Simplified system for contractors on renovation

PUBLISHED : Friday, 31 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 31 December, 2010, 12:00am

Building owners must now look for a registered contractor to carry out renovation work that involves structural change.

The 'minor works control system' from the Buildings Department, which takes effect today, is intended to regulate the quality of small-scale renovation work on private properties.

Deputy director of buildings Lam Siu-tong said the control system would simplify a long-standing statutory procedure which property owners had often ignored.

'Under the previous legislation, owners were required to hire building professionals, say a structural engineer, to carry out all sorts of work even if it was as minor as installing a drying rack,' Lam said. 'This was a big burden in terms of money and time, and the result is that many structures were illegal.

'The new control system will provide a lawful, simple means for building owners to carry out such work.'

The system classifies 118 renovation procedures into three types according to complexity. Individual building contractors, upon registration, can only take up the simplest type, such as installation of supporting frames for air conditioners or the repair of windows. These individual contractors are not allowed to take up more complicated work such as slab opening, external work or staircase and lift installation, which can only be conducted by a contractor company, architects, surveyors, and structural or civil engineers.

Common interior renovation work that does not involve a building's structure - painting, wall-papering and alteration of non-bearing walls - is exempt, which means specialists are not needed to perform them.

Those who fail to hire a registered contractor or professional will face a maximum fine of HK$100,000. Anyone carrying out minor work who is not on the register will face a fine of HK$500,000 and 18 months in jail. A list of registered contractors has been published on the department's website.

Up to Tuesday, about 1,000 companies and 1,100 individuals had been registered. The department is processing another 3,000 applications.

Lam said that the department was preparing another set of rules for 'sub-divided flats'. These flats provide cheap accommodation in old buildings but are often plagued with problems of water seepage, overloading and fire risks.

These rules would require that a variety of work involved in setting up partitioned units be performed by registered contractors, he said.

Three types of works under the new system

Class 1

A registered contractor (individual or company) is required for common household minor works such as installing or removing frames for air conditioners, repair and removal of windows and above-ground drains.

Class 2

A registered contractor company is required for large-scale renovations including slab openings over a certain size, repair of structural walls, beams and columns, and external rendering.

Class 3

A registered contractor company or a building professional (architect, structural engineer or surveyor) is required for more complicated works in homes or commercial premises like staircases and service lifts.


Registered contractors are not required for very small-scale renovation works which do not involve building structures, such as painting, internal plastering, and altering non-load bearing walls.