The Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) was announced in parliament by then Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan on 7 March 2005, with the objective of involving the private sector in building public housing. The DBSS enables the existing public-housing programme to be more sensitive to the changing needs of Singaporeans and offers alternative options for aspiring homeowners with higher disposable incomes. The co-opting of the private sector in the building of flats is also a strategy by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) to move away from its builder role in order to concentrate on regulating the public-housing sector.
Under the DBSS, developers have to bid for the open land tender and take charge of the entire process of flat design, construction and sale. To ensure that these flats remain affordable, first-time buyers can apply for Central Provident Fund (CPF) housing grants of between S$30,000 and S$40,000, while second-time buyers are exempt from paying the resale levy on the price of their previous flat. Eligible buyers can also obtain loans from the HDB at concessionary rates. The price of DBSS flats are measured against the prices of new and resale HDB flats. To entice buyers, priority quotas typically given to first-time homeowners, as well as couples who buy flats within close proximity of their parents’ homes, were lifted after the first month of the DBSS project launch. At the time the DBSS was introduced, prospective homeowners were subject to the same eligibility conditions that apply to flats built by the HDB, such as an S$8,000 monthly household income ceiling. To ensure that public housing remains affordable, this ceiling for DBSS flats was increased to between S$8,000 and S$10,000 from 30 August 2010.
Private developers of DBSS flats have greater autonomy in deciding on the “flat design, size, type and configuration”, provided they adhere to the prevailing HDB public-housing guidelines concerning “open concept, building quality and safety and avoidance of facilities that are expensive to maintain”. Flat prices are also determined by developers, taking into account the regulations imposed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
The launch of the pilot DBSS project was initially met with tepid response from private developers due to the unpredictability of the property market, a persistent excess of 9,000 new flats and unfamiliarity with the public-housing market and its numerous stipulations. As an incentive, HDB provided classified statistics on the demand and supply of its new and resale flats to help developers have a better gauge of the public-housing market. Several briefings on the DBSS and its regulations were held for the Real Estate Developers Association and individual developers. The HDB also offered a leasehold tenure of 103 years for successful bidders of DBSS projects, to ensure that buyers would have a full 99-year lease on their flats.
Upon completion of DBSS flats, private developers are liable for any building defects for up to a one-year period, but the maintenance of common areas and public carparks in the estate will come under the purview of the town council. DBSS flats have a 99-year lease, which is administered by HDB upon the completion of the flats.
The pilot DBSS site sale tender was launched on 27 October 2005. The identified site, located at Tampines Avenue 6, measured 2.1 ha (21,000 sq m) with a gross floor area of 67,200 sq m and a potential yield of about 500 units.
Since 2005, 13 DBSS projects have been launched in the more mature estates popular among homeowners. These projects comprise:
1. The Premiere at Tampiness
2. City View @ Boon Keng
3. Park Central @ Ang Mo Kio
4. Natura Loft (Bishan)
5. Parc Lumiere (Simei)
6.The Peak @ Toa Payoh
7. Adora Green (Yishun)
8. Centrale 8 (Tampines)
9. Belvia (Bedok)
10. Parkland Residences (Hougang)
11. Lake Vista @ Yuan Ching
12. Trivelis (Clementi)
13. Pasir Ris One
1. Ho, A. (2005, March 8). HDB flats to be designed, built, sold like private ones. The Business Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Housing & Development Board. (2014, October 2). Design, Build & Sell Scheme (DBSS). Retrieved October 3, 2014, from HDB InfoWEB website: http://www.hdb.gov.sg/fi10/fi10321p.nsf/w/BuyingNewFlatModeDBSS?OpenDocument
2. Loo, D. (2005, October 14). HDB moves to attract private builders. The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Chua, M. H. (2005, March 8). Private sector to sell HDB flats: Risky but bold. The Straits Times, p. 5; Private sector to build for HDB. (2005, August 16). Today, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Sim, A. (2005, September 8). No resale levy for DBSS flat buyers: Mah. The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Ministry of Information, Communications & the Arts. (2005, August 15). Speech by Mr Mah Bow Tan, Minister for National Development, at the Housing & Development (Amendment) Bill Second Reading, 15 August 2005, 5pm. Retrieved October 7, 2014, from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
6. Private developers can now design, build – and sell – HDB flats. (2005, September 8). Today, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. The Straits Times, 8 Sep 2005, p. 30; Eligibility to buy DBSS flat. (2014, September 2). Housing and Development Board. Retrieved October 3, 2014, from the Housing and Development Board website:
8. The Business Times, 8 Mar 2005, p. 3.
9. The Straits Times, 14 Oct 2005, p. 12.
10. Bhalla, S. T. (2005, October 28). A longer land lease. Today, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Housing & Development Board. (2014, April 3). Land developers and users: Design, Build & Sell Scheme (DBSS). Retrieved October 3, 2014, from HDB InfoWEB website: http://www.hdb.gov.sg/fi10/fi10330p.nsf/w/LandDevMangDBSS?OpenDocument; Ministry of Information, Communications & the Arts, 15 Aug 2005.
12. Loo, D. (2005, October 28). Builders attend HDB’s site sale launch. The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Housing & Development Board. (2014, October 2). Buying a new flat: Design, Build & Sell Scheme (DBSS). Retrieved October 3, 2014, from HDB InfoWEB website: http://www.hdb.gov.sg/fi10/fi10321p.nsf/w/BuyingNewFlatModeDBSS?OpenDocument; The Straits Times, 8 Mar 2005, p. 3.
The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.