Door shut on safety check at The Icon

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 February, 2011, 12:00am

Building officers were yesterday refused entry to the controversial Mid-Levels project The Icon to investigate claims that tiles on the external walls of the residential tower were in danger of falling off.

The officers wanted to get to the roof of the 17-storey building at 38 Conduit Road to follow up on a report by a building inspection company that said it discovered 'unusual findings' in a test last week.

A spokeswoman for the Buildings Department said: 'Our officers could only make inspections from the outside. The property management did not let us in. We will consider whether there is a need to further investigate the case and make a formal application to get into the block.'

Last month, The Icon was at the centre of another storm for delivering what owners termed as 'rubbish dump flats'.

Yesterday's action followed a report by Hong Kong Building Inspection & Structural Diagnostic Ltd, which said it found defects with an infrared scan on one of the tower's external walls.

Lai Tat-ming, the company's technical consultant, said the scan found signs of suspected debonding of tiles on the walls on a number of floors and near the roof of the tower.

Spots appeared in the scan, meaning temperatures beneath the tiles were higher than the surrounding ones, which could be caused by bubbles in the paste that sticks the tiles to the wall.

'We feel this is very unusual for a new building. We disclosed the results for the sake of public safety because it could pose a danger to pedestrians if the tiles peel off,' Lai said, adding that the test was a case study and the company was not acting for the developer or any agent.

There was no comment from the building's developer, Winfoong International, yesterday.

Vincent Ho Kui-yip, a spokesman for the Institute of Surveyors, agreed the findings were 'strange' for a new building.

Raymond Chan Yuk-ming, a building surveyor also with the institute, said the infrared scan was only a preliminary tool and was not always reliable. 'It has to be done at the right time and in the right weather. It is best done in late afternoon after hours of sunshine. It is no use on a cloudy day,' he said.

The Icon made the headlines last month when several buyers, on taking possession of their flats from the developer, complained about unfinished flooring, tiny enclosed kitchens and heaps of construction debris.

They said the developer had promised an open kitchen in the promotional leaflet, but such kitchens require a special application to the Buildings Department.

The dispute was settled this month after 22 of 26 buyers accepted a buy-back offer while three others received HK$600,000 cash as compensation.