‘Monster’ House or Loss of ‘Face’?

Monster-House-Jalan-Angin-L

Jalan Angin Laut was rife with strife earlier this year with the erection of a ‘Monster’ three-storey building that overshadowed most of the Simei estate.

According to a The Sunday Times report, the house will include an attic, a swimming pool and over 10 rooms, with an attached bathroom each.

The building has been completed and stands at a height of 16.5 m with a length of 40 m, towering over the adjacent one-storey residential unit.

Since 1994, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has placed building restrictions on most neighbourhoods “to preserve the character and ambience of established landed housing estates”, said a spokesman.

Some residents complained of how the general ‘feel’ of the estate have expressed the loss of a sense of belonging.

What The Rules Say

The Building Height Plan that was established with the implementation of the URA Master Plan 2008 has the following plot ratio spelt out as follows:

Plot-Ratio-to-Storey-Height

Despite taking up most of the land space the unit has, the ‘Monster’ home sits within the above parameters. Its main contractor Anthony Ang said it has met all relevant guidelines and has written permission from the URA.

Land scarcity is a prevalent issue in Singapore and such reconstructions may be inevitable, and especially so for landed properties. The URA spokesperson said such disparities in size are only transitional and will eventually subside as the surrounding houses are gradually redeveloped over time.

Redevelopments would refer to a situation where the entire building is demolished a new building erected. Reconstruction would refer to an increase in gross floor area of your property, or the replacement of external walls of your building.

Some of these procedures may require a development charge, and vary amongst home types such as terrace or semi-detached house. Various regulations are in place for different alterations.

Architects may have fitted out your property with illegal modifications over the years, such as attic space for better use of living space. You may want to ensure that your contractor is well-versed with the URA guidelines to be on safe side.

Feng Shui & Estate Aesthetics

If you should decide to add an additional floor, you may want to be sensitive to the feelings and beliefs of your neighbours.

Here in Singapore with a Chinese majority in the population, Feng Shui, an ancient Chinese system of aesthetics, remains important to most homeowners. Observance of Feng Shui fundamentals is believed to affect the various aspects of one’s life.

It’d be prudent not to block off too much sunlight from adjacent homes, as sunlight is thought to be the most basic form of qi, or energy, in Feng Shui. A house with poor Feng Shui often has a lowered valuation, as a good number of Asians find it undesirable to live in.

Also, anomalies such as the Monster home may also affect prices of the units within the same estate. As with most societies, the relative size and look of one’s home compared to other establishments in the vicinity is a symbol of wealth, and hence, social status.

It’s understandable how few would want to pay a seven-figure sum for an ageing one-storey bungalow that’s overshadowed by the gleaming, new three-storey monster home next to it; it’s almost as if your neighbour is deliberately trying to make you look bad.

So ultimately, building regulations or not, all this ruckus boils down to Asian culture and its petty ‘face-saving’ mindsets.