Why I bought a 3Gen HDB flat instead of an executive maisonette for my family

Reasons why Valerie bought a 3Gen HDB flat instead of an executive maisonette for her family.
PHOTO: Stackedhomes

In a perfect world, everyone will have a generously-sized home, affordable, and maybe even the capacity to practice filial piety, all while planning to grow our family within budget. It's every Singaporean's dream, right? 

But here's the reality: Big homes are getting increasingly unaffordable and new launches are just shrinking smaller. Bigger families that want to live with multi-generations under one roof will find it tough to find something that is affordably priced. 

There is one option though that may often be overlooked, a 3Gen HDB flat. 

This week, we spoke to Valerie (*not her real name for privacy reasons) about her journey to eventually buying a 3Gen Flat for her future family planning and parents in Tampines. 

Introducing the 3Gen flat 

Built for multi-generational families, 3Gen flats are a little special as they were first introduced in the Sept 2013 BTO launch as a way to help multi-generation households live under one roof. 

They have: 

  • Four bedrooms, two of them ensuite
  • A Kitchen 
  • A common bathroom
  • A service yard
  • An apartment shelter 
  • A living-dining area 

Although 3Gen flats have the most number of bedrooms (four rooms!) and bathrooms (three of them!), its average total size is not the largest, ranging at an average of 1,237 sq ft.

In fact, a typical five-room flat is about 1,184 sq ft, so it's not that much bigger all things considered. 

Hunting for the perfect find

While on the hunt for a suitable space to house her growing family, Valerie was conflicted about her options. 

These were her main considerations: 

  • She needed her home to be spacious, 
  • To have great neighbourhood amenities, 
  • To be within her budget and 
  • Have flexible rooms to accommodate the children that she might have in the future. 

Her husband and herself generally preferred older resale flats like executive maisonettes due to the more generously-sized units, which were essential for them to accommodate their elderly parents and future kids. 

As such, their first move was to look for such older five-room flats: "We were considering on a five-room flat initially until we were introduced to the 3Gen flat type by our friend.

Our initial consideration was only old resale flats, like the five-room or the Executive Mansionettes since our family size will grow to be considerably bigger." 

Making the call

Eventually, she settled for a 3Gen HDB resale flat that was purchased through the Sale of Balance Flat (SBF) scheme in the last quarter of 2019.

For those who are not familiar with SBF, HDB conducts SBF launches twice annually, usually in the months of May and November. 

But despite having balloted in late 2019, Valerie only managed to receive her new keys in December 2021 (prior to the family moving in, the unit was vacant for a good two years). 

That said, the waiting time is definitely still overall shorter than trying for the BTO since these balance flats are already undergoing construction. That's a big plus point if waiting four to five years is not an option.

However, the prices are adjusted accordingly to reflect its market rates, so do expect to pay slightly higher than BTOs but lesser than resale flats. 

A slightly special buying process

When Valerie started the buying process, she was concerned that it would be more complicated, but she learned that it was actually mostly similar: "The process and applications remain the same as applying for any BTO.

"However, two additional steps are that there are more required documents to complete and that all names declared as occupants and owners would have to be present on the day of the transaction at the HDB branch". 

Declaration of income for all owners and the occupants is necessary too since there is an income ceiling for purchasing 3Gen BTO and SBF units.  

Eligibility criteria

For those looking for 3Gen flats as an option, you should note that not everyone can buy one, and only by fulfilling certain criteria will make you be eligible to ballot for one. 

Criteria New Flats (through BTO) and Resale Prime location Public Housing (PLH) Flats Resale Flats
Citizenship You must:
  • Be a Singapore Citizen (SC)
  • Include at least one other SC or Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR)^
  • At least one parent must be an SC or SPR
You must:
  • Be an SC or SPR
  • Include at least one occupant who is an SC or SPR
  • For SPR households (i.e., an SPR household with no SC owners):
  • All SPR owners and essential occupiers must have SPR status for three years
  • At least one parent must be an SC or SPR

# An essential occupier is a family member who has enabled the applicant(s) to qualify to buy a flat.

They do not have ownership of the flat and must remain in the flat application, as well as during the minimum occupation period after the flat purchase.

Age At least 21 years old   
Monthly Household Income Ceiling $21,000* if purchasing with an extended or multi-generation family (refer to the guide for more details)

No income ceiling

Note: Income ceiling applies to qualify for CPF housing grants (excluding Proximity Housing Grant) and HDB housing loans.

Another key point that Valerie stressed was that these flats can only be sold to buyers of the same family nucleus in the future, should there ever come a need.

However, Valerie and her husband's plans stretch pretty long-term for this unit. Their next move will likely only be a downgrade option when their children decide to get married and move out of the place. We'd say that this downside is worth overlooking if their commitment is more than 10 years. 

On the topic of affordability and grants, 3Gen flat buyers are entitled to different offerings depending if you bought a BTO or resale 3Gen flat. Which, by the way, you can see your eligibility for grants when registering your Intent to Buy.

BTO Resale
Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (ECHG)
  • Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (ECHG)
  • Proximity Housing grant (PHG)
  • Family Grant (FG)
  • Step-up Grant
  • Half-Housing Grant

Luckily for Valerie's case, there were not many financial hurdles and she managed to utilise the HDB Loan Eligibility Letter (HLE) provided by HDB.

Dissecting the flat's layout

As with any purchase, it was an exciting moment for the family after a long two-year wait. 

She liked that the unit was spacious and it had unblocked views of the scenery outside. The best part? All the bedrooms are mainly in one corner of the house, which creates a sense of privacy. 

Here's a general floorplan of a 3Gen Flat that is comparable to Valerie's unit. 

Actual floorplan of a 3Gen flat in Tampines Greenverge.
PHOTO: Housing & Development Board

Upon entering the flat, you'll see a chic living room where Valerie's family can gather together. Throughout the day, there's a big window pane for natural sunlight to filter in.

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

On the left of the living area is the second ensuite master bedroom, which is usually perfect for elderly parents to reside.

However, due to privacy reasons, we'll just give you a quick look at how the entrance to the room blends with their lovely living space. 

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

The dining space is connected with the kitchen, which you can open up as she did to create a more open and expansive space.

Not to mention, there's a generous amount of space for common interaction in these pockets of space. 

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

Past the dining area, the other two junior bedrooms, the common bathroom, and the ensuite master bedroom can be found. 

Again due to privacy reasons, we'll not be showing any pictures of the bedroom, the floor plan should be illustrative enough.

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

Last but not least, here is a quick view of the kitchen and dining space.

She chose to have it open to foster more interactions among the family, and has the advantage of creating a bigger sense of space — even if it does come with the expanse of cooking smells permeating the space!

Final thoughts 

"One thing about this unit is that it encourages us to start a family, which is also the main reason for our purchase", Valerie shared. 

Even if you don't have a big family, for now, following in Valerie's footsteps is a great idea to prioritise your needs and plan for your future to create a well-thought-out and loving place to call home.

Living under one roof might be noisier than most common households, but the warmth you feel from close kinships is invaluable. 

ALSO READ: When is it worth buying a 3-gen HDB flat?

This article was first published in Stackedhomes.