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What are Building Works

Below are the different types of building works under the control of the BD:

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During the course of demolition, site safety and public safety should be assured
After an occupation permit is issued, the building can be occupied. Please remember to carry out regular maintenance for the building.
Building professionals should be always consulted before carrying out any alteration and addition works
Carry out minor works lawfully through simplified requirements.
Exempted building works shall not contravene the building safety and health standards.
Carrying out unauthorised building works is a serious crime, offenders will be prosecuted.

Any person who intends to carry out demolition works is required to appoint building professionals to coordinate. The building professionals should conduct detailed appraisal of the building to be demolished and its surrounding environment in order to formulate an appropriate demolition proposal and prepare demolition plan for submission to the Buildings Department for approval.

Before carrying out any building demolition, the building professionals should design appropriate temporary safety precautionary measures to maintain the stability of the building under demolition. The Registered Specialist Contractor (Demolition) appointed to carry out the demolition works should follow the supervision plans prepared under the BO. He should provide continuous supervision to the demolition works to make sure that the works are carried out safely and the site personnel are protected. In addition, hoarding or covered walkways should be provided around the site boundaries to protect the public during the course of demolition.

Any person who intends to carry out building works is required by law to appoint an authorized person as the project coordinator and, where necessary, a registered structural engineer for the structural elements. If the building works at any stage involve geotechnical elements, a registered geotechnical engineer should similarly be appointed. These building professionals will prepare and submit plans for the approval of the Buildings Department (BD) under the Buildings Ordinance (BO). The person shall also appoint a registered contractor to carry out the building works.

Upon the receipt of the plans, the BD will check them for compliance with the law and refer them to other relevant Government departments for examination in their areas of concern. This centralised processing system ensures that all statutory standards, safety and other requirements under the law are met.

Written consent to commence building works is required from the BD before the registered contractor commences works. Building professionals and registered contractors have statutory duties for co-ordinating, supervising and carrying out building works and submitting stability certificates and test reports. Staff of the BD will monitor sites with works in progress and inspect sites regularly, particularly at critical stages, for compliance with statutory requirements. When breach of statutory provisions is identified, the BD may order works to cease or to be remedied. Offenders are also liable to prosecution or disciplinary proceedings. Upon the receipt of the certificate of completion of building works resulting in a new building, the BD will make final checks on building works based on the approved plans and carry out audit checks on relevant supporting documents. If the building complies with the requirements under the BO, the BD will issue an occupation permit accordingly.

Any person who intends to carry out alteration or addition works (except if they are exempted building works or minor works) in existing premises is required to appoint an authorized person, and where necessary a registered structural engineer, to prepare and submit plans for the approval of the Buildings Department (BD) under the Buildings Ordinance. He is also required to appoint a registered contractor to carry out the building works.

Examples of alteration and addition works to existing building are:

  • #constructing a new extension block to an existing building;
  • #constructing additional floors or cocklofts to an existing building;
  • #constructing a swimming pool;
  • #constructing a glass house on the flat roof, roof top, light well or open yard of a building;
  • #removing approved facilities for persons with a disability;
  • *linking two or more floors by removal of parts of the floor slab and/or adding internal staircases;
  • *combining two or more units into one by removing the partition walls;
  • *installing windows or curtain wall to the façade of an existing building;
  • *subdividing a unit into smaller units; or
  • *adding glass reinforced polyester water tanks, canopies, supporting frames for air-conditioning or other plant and signboards etc.

Owners should note that having the ownership of or rights of access to adjacent flat roofs, canopies, roof tops, yards, light wells or open space at ground level does not automatically entitle one to erect structures on them. Reference should be made to the Deed of Mutual Covenant, approved building plans, building regulations, lease conditions and, if in doubt, building professionals should always be consulted.

For those works marked with * if they are designated minor works items, they may be carried out under the simplified requirements of the Minor Works Control System. Please refer to the webpage “Care for Building Safety – Minor Works Control System” for details.

For those works marked with #, prior approval and consent are required to be obtained from the BD before commencing the building works. These works cannot be carried out by a registered minor works contractor.

The Buildings Ordinance (BO) was amended in June 2008 to introduce the Minor Works Control System (MWCS), facilitating members of the public to carry out minor works in private buildings lawfully through simple statutory procedures. The MWCS has been fully implemented since 31 December 2010.

A total of 126 items of building works have been included as minor works subject to the control under the MWCS. The size, location and respective criteria of each item of minor works are set out in the Building (Minor Works) Regulations. These minor works are classified into three classes according to their scale, complexity and risk to safety:

  • Class I (total 44 items) includes mainly those relatively more complicated minor works
  • Class II (total 40 items) comprises those of comparatively lower complexity and risk to safety
  • Class III (total 42 items) mainly includes common household minor works

Under the MWCS, erection of drying racks on the external walls of household premises, erection of supporting structures for air-conditioners, water cooling towers and associated air ducts, or removal of architectural projections etc are designated as minor works.

In order not to violate the law, any person intending to carry out minor works should appoint a prescribed building professional (PBP) and / or a prescribed registered contractor (PRC) to do so. Please refer to “Care for Building Safety – Minor Works Control System

The MWCS also introduced 15 items of “Designated Exempted Works", the complexity and risk to safety of which are lower than that of the minor works. In accordance with the BO, the "Designated Exempted Works" may be commenced without the prior approval of plans and written consent for commencement of works from the Buildings Department, and without the need to appoint PBP and / or PRC for carrying out the works.

Under section 41(3) of the Buildings Ordinance (BO), other than drainage works, ground investigation in the scheduled areas, site formation works or minor works, building works not involving the structure of the building may be carried out in any building without obtaining prior approval and consent from the Buildings Department, and the appointment of building professionals and registered contractors.

Such exemption also applies to designated exempted works, under section 41(3B) of the BO, and drainage works(other than minor works) complying with the criteria under section 41 (3C) of the BO.

Examples of exempted building works are:

  • Erection of metal gate at entrance of individual unit not obstructing the means of escape; or
  • Alteration or addition of lightweight board partition wall

All exempted building works should be carried out in compliance with the safety and health standards under the Building Regulations, such as the fire safety standards.

In general, unauthorised building works (UBW) are:

  • Building works outside a building and additions and alterations inside a building involving the structure of the building, carried out without the prior approval and consent of the Buildings Department (BD); or
  • Small-scale building works that are designated as minor works carried out without complying with the simplified requirements of the Minor Works Control System (MWCS) under the Buildings Ordinance (BO); or
  • Addition and alteration works carried out inside a building not involving the structure of the building but do not comply with the building standards laid down for building works in the Building Regulations.

Any building works, such as construction, repair, demolition or alteration works, except exempted building works, should only be carried out after obtaining the approval and consent of the BD or in compliance with the simplified requirements under the MWCS. Otherwise, such building works are UBW. Examples of commonly found UBW include metal cages, supporting frames for air-conditioners or cooling towers, canopies, flat roof structures, roof top structures, subdivision of flats, structural alterations, drainage connections that do not comply with the relevant regulations. Payment of property taxes or rates does not make an illegal structure legal.

If you wish to inspect approved plans or records of completed minor works of your property, please visit "Information Centre - BRAVO".

The BD has revised its enforcement policy in April 2011, to broaden the scope actionable UBW for priority enforcement.

For details regarding the removal of UBW, please visit "Owners' Handbook - Handling Removal Orders".