Construction Law and Regulations in Singapore

The Singapore construction laws and regulations establish the rights and liabilities of parties in construction contracts. It also establishes the consequences accruing to those who do not adhere to the construction code.
May 28, 2021

The Singapore construction laws and regulations establish the rights and liabilities of parties in construction contracts. It also establishes the consequences accruing to those who do not adhere to the construction code. 

The code governs and establishes the types of contracts, roles and responsibilities of developers and contractors, as well as the terms and conditions of the contracts entered between participants in the industry.

The Singapore construction laws and regulations also provide for consideration of public policy by participants in the construction industry. It also requires adherence to land use laws and licensing laws.

Building and Construction Regulations in Singapore

1. Contracts

The construction laws and regulations define the nature of contracts individuals can enter in construction projects. The acts define the types of contracts which have been formed since the colonial times. It specifies that the formats for local contracts are mainly similar to those of international contracts.

For local projects, the format of contracts is mainly the Singapore Institute of Architects' Building Contract. The Building Authority in the country is responsible for updating this format. Otherwise, international contracts can also be entered using this format. 

The FIDIC forms are a common form of international projects in the government of Singapore. Those undertaking these types of contracts can use this format. The International Federation of Consulting Engineers, Joint Contracts Tribunal, and Institute of Civil Engineers publish the standard forms of contracts for international contracts.

2. Statues

The construction law and regulation breaks the statutes to the duties of the designer, developer, and the contractor. It also establishes the Workplace and Health Act which seeks to make the workplace safe for everyone. This establishes the duties of the employer and supervisor to ensure health and safety of the workplace. Those who do not follow these statutes can be punished with a 12 months' imprisonment or a fine of $20,000 Singapore Dollars.

The Workplace and Health Act provides for the employer to observe all the worker safety regulations failure to which they face an imprisonment of 2 years or a fine of up to SGD 500,000. They must follow all environmental issues in designing, planning and building.

According to this law, the contractor bears the risks of delay and additional costs on construction projects even when the factors leading to this are not foreseeable. It is assumed that the contractor will have discovered any foreseeable factors that could lead to these problems. The contractors are required to manage any risks that could lead to construction delays and additional costs.

The contractor also bears the risk of increase in material price and material shortage. However, they may ask for additional payments from employers if labor costs increase. The contractors can also negotiate for extension of time through the necessary provisions. These provisions allow the contractor to negotiate with the developer on extension of deadlines.

A party to the construction contract can be excluded from liability or have it restricted. Any party can only be exempted from a liability if the reasonableness test is positive. Liabilities are negotiated, but sometimes there are specified figures and percentages enforced in the law. The Unfair Contract Terms Act may also come into play when the issues of construction liability are non-deterministic. The law can also enforce force majeure exclusions depending on the negotiated contract terms.

Further, the main contractor should manage the sub-contractors. By default, the main contractor bears the liability when the sub-contractor defaults. The contractor and the sub-contractors are to be registered by the Building and Construction Authority and must use licensed builders and professionals. The contractors and sub-contractors must adhere to all licensing and quality inspection laws.

The use of land for construction is also guided by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and other land laws.

3. Developer

Architects are engaged by developers or project owners to administer the contract in a traditional setting. The employer will also form contracts with other experts hired for the project including surveyors.

The developer is required by law to keep and update the design-for-safety register. The law requires him to avail this design-for-safety to the contractors and designers appointed for the project. The developer should also ensure it is available for inspection whenever the inspector requires it.

4. Designer

According to the government of Singapore and its law and regulation for the construction industry, the designer prepares the structure design plan. He must act to minimize any risks. He should use proactive measures to prevent these risks and these should be collective protective not individual protective measures.

The designer is appointed by the contractor. He should be competent to do this work. The contractor is required to provide all the relevant information to the designer to allow them perform their work as provided by regulations.

5. Training

Training is to be provided to every worker participating in a construction project. This training includes safety training which helps them to stay safe from injuries. Ideally, the employer should have courses for training the workers. Workers must be tested and should pass the tests for admission into work floors. 

The law defines a competent person as one with sufficient experience and training to perform the required duties. The workers should also be familiarized with the hazards of working there and the precautions necessary to prevent injuries and damage.

The supervisor, for instance, should receive appropriate training to render them capable of performing their roles. It prohibits anyone from supervising or overseeing work they are not sure will be carried out safely. Thus it places responsibility on supervisors as well as owners.

Ensuring Safety and Order in Construction

The Singapore construction work laws and regulations legalizes and governs local and international construction contracts in Singapore. It establishes terms to be followed by developers. 

The law requires contractors to perform their duty responsibly as agreed with the developers and without negligence. Otherwise, they are to bear most of the risks for delayed deadlines and increased construction costs.

On their part, developers must provide the necessary information to allow the work to be performed effectively. The law allows for necessary negotiations between the parties in the contracts even on deadline extension issues and contract liabilities. 

The designer and contractor must ensure safety of the building and worker health and safety respectively. The regulation is very strict on worker and building health and safety and requires employers to train and use professionals in the construction work.

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