Hong Kong flat owners face hefty repair bills, surveyors' institute says

Surveyors' institute finds that a law requiring inspection and maintenance for old buildings may impose heavy financial burdens

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 October, 2012, 3:26am

Owners of flats in blocks older than 30 years face maintenance bills of at least HK$60,000 under a scheme that requires such buildings to be inspected and repaired every 10 years.

The estimate was made by the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors, which commissioned a study on the costs owners' face under a recent law requiring compulsory building maintenance.

Vincent Ho Kui-yip, chairman of the institute's building surveying division, said: "We hope to give owners a rough idea of the cost range for quality work for the repair and upkeep of their buildings. We believe it is useful [after] the government launched the mandatory building inspection scheme in late June."

He said there had been cases where charges were so low that the quality of inspection, repairs and project supervision had been compromised.

The institute commissioned City University's department of civil and architectural engineering to research the amounts paid by owners of 185 buildings of about 30 years old that had undergone inspection and repairs between 2005 and 2010.

Taking into account inflation and other price increases it found that the cost of repairing a building 30 years or older and taller than seven storeys would be HK$44,000 to HK$54,000 a flat. Hiring a surveying firm to inspect the building could cost another HK$70,000, or about HK$2,500 for each flat in buildings with 20 to 50 apartments, according to the institute's research.

Depending on the scale of the repair project, the costs of supervision would be another HK$250,000 at least. For a typical 30-year-old building with about 50 flats, each owner could expect to pay about HK$68,000.

The surveyors' findings coincide with a programme unveiled yesterday by the Community Care Fund under which it will provide eligible owners' corporations of old blocks an allowance of up to HK$20,000 within three years to subsidise, among others, insurance fees, and fire-safety and electrical equipment inspections. The three-year scheme, to be managed by the Home Affairs Department, also aims to encourage the formation of more owners' corporations.

Initiated in the early 2000s to step up building safety, the mandatory building inspection scheme was finally passed by the legislature last year and launched on June 30 this year, covering all private buildings 30 years or older except those less than four storeys. Owners are required to hire professionals to carry out safety inspections every 10 years.

The Buildings Department aims to select 2,000 such buildings every year for inspection, in various districts.