31st May 2023 – (Hong Kong) The removal of load-bearing walls in a unit at the Capitol, Lohas Park in Tseung Kwan O has raised concerns over building safety. The Director of Buildings, Clarice Yu, emphasised that even if the owner completes the repair work, the structural wall cannot be restored to its original state. However, she reiterated that the building structure is not immediately at risk and urged residents not to be overly concerned.
During a radio program today, Yu stated that the preliminary assessment of the Capitol of Lohas Park revealed that a unit had illegally removed part of a load-bearing wall. While the overall building structure is not immediately at risk, it does not mean that there will be no long-term impact. Even if the repairs meet legal standards, it may not be possible to fully restore the original state of the structure. Therefore, the Buildings Department has issued an order requiring the owner to hire a registered structural engineer to conduct an overall impact assessment. Yu explained that there are different methods for repairs, but it depends on the engineer’s choice and that the ultimate goal is to repair the damaged parts while considering factors such as location, connection of steel bars, and materials used.
Yu also pointed out that load-bearing walls in units are not necessarily forbidden from being removed. If the unit is located on the top floor of the building or has a small area, the problem may be relatively easy to solve.However, she emphasised that a registered structural engineer must be hired before any changes are made, and plans must be submitted to the Buildings Department for approval. When asked how owners should handle the situation if they discover that a load-bearing wall has been removed, Yu advised them to seek professional help immediately and submit repair plans. As for whether they will be charged after submitting the plans, she stated that it depends on the situation and evidence.
Yu continued to state that the Buildings Department has requested the owner to complete the repair work within 30 days. If there are practical difficulties, the department will handle the situation reasonably. The department will also investigate and collect evidence to determine if any parties have violated the Building Ordinance.