Inspected buildings could be certified
Olga Wong and Paggie Leung
Certificates could be issued to old buildings that pass inspections launched since the tragedy in To Kwa Wan, to reassure owners they are safe.
Director of Buildings Au Choi-kai said the department had checked 362 buildings over the past two days, after the Development Bureau had committed to inspecting about 4,000 buildings more than 50 years old within a month.
Au said none of the buildings inspected required immediate repairs, as they were all structurally safe. But in about one in 10 cases, repair orders had been issued for better maintenance.
'Visual inspections were conducted to see if the direction of the cracks found in concrete walls would affect the building's structure,' Au said.
Permanent secretary for development Thomas Chow Tat-ming said the government would consider certifying buildings as safe to reassure people.
The maintenance subsidy scheme started last year could also be extended to cover owners of inspected buildings who had been issued with a repair order, he said.
Asked if the Housing Society had any rental flats available nearby for victims of the accident, the society's chief executive and executive director, Wong Kit-loong, said it had no more than 20 flats at Lok Man Sun Chuen and Chun Seen Mei Chuen.
He said the society would launch a voluntary building classification scheme six months before the proposed mandatory building inspection scheme begins. The voluntary programme would be for buildings at least 30 years old, he said. After maintenance work and inspections by professionals, owners could apply to the society for a building to be granted accreditation.
He said that the society assessed about 60 buildings in a recent trial run, but most owners failed to provide adequate documentation; otherwise, the pass rate could reach 90 per cent. Wong said buildings with good ratings would benefit not only from being exempted from the mandatory scheme: 'It's like a quality mark, and owners of the accredited buildings may enjoy a better mortgage rate or lower premium for insurance.'