Nowadays we see a lot of hype in green landscaping among condos. Kudos to the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) whom promoted sustainable development with the green mark schemes and incentives. Our air is fresher and the economics made great sense for developers.

Yet some condo owners are not cheering. On closer examination, the green maintenance costs are surprising. I have heard much woes from friends in different MCSTs. Take a look at this excerpt from The Straits Times, which sums its up.

“Maintaining such extensive greenery, however, requires effort and money. At Leedon Residence, five full-time gardeners tend to the green spaces, which take up more than half of its total land area of 48,000 sqm… Another team of gardeners comes in about once a week to perform more major works such as pruning. The cost is typically passed down to residents, who pay a higher conservancy/maintenance fee. According to industry sources, the maintenance fee of each unit of such green luxury developments can hit $800 or more a month. Such fees typically hover around $300 a month for projects that are less green.” Straits Times 13 May 2017
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Every $100 increase over a typical $300 maintenance is significant. First we like to benchmark this $100 “green maintenance” and test if it is sufficient. Considering a 381 units development like Leedon Residence, that equates to $38,100 or $1.59 per sqm of greenery (24,000 sqm). Next let’s breakdown the specifics and evaluate the costs.

Assume each full-time gardener is paid $1,800, amounting to $9,000 monthly for their wages. Not including, the second team who works 4 days a month ($2000?).

Add the cost of Compost, fertilizer, water and other miscellaneous that may cost an additional $7,000. That is a total of $18,000 or $47.24 per unit or $0.75 per sqm of greenery. Given that the cost is almost half of the benchmark, it seems fairly reasonable to keep between $50-$100 monthly “green maintenance”.

Anything more fanciful that requires a sophisticated sprinkling system, or plant-specific care should be dropped for our local hardy species. Ixora, Bougainvillea, Pothos, Sanseiveria and Syzygium myrtifolium are examples of zero maintenance plants. “You don’t even need to water them,” says my horticulture friend. NEA has an extensive experience in managing our landscape and they posted a page to share their knowledge on sustainable plants.

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Furthermore, do you know many Singaporeans living in semi-detached houses spend as little as $30-$50 to engage a grass cutter for their lawn monthly? Thus on green maintenance that goes beyond $100 monthly, I have this to say …

“No finite amount of resources or time can sustain something out of its natural, for long.” Condo Chairman

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Related posts: “Condo maintenance pitfalls?”

One thought on “How much for your green?

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