10-year checks for old buildings

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 May, 2007, 12:00am

The government has finalised plans for introducing mandatory inspections on private buildings aged 30 years or more - some of which are showing signs of crumbling - in a bid to improve safety.

The new measures will be presented to lawmakers for discussion next week, a government source has revealed.

Under the scheme, buildings more than 30 years old will be required to undergo inspections every 10 years to certify they are safe.

Buildings that are four storeys or more in height and more than 10 years old will be required to have windows checked every five years.

The inspection cycle reflected the views of most people who responded to a government consultation, which had recommended an inspection every seven years, the source said.

The inspections will mainly cover external walls, structural elements, drainage, fire safety and unauthorised building works posing an imminent danger.

At present, there are 13,000 such old tenements across the city. The figure, however, is expected to rise to 22,000 in 10 years.

After examination by a qualified inspector, a report detailing the condition of the building and necessary repair works will be handed to the government and the residents.

'Every year, 2,000 old buildings will be inspected for building safety,' the source said, adding that priority would be given to older buildings in poor condition.

'The cost of the inspection will range from about HK$10,000 to HK$40,000 a building,' the source said, but the government would offer as much assistance to as possible.

'Residents in 80 per cent of these old buildings will not have to pay for the first inspection fee.'

A financial assistance fund, estimated to be HK$1 billion, will be set up by the Housing Society, which has a reserve of HK$20 billion. Residents needing to repair their buildings will also be able to borrow money from the Housing Society's HK$3 billion scheme to rehabilitate old buildings.

Those who ignore an inspection order or refuse to co-operate with inspections will face punishment. 'The maximum penalty is a HK$50,000 fine and one-year imprisonment,' the source said.