgrading exercise cannot solve. Wink.

Let me guess.

Your mom is staying at the top floor of those HDB flats built in the 70s?

How did I know?

Just saying...

P.S.  For readers who aspire to upgrading to private properties one day, you may want to ponder whether only HDB dwellers will ask such questions. 

Would private property buyers ask whether top floor good or not?

Yeah hor?

If no good who would pay $20-$30 million for a penthouse apartment on the top floor of a condo?

Even landed properties have a "top floor". 

So only buy single story bungalows?

Wait a minute. 

Single story is also "top floor" between you, the sun and the rain!!!


You are thinking for yourself!


  1. Smol,

    Not forgetting, if really got leak down the road, top floor units no need to bear a single cent ... repairs will be handled by town council & HDB.

    Better than condo even lol.

    Unlike intermediate floor units, where the nightmare is getting your upstairs neighbour to cooperate, let alone having to cough up some $$$ --- most of the time, your neighbours will just deny any responsibility!

    And yes, it's the same with condos too.

    1. For HDB, easy lah! 50% cost sharing. Of course; your upstairs neighbour tulan. Pay money and does renovation job. If positive thinking then happy; see 50% subsidy by yr neighbor! LOL!

    2. Spur and CW,

      If I'm the upstairs neighbour, and I've not done any renovation to my unit, why should I pay 25% of the repair costs for my neighbour below???

      Would you?

      Plus I got to bear with the renovation hassle too as the upstairs neighbour...

      I would think I should get compensated instead!

      I'll probably do it willingly only if the neighbour below is a pretty "jie-jie" that's 36,24,36 ;)


      Ar ber then?

    3. CW,

      I believe HDB will subsidise 50% of the repair costs if its wear and tear. The balance 50% will be borne between you and your upstairs neigbour.

      But if the leak is caused by the upstairs neighbour doing renovation, then its 100% he pays!

      Now the tables turned. Why should I, the downstairs neighbour, pay anything that's not caused by me???

      Unless again the upstairs neighbour is pretty, pretty "kakak" ;)

    4. Smol,

      The law & authorities tend to default the cause to the upstairs unit. But cooperation by unit owners is still needed for contractors to determine exact cause.


      HDB is easy-er, but still not easy, when dealing with uncooperative neighbour. After many months HDB will take legal action on your behalf.

      For condo, you gotta sue them yourself.

      But, if you're living in a top floor hdb ... like someone familiar here ... then you don't need to worry about all the above. Taxpayer money has got your back (and ceiling) kekeke.

    5. 30 over old flat. Sure wear and tear if we keep scrubbing the toilet floor hard week after week.

      I went to see MP to get it settled and after that neighbor became "enemy" till now. HDB sent inspector and advised remedy actions and list of HDB contactors to engage for the repair or renovation.

      Few years later, we had HDB upgrading program that included complete upgrading of toilets, wall tiles and sewage pipes. I guessed that neighbor lagi tulan! LOL!

    6. Uncle8888,

      Luckily your neighbour cooperated after a bit of poking. He could have totally ignored HDB for months until HDB got no choice but to go to court.

      I think in the olden days, HDB don't even bother to sue, as intermediate ceiling leaks are strictly private matter between unit owners.

      Now got non-hacking methods to solve ceiling leaks. Good option especially if got HIP few years down the road.

    7. CW,

      Thanks for your real people real experience sharing!

      OK, must put a mental note to be prepared if my downstairs neighbour 30 years later start to want me to "share" the costs of repair even thought its no fault of my own! (I don't buy scrubbing the toilet floor argument one bit. That's BS!)

      Hmm... Maybe that's why some homeowners always change homes every 10-15 years?

      Not only to benefit financially from the capital gains, but by replacing old lamps with new lamps, they can also "escape" and pass the inevitable wear and tear burdens to the next home buyer ;)


    8. Spur,

      Its good to know taxpayers and big daddy got my back!

      Our discussion reminds me of the picture where its better to perch on the highest branch if we are birds.

      You shit on others; others can't shit on you ;)

  2. Hi SMOL,

    Wah! You getting more famous. Your name is everywhere, lol.

