PARLIAMENT: Debate on ministries’ budgets

Regular checks on facades of older buildings soon

NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT MINISTER LAWRENCE WONG
NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT MINISTER LAWRENCE WONG

Regular checks on the facade of older buildings will soon be introduced, with legislative changes due to take place by year end.

The rules will apply to buildings that are more than 20 years old, and higher than 13m - about the height of three storeys. Under the proposed new rules, inspections will take place every seven years. There are now no requirements for building owners to inspect facades.

"Building owners will be given about one year's lead time to prepare before the requirement comes into effect," Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said in Parliament yesterday.

ADDRESSING DELAYS

Young couples like them may find themselves delaying their flat application for one to two years, and then waiting another four years for the flat to be ready. I think that's a bit too long a wait.

NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT MINISTER LAWRENCE WONG, on university student Gerald Sim and recent graduate Stefanie Mok who chose to settle down early but had to delay their application for a Build-to-Order flat due to a lack of income history. A deferred income assessment will help them shave at least a year off the process.

Mr Chong Kee Hiong (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) brought up recent incidents when cladding fell off buildings, and said that while there are now periodic structural inspections, these do not cover non-structural parts like exterior features.

Industry players welcomed the changes but raised concerns about younger buildings not requiring inspection. Engineering consultancy Arup Singapore's principal facade engineering leader Michael Chin said the move has been a "long time coming". Such inspections, he said, could help prevent serious incidents, such as parts of a facade falling off. But he said newer buildings under 20 years old can also be at risk.

"Some of these may have inherent defects at completion," said Mr Chin.

The Building and Construction Authority and Housing Board have called for proposals to develop a drone inspection system to inspect building facades.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2018, with the headline 'Regular checks on facades of older buildings soon'. Print Edition | Subscribe