Balcony Usage

Now, to fully understand this issue, one must understand that Gross Floor Area, or GFA, is limited by the Allowable Plot Ratio as specified in the Master Plan for that area. Simply put, a developer has a limit on the total amount of living space he can build for any particular plot.

It used to be that balconies were counted in this GFA, and thus having a balcony meant a smaller built-in space. What did that mean to a potential buyer, who had to pay for every bit of square footage? Well, let’s just say that the pragmatic side of Singaporeans kicked in. In sunny, yet wet and humid, Singapore, most of our grandparents and parents just didn’t have the time or inclination to use this outdoor area. So a balcony was a useless feature that reduced the useable living area, yet still cost money and required maintenance. No wonder it was so unattractive then!

However, the Urban Redevelopment Authority has initiated several changes, in line with the new green directive for our nation. And the most important change, at least for this article? Balcony GFA can exceed the Master Plan by up to 10%. In other words, under certain circumstances, that extra balcony space is a bonus for developers trying to maximise their returns. This encourages developers to reconsider their stance against balconies.

But that isn’t the only thing that could lead to a balcony come-back. Lifestyle changes play a big part in the resurging attraction of these cosy outdoor areas in the sky. Firstly, many households now utilise maids or some sort of cleaning service. Maintenance and cleanliness of the outdoor area has less impact on our daily schedules.

Balcony Living

Enjoy the morning breeze, or evening sunset from here

Secondly, the healthy, outdoor lifestyle is being encouraged these days, and many citizens are responding enthusiastically. A new appreciation for the wonders of nature means that the Al Fresco experience is very much sought after. I personally know several people who have set up barbecue and dining areas, complete with weather-proof furniture and outdoor kitchen, right on their balcony. And they use it at least once a week.

So, if you’ve ever thought about having a garden in the sky, don’t let the common opinion deter you. A balcony might just be the thing for breezy evenings or invigorating mornings, for outdoor exercise or al fresco dining, for appreciating mooncakes and tea or cheese and wine.

Just be aware of a few caveats. Remember how balconies don’t have to count against GFA any more? Undoubtedly, building a balcony does have a cost. But this cost should be a fraction of the main living area PSF. As a savvy buyer, ask for a breakdown of the PSF, and make sure you aren’t paying full PSF price for that outdoor area!

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