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Building Safety for Village Houses

New Territories Exempted Houses

New Territories Exempted Houses (NTEH) generally refer to those village houses situated in the New Territories which by virtue of the Buildings Ordinance (Application to the New Territories) Ordinance are exempted from certain provisions of the Buildings Ordinance (BO) and its subsidiary regulations (including the need for obtaining approval and consent to the commencement of works from the Buildings Department). They include the village houses built by indigenous villagers under the New Territories Small House Policy, commonly known as "small houses". For details of the exemption criteria for different types of NTEH, please refer to the provisions of the relevant Ordinance or the pamphlet "Building New Territories Exempted Houses" published by the Lands Department.

NTEH are in general designed and built in compliance with the exemption criteria in respect of the height and roofed-over area, etc stipulated in the Buildings Ordinance (Application to the New Territories) Ordinance, which thus qualify them for exemption. For example, new housing should be of not more than 3 storeys and of a height of not more than 8.23 m (about 27 feet) and with a roofed-over area not exceeding 65.03 m2 (about 700 square feet). Any additions, alterations or minor works which result in the stipulated height, roofed-over area etc of these houses being exceeded would invalidate the exemption. This would not only render the addition, alteration or minor works as unauthorized building works (UBWs) but would also turn the NTEH concerned into unauthorized buildings. However, any buildings built in the New Territories before the Buildings Ordinance (Application to the New Territories) Ordinance came into force on 1 January 1961, irrespective of whether they complied with the exemption criteria, would not come within the above definition of UBWs, so long as there had been no alteration, addition to or re-construction of the building after that date.

Arrangement of enforcement against UBWs in NTEH

  1. UBWs constituting obvious hazard or imminent danger to life or property, UBWs under construction or newly completed

    The Buildings Department (BD) will maintain its existing practice and take immediate enforcement action against UBWs constituting obvious hazard or imminent danger to life or property, UBWs under construction or newly erected. [Note: UBWs completed after 28 June 2011 are regarded as newly erected UBWs.] The Building Authority (BA) will serve a statutory order requiring the building owner to remove the UBWs concerned within a specified time. If the UBWs have not been removed by the specified time, the BA may take prosecution action against the concerned building owner. The BA may also deploy the government contractor to carry out the works, and thereafter recover the cost of the works plus supervision charge and a surcharge from the building owner.

  2. Existing UBWs not posing imminent danger but constituting serious contravention of the law and imposing higher potential risks

    For other existing UBWs not posing imminent danger, the BD will first focus and take proactive enforcement actions against those which constitute serious contravention of the law and pose higher potential risks to building safety. This first round of targets for such enforcement action mainly include village houses of four storeys or more, houses built without a Certificate of Exemption issued by the Lands Department or the approval and consent of the BA, enclosed rooftop structures covering more than 50% of the roofed-over area of the building concerned and unauthorized projecting structures attached to UBWs, etc.

    First Round Targets : Existing UBWs constituting serious contravention of the law and imposing higher potential risks
      Item
    Village house of four storeys or above constructed of reinforced concrete or masonry. Village house of four storeys or above constructed of reinforced concrete or masonry.
    Structures of single storey or above constructed of reinforced concrete, masonry or other materials on 3-storey New Territories exempted house. Structures of single storey or above constructed of reinforced concrete, masonry or other materials on 3-storey New Territories exempted house.
    Redevelopment, alteration or addition carried out on private building Redevelopment, alteration or addition carried out on private building lot of which the lease stipulates no restriction on building height and number of storeys, and in contravention of the exemption criteria prescribed in the Buildings Ordinance (Application to the New Territories) Ordinance since 1 January 1961. No approval has been obtained in accordance with the Buildings Ordinance for the aforesaid construction works. With the exception of the unauthorized building works prioritised for deferred enforcement.
    Height or roofed-over area of the main building Height or roofed-over area of the main building exceeds the exemption criteria prescribed in the Buildings Ordinance (Application to the New Territories) Ordinance. No approval has been obtained in accordance with the Buildings Ordinance for erection of the building.
    Enclosed rooftop structures constructed of reinforced concrete, masonry or other materials Enclosed rooftop structures constructed of reinforced concrete, masonry or other materials, with a coverage of more than 50% of the roofed-over area of the main building.
    Buildings not issued with certificate of exemption Buildings not issued with certificate of exemption in accordance with the Buildings Ordinance (Application to the New Territories) Ordinance prior to the commencement of works, and the Lands Department will not issue a certifcate of exemption. No approval has been obtained in accordance with the Buildings Ordinance for the works.
    Unauthorized projecting structures attached to unauthorized building works. (e.g. signboard erected on unauthorized rooftop structures). Unauthorized projecting structures attached to unauthorized building works. (e.g. signboard erected on unauthorized rooftop structures).
  3. Existing UBWs constituting less serious contravention of the law and imposing lower potential risks

