7 Property Issues Caused By Singapore’s Rainy Weather

We’re reaching the end of January, so the rainy season isn’t as heavy as before; but let’s face it: Singapore is a wet country. In fact, between 1981 to 2010, there’s been an average of about 167 rainy days per year. Most of us are spared from serious flooding, unlike our grandparents’ day (back in the 1960’s, flooding could be a major cause of damages).

However, our properties are not 100 per cent protected from the constant wet weather. There are many underrated or overlooked effects of the rain on our property; but some of them can be fixed with preventive measures:

How can rain affect your property?

  • Seepage into the internal structure of your house
  • Damage to appliances and other home contents
  • Fungal issues
  • Choked gutters and draining issues
  • Damage to auto-gates
  • Construction delays
  • Mosquito breeding

1. Seepage into the internal structure of your house

When there are cracks or leaks (especially on the ceiling), the water can seep into the internal structure of your home. This can affect things such as:

  • Paint (you may see a “bulge” on walls or ceilings, where water pools under the paint)
  • Prolonged exposure to leaks and water can leave discoloured “streak marks” on walls or floors.
  • Appliances and lighting, including the air-conditioning, if water gets into the wiring. This is an electrical hazard that can lead to other dangerous issues, such as fires.
  • Corrosion of steel rods, or any other steel elements in the internal structure of your house (these rods cannot just be “cleaned up” once they’re corroded!)

This is one of the more insidious forms of damage, as it’s not always obvious. Sometimes, you may be unaware of a leak until years of accumulated damage. By then, it could be expensive to rectify the situation.

So do take action quickly, when you spot even small leaks or cracks – assume that the problem will get bigger, the longer you take to deal with it (as this is often true).

2. Damage to appliances and other home contents

As mentioned above, leaking can cause damage to electrical wiring. This can damage lighting fixtures and appliances. In addition, leaks will almost always damage carpeting, cabinetry, and some types of furniture (even metal tables and chairs will corrode).

If you’re really unlucky, expensive renovation work can be ruined by leaks. An example of this would be a designer walk-in wardrobe, where the cabinetry has to be hacked up and replaced due to water damage. As these are not “off-the-shelf” parts that you can buy in a store, you’ll have to pay for custom work to restore it.

It’s a good idea to get home content insurance to protect you from this (speak to your insurance agent). This will provide pay outs to cover damage to your furniture, wallpapering, or even some common items in your home like laptops.

Note that this is not the same as your mandatory fire insurance; that covers the cost of rebuilding your house, not replacing the things in it.

3. Fungal issues

We live in a tropical environment. The good news is, we’re spared from a whole host of troubles involving snow. The bad news is, we have problems like mold and fungus, which are aggravated by the humidity.

This is quite unsightly – visit old or poorly maintained properties, and you can literally see mushrooms coming out of the walls.

But beyond being ugly, mold and fungus can pose a serious threat to children, the elderly, or those with respiratory problems such as asthma. It can also be dangerous to your pets. Curious dogs and cats, for example, may sniff or lick the fungal / moldy spots.

These issues are most likely to arise during rainy seasons, such as in late December. Take especial care at such times, and be sure to keep surfaces as dry as possible. If you have a landed home with roof access, you may want to cover parts of it with a tarp or canvas sheet.

4. Choked gutters and drainage issues

With constant rain, there is a greater risk of choked gutters and drains. It’s important to ensure these are kept clear – if the water can’t flow through them, it will simply accumulate on your roof, or other spots where it’s trapped.

The water may also flow where it’s not supposed to, such as into crevices and the internal structure of your home (see point 1).

If you live in a condo, you have to trust your Management Committee to keep an eye on this – call them if you spot choked gutters. If you have your own landed property, however, it’s not too expensive  to have a company come down and clear out your gutters; about once a year should be sufficient.

5. Damage to auto-gates

A common feature along many of our driveways are auto-gates. While these are more convenient than opening gates by hand, they do have an additional risk:

Auto-gates have mechanical and electrical features, which are exposed to the elements. In particular, some of them run along a track or groove in the ground. Heavy rain tends to cause water to accumulate in the track, which can corrode to interfere with the mechanism. If your gate isn’t opening for some reason, this is a good first place to check.

Also check for debris that’s accumulated along the track – during heavy rain, leaf litter or other debris may be washed into the track by the rain.

6. Construction delays

In general, try to time your construction, additions and alterations, etc. during the dryer months. This is between May to July.

This is because heavy rain can affect aspects of construction work, such as when pouring concrete, painting your exterior, or working on the roof. Safety issues often require that certain forms of work be stopped, in the event of strong rain.

For these reasons, rain could incur some indirect costs or delays in construction. I can provide some advice on proceeding with extensive changes to your property, as I have a prior background in construction; do contact me on Facebook for help.

7. Mosquito breeding

Did you know that the government has significantly raised the penalty for mosquito breeding? It now starts from $200, and reaches up to $5,000 with imprisonment (on the third or subsequent offence).

If you are a landlord, be aware that you could be liable for this. It can lead to some otherwise unnecessary disputes with your tenants; it’s not always easy to get them to pay the fine, even if it was their fault.

But I’m quite sure the worse penalty is if mosquitoes breed, and someone in the home actually gets dengue.

Rain is, unfortunately, one of the main sources of stagnant water in our homes – be it puddled on the rooftop, or in unused flower pots. This is why I suggest turning your buckets, unused pots, etc. upside down when storing them.

It’s also a good idea to scour your rooftop or outdoor areas – including outdoor kitchens – shortly after the rain. Don’t let fines or dengue fever end up indirectly adding to your property costs.

Good maintenance is a part of good property investment

Even the best located properties will lose value, if they’re not well maintained. And in a tropical country like Singapore, that means maintaining the property in the face of humidity / heavy rain. While it can be a bit inconvenient, it’s a small price to pay to ensure a pleasant and desirable (by the market) home.

For more on smart property investments, follow me on Ron Chong Property.sg. I’ll also be looking at some key property trends for 2021 next.

 

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