29th May 2023 – (Hong Kong) MTR Corporation’s The Capitol in LOHAS Park Phase 1 has recently come under scrutiny, as a resident posted a video online showcasing their renovated unit’s design layout. However, upon closer inspection, netizens discovered that the main load-bearing wall in the unit had been removed to create a larger master bedroom, sparking concerns about building safety.
MTR Corporation responded to the issue by stating that they had not received any application for structural changes to the unit from the resident. As a result, building safety inspectors were sent to the unit to investigate, and it was found that the unit had violated building regulations. The Buildings Department will follow up on the matter in accordance with the Buildings Ordinance, and the unit owner will arrange for temporary reinforcement work to be completed within the day to ensure the safety of the building’s structure.
MTR Corporation emphasised that all renovation work must be applied for and approved by their customer service office before any work can be carried out. If the renovation includes any structural changes, the unit owner must apply to the relevant government department and obtain approval.
The Buildings Department also expressed concern over the incident and dispatched inspectors to the unit to issue a statutory order to the unit owner for violating the Buildings Ordinance, and conduct a comprehensive investigation into the matter. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, punitive action may be taken, including criminal charges. The inspectors found that the unit owner removed a 200mm thick structural wall measuring approximately 720mm in width and 2,150mm in height between the living room and bedroom to install a new door. However, after inspecting the upper and lower units, the Buildings Department determined that the overall building structure was not in danger. Furthermore, the unit owner had arranged for a temporary support to be installed under the beam of the new door.
The Buildings Department spokesperson stressed that unit owners are responsible for ensuring that their buildings are not illegally constructed and that no unauthorised building works are carried out. If a unit owner wishes to carry out any building works, they should first seek the advice of a professional building consultant to ensure the feasibility of the project. They must also obtain approval from the Buildings Department before proceeding to ensure the safety of the building and its occupants.
Dr. Su Kai Leung, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Hong Kong, expressed his views on the issue during a radio program. He explained that high-rise buildings rely on main load-bearing walls to support the weight of the building and withstand wind pressure. If these walls are removed without proper design and approval, it could have a significant impact on the building’s structure. He compared it to a table with missing legs, which would be unstable and at risk of collapsing. Dr. Su also stated that restoring a removed main wall is not an easy process, as it requires the use of high-quality concrete and the reconnection of steel bars.
This incident highlights the importance of following proper procedures when carrying out renovation work in buildings. Building safety should always be a toppriority, and any structural changes must be approved by the relevant authorities to ensure the safety of the building and its occupants. Building owners must understand their responsibility to comply with regulations and seek professional advice before carrying out any work that may affect the building’s structure.