    Recently, one of my blog contents mentioning you got circulated on Singapore Crypto Telegram Chats:

    "One piece of advice that my veteran trader friend SMOL gave me when I started out investing is to keep a diary of the emotions that I am feeling at the point of a trade. Since then, I have paused before every buy/sell trade, collected myself and recognize the emotions at play, before hitting the trigger."

    1. Unintelligent Nerd,

      LOL! How did I get associated with the crypto community?

      I keep telling myself no capitulation.

      As IT dinosaur, I'll stick with the 5,000 year old asset that cryptos are trying to displace.

      But recent price action has cryptos coming out on top...

      Oh well...

      As for diary to record emotions, that's me being right-brained ;)

      Left-brained people prefer recording numbers with precision in 2 decimal places... (Cannot flex in dollars; flex in percentages!)

      But how would that help us in developing the Mind part of the 3Ms?

      In trading, just like playing gacha games, if we rage summons, do revenge battles in PvP, that's how the game developer makes money off us...

      We trade to make money. Period.

      Not to show the market who's "right"...

      Not to break-even one day...

      Not to turn a trade into something we'll gift our grandchildren...

      When I find myself mentally not on even keel, I'll walk away from my monitor.

      Take a walk, play my gacha game, listen to music; etc.

      Sure, I can't make money that way; I don't LOSE money either ;)


  3. I bought and sold a HDB top floor before and it is >40 yrs. No problem with top floor ceiling leaking. It is not near to the water tank. But if water tank or rain leak, should be HDB's problem for sure!

    But there is one genuine problem. Normally top floor gets hotter. This is a fact, and it also applies to Condo Penthouse and Landed.

    But the difference between landed and penthouse Vs HDB is in general the former two have higher ceiling, and hence the house is not as hot.

    For my previous HDB, the top floor ceiling did gets hotter, and we did plastering more frequent than our lower floor neighbours. How many years will it get worse? I don't know?

    I also have experience in Condo that my bottom neighbour complain leaking. In general, it is potentially a very big problem and can ended up in court, if you do not solve their problem. I did stay in the 2nd highest floor.

    One fact as you can look at all the transaction is that in general top highest floor if compare apple to apple is cheaper than 2nd highest floor. I know this because for Condo sale, normally it is priced in this manner that 2nd highest floor with the best view is more ex than highest floor, and they are consider VVIP units.

    1. Rolf,

      I stayed on the 2nd storey at my previous Stirling Road flat. On hot days its hot; on cool days its cool. Never felt 2nd storey is "cooler" than the higher floors ;)

      I see lot of lower HDB flats having air-con. I guess staying at lower floors does not mean we can save on air-con ;)

      Was pleasantly surprised my new BTO flat's ceiling a lot higher than my current and previous HDB flats.

      The building contractor that came to my flat to rectify some hairline cracks on the kitchen wall tiles was very envious and told me the lower floors' ceiling much lower.

      Like I've said, HDB have learnt from previous crash got sound feedback/lessons and have continuously applied new heat insulation and water proofing techniques in their BTO designs.

      Context is important.

      Using experiences in flats/condos built 40-50 years ago and applying that to form OPINIONS on new developments built in the last 10 years, is like saying the camera quality in handphones is subpar based on the experience of using the camera feature when it was first introduced during MMS days eons ago with dumb handphones...

      Now who needs a compact camera? The picture quality in smart handphones today is simply amazing! Can even make movies on iPhones!

      As for those condos where the 2nd highest floors are considered VVIP units, let me make a guess...

      These are older developments with no penthouse units at the top?


      I can also make the case where units on the 8th or 18th floor can be sold at higher prices than the top floors.

      Its all about marketing spin :)

      Just as long buyers swallowed it hook, line, and sinker!

      Sell flower say flower flagrant ;)

  4. And my HDB was highest floor and it still sell perfectly fine at higher price!

    1. Rolf,

      There you go!

      Evidently there are buyers who knew about the existence of air-con and have no problem paying a premium to get the top floor ;)

      This fascination with the top or upper floors can be seen in the corporate world too.

      Same company.

      The higher the floor we worked in, the higher the status and prestige?

      When was the last time we saw the CEO office located at a lower floor than his/her underlings?



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