    The BD will tackle these UBWs in phases after dealing with the first round targets. As these UBWs come in many different forms and size, the BD introduced a reporting scheme to collect more detailed information on them. The BD will categorise the UBWs, conduct objective risk assessment for the different classes and formulate progressive enforcement plans. The reporting period for the reporting scheme ended on 31 December 2012. The BD is now processing the information of the UBWs given in the reporting forms.

    Existing UBWs constituting less serious contravention of the law and imposing lower potential risks (Examples)
      Item
    Enclosed balcony constructed of steel or aluminium structural elements, metal plates or glass. Enclosed balcony constructed of steel or aluminium structural elements, metal plates or glass.
    Enclosed rooftop structures constructed of reinforced concrete, masonry or other materials Enclosed rooftop structures constructed of reinforced concrete, masonry or other materials, with a coverage of not more than 50% of the roofed-over area of the main building.
    Unenclosed rooftop structures constructed of steel or aluminium structural elements. Unenclosed rooftop structures constructed of steel or aluminium structural elements.
    Ground floor extension constructed of reinforced concrete, masonry or other materials Ground floor extension constructed of reinforced concrete, masonry or other materials, whether or not the extension has internal access to the main building.
    Partition wall exceeding 150mm in thickness Partition wall exceeding 150mm in thickness erected between the balconies of two adjoining New Territories Exempted Houses.
    Canopy projecting from the external wall of the main building Canopy projecting from the external wall of the main building, except the green and amenity facilities allowed to be provided.
    Ground floor canopy with pillars. Ground floor canopy with pillars.
    Metal supporting rack for air-conditioning unit Metal supporting rack for air-conditioning unit (with anti-dripping design) and lightweight air-conditioner hood projecting from the external wall of the main building, except the green and amenity facilities allowed to be provided.
    Signboard projecting from the external wall of the main building. Signboard projecting from the external wall of the main building.
    Wall signboard mounted on the external wall of the main building Wall signboard mounted on the external wall of the main building, except the green and amenity facilities allowed to be provided.
    Signboard erected on the rooftop. Signboard erected on the rooftop.

Reporting Scheme for UBWs (The reporting period for the reporting scheme ended on 31 December 2012.)

The "Reporting Scheme for UBWs in NTEHs" (the "Reporting Scheme") is introduced with a view to curbing the emergence of new UBWs and to safeguard the structural safety of NT village houses. Owners of NT village houses with UBWs eligible to join the Reporting Scheme may report such UBWs to the BD within the specified period of 1 April to 31 December 2012, and appoint qualified personnel to conduct inspections and verify the safety of the UBWs in accordance with the requirements described in the Guidelines on the "Reporting Scheme". For details, please refer to the following Guidelines:

Green and Amenity Facilities that may be installed in both New and Existing NTEH

Some specified green and amenity facilities, whether they currently exist in the village houses or to be installed in new and existing village houses in future, can be allowed to stay or be installed at any time in future without seeking the permission from the Lands Department or the BD, provided that the village house is a NTEH exempted under the Buildings Ordinance (Application to the New Territories) Ordinance. The green and amenity facilities listed below may be installed in NTEH, please also refer to the pamphlet "Building New Territories Exempted Houses" published by the Lands Department.

