Six charged by Building Department in unauthorised load-bearing wall removal at Lohas Park

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24th May 2024 – (Hong Kong) The Building Department of Hong Kong has concluded its investigation into the unauthorised demolition of a load-bearing wall in a Lohas Park apartment, Tseung Kwan O. The incident, which came to light last year, involved the conversion of part of the wall into a doorway for the master bedroom. Despite assessments deeming the building structurally safe, the alteration did not comply with standard regulations, prompting immediate restoration demands.

Following an extensive review and consultations with the Department of Justice, the Building Department has issued a total of six charges under the Buildings Ordinance against the unit’s owner, the contractor involved, and the interior designer. The charges are based on Sections 40(1AA) and 40(2B)(b) of the ordinance, with a court hearing scheduled for February 2025 at the Kwun Tong Magistrates’ Courts.

Under the current regulations, any modification or construction not pre-approved by the Building Department or not adhering to the simplified procedures of the Minor Works Control System constitutes an unauthorised building work. Violations of Section 14(1) of the Buildings Ordinance—that is, undertaking building works without prior approval—can lead to a fine of HK$400,000 and two years’ imprisonment, with an additional daily fine of HK$20,000 for ongoing offences.

Moreover, Section 40(2B)(b) stipulates that any individual directly involved in building works that could potentially endanger lives or property is liable to a fine of HK$1,000,000 and three years in prison.

Earlier, Clarice Yu Po-mei, Director of Buildings, commented on the complexity of the restoration, noting that while the structural integrity of the building remains intact—the removed section was not near the wall’s edge—the original structural conditions could never be fully restored. “Repairs can align with legal standards, but we cannot assert that they will revert exactly to the original state,” she stated.

The apartment owner has been instructed to make necessary repairs, including the reconnection of steel bars, with a structural engineer already appointed to assess and report on the renovation’s impact. The Building Department is accelerating the approval process for the repair plans, ensuring they meet legal standards.