Comments on mandatory building inspection

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Comments on Mandatory Building Inspection & Related Issues The Consultation Document sets out 4 proposals:- Mandatory Building Inspection Scheme (MBIS), Mandatory Window Inspection (MWI), Voluntary Building Classification Scheme (VBCS) and Dispute Resolution Mechanisms (DRM). We should consider the 4 topics together in the larger context of improving the built environment. While each proposal addresses certain different current problems, the prime consideration should be the total cost and the resultant effects of all these proposed measures taken together with other relevant planned or impending actions. Separate consideration of each topic in isolation will likely lead to bias , with the possible result of causing more harm than good to the society as a whole. The first step in addressing the building problems is to confine the size of the problem. We must identify the root causes of the current problems and eliminate them from recurring in new buildings. Hence, current practice of design, construction, maintenance and management of buildings should be critically reviewed and improved where appropriate. From my previous involvement, it is known that the Buildings Department (BD) has carried out a series of studies addressing the overall issues of ensuring realistic high standards in safety and serviceability under present and foreseeable future conditions. BD is progressively implementing the study results through amending the Buildings Ordinance, updating the building regulations, setting or updating codes of practice and issuing or updating practice notes. Allowing say 10 to 20 years for these new measures to become fully effective in bringing about a new class of buildings that are free from the current and foreseeable problems, the size of the problems of the existing buildings is checked. As there are 39000 private buildings now, the target of MBIS or MWI is at most about 50,000 buildings at the peak of inspection requirements. On the other hand, VBCS and DRM address a different range of building issues that may be still relevant to the new class of buildings. These are the two different contexts for considering the four topics. Priority of DRM & VBCS Any building inspection assessment will inevitably involve certain subjective judgment and this subjectivity is bound to arouse conflict among the stakeholders in a mandatory inspection. Such conflicts will occur in the interpretation of grey area of
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inspection requirements, avoidance of nuisance and inconvenience caused by the inspection process, approval of cost of inspection, and interpretation of inspection results. Conflicts will also occur in seeking agreement to actions pursuant to the inspection report, approval of cost of repair or remedial works, agreement on responsibility for making good any ineffective remedial work, and apportionment of costs. Hence, before putting any mandatory schemes in force, effective dispute resolution mechanisms acceptable all parties concerned must be in place first.
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This note was uploaded on 03/26/2012 for the course CIVIL 6049 taught by Professor Can'tremember during the Spring '12 term at HKU.

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