The number's up for developers who skip floors

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 April, 2010, 12:00am

A new guideline will restrict property developers to skipping unlucky floor numbers '4', '13' and those ending in '4'.

This comes after the public outcry at a Henderson Land marketing gimmick to omit 48 floor numbers at its 39 Conduit Road luxury residential project. The top two floors of the 46-storey block were marked as the 68th and 88th floors - lucky numbers in Chinese numerology.

The revised guidelines will apply to projects for which an application for occupation permit is submitted from September 1. The Buildings Department's new revised practice note was approved by the building sub-committee of the Land and Development Advisory Committee yesterday.

A spokesman for the department said the revision was the result of a consensus reached after a series of discussions among stakeholders and struck 'a balance between the concern arising from the omission of floor numbers and the long-established local practice and customs in floor numbering for buildings'.

He said omitting floor numbers '4', '13' and those ending with '4' was allowed because this practice had been widely adopted.

Other omissions of floor numbers will not be allowed. All floors of a building should be assigned with numbers in a logical and consecutive numerical series.

The guideline also rules out the use of words instead of numbers to indicated a floor - such as 'Sky Garden' - aliases and illogical numbers.

And alternative floor numbers, for example, in the form of 'also known as x/F', will not be accepted.

The government said omitting floor numbers might confuse emergency services.

'Property owners, prospective buyers, visitors to buildings and utility service providers may also find it confusing and inconvenient if the floor numbers of a building do not follow a general sense of logic which can be easily understood,' it said.

Dr Lawrence Poon Wing-cheung, of the Institute of Surveyors' general practice division, said he supported the new rules.

'It will no longer cause confusion,' Poon said. 'Indeed it would be best if floor numbers ending with '4' were forbidden as well. But it is still acceptable since many buildings in the city have already excluded those numbers.'

Henderson said it would follow the new requirements. Its sales department general manager, Thomas Lam Tat-man, said quality was the most important factor for buyers. Although some people would select a flat with a lucky floor number, he said the new rules would not affect sales.

The Real Estate Developers Association was not available for comment yesterday.

The practice note is not binding. It is a guideline for practitioners, such as registered structural and geotechnical engineers, who are employed by developers to help prepare building plans and submit applications for approval.

Such practice notes in the past have been widely adopted.

Developers will be required to indicate the numbering of each floor 'clearly and unequivocally' in the building plans they submit to the department for approval. The department will advise the applicant to make appropriate amendments to the plans if they fail to meet the requirement.

The floor numbering issue raised public concern in October when Henderson sold a duplex on the 43rd and 44th floors, which were together labelled the 68th floor, for a world-record HK$88,000 per square foot of saleable area.

It is understood that Sun Hung Kai Properties dispensed with 19 floors in its Cullinan residential development at Kowloon Station, and that Sino Land skipped as many as 23 floors in one tower of its Fo Tan residential project, Palazzo.

Amid pressure from the public and the government, the REDA in November agreed to require its members to set out the floor numbering information clearly in the front of sales brochures.

High stakes

Henderson Land's 39 Conduit Road is 46 storeys high

It sold a duplex on the 43rd and 44th floors that was touted as being on floor: 68