On-site Inspection Unnecessary

First published: 14th November 2007

I am sure that Ben Chong, chief buildings surveyor, Buildings Department (Letters, Nov 14) is aware that German is not an official language in Hong Kong, and is also aware that "The Blitz" in English is used to refer to the destruction of homes by aerial bombardment. What message was his department trying to send to Hong Kong when it named its large-scale clearance operation the "Blitz on Unauthorised Construction"?

The procedure followed also leaves a lot to be desired. Apparently, the Department selects buildings, "with extensive unauthorised works" - how does the Department know they have unauthorised works before they have been inspected? The Department then dispatches consultants to perform a survey. However, in the cases I know about, the consultants did not consider it necessary to enter the property to perform the survey. How do they do it, clairvoyance? The Department then issues enforcement notices, advising owners to engage building professionals from a list provided by them. However, if the Department is presented with a letter from a professional they have Authorised, stating that the building works are non-structural and therefore not subject to the Department's approval, they will blindly insist that their contractor is correct. What is the point of the Department authorising professionals for the public to consult if they do not accept the findings of those professionals?

We all want safe buildings, and we would like the freedom to make minor modifications to our homes without excessive bureaucracy. Can the Buildings Department strive to be more transparent, and define building regulations that are less likely to result in differences of opinion between professionals?

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