|Other features that take up space
Once a fad, bay windows and planter boxes have disappeared from condominiums of late. "Nowadays, shoebox flats are packed wall-to-wall to maximise the internal space," said analyst Chris Koh of property firm Chris International.
Bay windows and planter boxes used to be exempt from gross floor area calculations - an incentive by Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to encourage developers to include such features. But buyers had to pay developers for the space as it came with the unit.
It was thought that bay windows would make for interesting elements, while planter boxes were introduced to provide greenery and visual relief to high-rise condos.
But in July 2008, the URA reversed the exemption, saying it had led to "unintended and undesirable consequences" and "negated the objective of the (gross floor area) exemptions for these building features".
For instance, the floor plan of one unit at Suites@guillemard showed that about 15 per cent of a 24 sq m apartment was taken up by these features.
Whether such an exemption will be removed for air-con ledges remains to be seen.
Mr Koh said: "One way to get around the abuse is to create an acceptable range of sizes for such ledges, depending on the unit's floor area."
Architectural technical manager Tien Geok Beng, 53, who leads the
group, acknowledges he cannot be compensated financially.
He said: "What I hope... is for home buyers to be wary of paying unnecessarily for an oversized and useless air-con ledge. I also want the authorities to close the loophole. If there is no use for such a space, you should not allow developers to design a huge space at the expense of buyers."
A meeting with local developer EL Development last September ended with it saying it was not obliged to make any changes.
"The size and extent of the air-con ledge were given and acknowledged by purchasers before the option to purchase was issued," a spokesman told The Straits Times, adding that the ledges were designed to be big enough to fit all compressor units and to give electricians enough space to work on.
The URA told The Straits Times it does not have a guideline for ledges as it already considers "a myriad of factors in assessing whether air-con ledges are reasonably sized".
Since May 2012, developers have also been required to provide a drawn-to-scale floor plan of the unit and a detailed breakdown of the unit's various spaces.
Both the Real Estate Developers' Association of Singapore and the Singapore Institute of Architects said they do not set guidelines on air-con ledge designs.
But Mr Ku argues ledges should be re-classified as non-strata areas: "Fewer buyers would feel 'cheated' if they were not charged for it."