Green and amenity facilities that may be installed in both new and existing NTEH*
  Item
Metal supporting rack for air-conditioning unit Metal supporting rack for air-conditioning unit (with anti-dripping design), components of split type air-conditioner and lightweight air-conditioner hood
  • should not project more than 750mm from the external wall; and
  • should not project from a balcony or canopy.
Roller shutter / folding gate installed on the ground floor for security purpose Roller shutter / folding gate installed on the ground floor for security purpose
  • no part of the installation should project more than 300mm from the external wall; and
  • a trapdoor not less than 600mm in width should be provided on the roller shutter for emergency escape purpose.
Cage like external metal window grilles Cage like external metal window grilles
  • should not project more than 500mm from the external wall; and
  • where any part of the external window grilles projects over accessible pavement and has a clear headroom less than 2.5m, such part of the window grilles should not project more than 150mm from the external wall.
Retractable plastic or canvas hood Retractable plastic or canvas hood
  • affixed to any external wall;
  • with a projection of not more than 500mm when retracted;
  • with a projection of not more than 2m when fully projected;
  • clear headroom should not be less than 2.5m measured from the ground; and
  • should not project from a balcony or canopy.
Small overhang located above the side door on the ground door Small overhang located above the side door on the ground door
  • constructed of steel or aluminium structural elements, metal plates or glass;
  • clear headroom of not less than 2.5m measured from the ground; and
  • should not project more than 750mm from the external wall.
Canopy Canopy
  • constructed of steel or aluminium structural elements, metal plates or glass;
  • should not project more than 750mm from the external wall; and
  • should not project from a balcony or canopy.
Small size antenna, television dish antenna, solar energy heater or solar energy equipment Small size antenna, television dish antenna, solar energy heater or solar energy equipment
  • installed on the roof for use of the occupants of a NTEH;
  • household-scale solar water heating system of nominal size comprising one or more solar collector(s) and a water tank;
  • total gross weight should not exceed 700kg;
  • average loading imposed should not exceed 150kg/m2; and
  • such facilities should not be installed on the roof of stairhood or canopy.
Open and uncovered rooftop gardening trellis Open and uncovered rooftop gardening trellis
  • easily demountable;
  • made of timber, aluminium or other lightweight metal framework;
  • spacing between horizontal supports or intermediate bars should not be less than 200mm;
  • total coverage of not more than 5m2; and
  • height not exceeding 2.5m measured from the roof level
Signboard of ground floor shop Signboard of ground floor shop
  • total display area including supporting frame should not be more than 5m2;
  • mounted to the external wall or installed as bulkhead at shopfront with a projection not exceeding 600mm; and
  • clear headroom of not less than 2.5m measured from the ground.
Exhaust duct of food premises/restaurants Exhaust duct of food premises/restaurants
  • lightweight and part of mechanical installation; and
  • conforming to the relevant licensing requirements, for example, exhaust duct should have a projection of not more than 600mm from the external wall and a minimum clearance of 2.5m measured from the ground.
Partition wall erected between the balconies of two adjoining NTEH Partition wall erected between the balconies of two adjoining NTEH
  • not exceeding 150mm in thickness; and
  • the balconies are of beam-and-slab type construction conforming to the ‘Technical Requirements for Critical Structural Elements in the Construction of New Territories Exempted Houses’.
Unenclosed Rooftop awning Unenclosed Rooftop awning
  • easily and readily demountable or retractable;
  • not permanently fixed to the roof;
  • made of aluminium or other lightweight metal framework and plastic or canvas cover sheeting;
  • coverage of not more than 5m2 when fully opened; and
  • height not exceeding 2.5m measured from the roof level.
Amenity facilities mounted on or affixed to the external wall Amenity facilities mounted on or affixed to the external wall, such as shrine shelters, lamp posts and lighting installations (including those installed on the rooftops, parapets, and overhangs), that are small-scale and do not cause obstruction.
Electricity meter box (on ground floor only) Electricity meter box (on ground floor only)
  • affixed to the external wall;
  • made of concrete or metal;
  • size not exceeding 1.2m x 1.6m; and
  • with a projection not exceeding 0.38m.
Liquefied petroleum gas cylinder storage box (on ground floor only) Liquefied petroleum gas cylinder storage box (on ground floor only)
  • affixed to the external wall;
  • made of concrete or metal;
  • size not exceeding 1.2m (in height) x 1m (in width); and
  • with a projection not exceeding 0.4m.
Prefabricated storage cabinet placed on roof Prefabricated storage cabinet placed on roof
  • not permanently fixed to the roof;
  • height not exceeding 2m;
  • volume not exceeding 3m3; and
  • should not affect the structural safety and drainage system of the building.
Anti-burglary bars installed on a balcony Anti-burglary bars installed on a balcony
  • should not project beyond the external edge of the parapet on the balcony.
Main entrance metal gate Main entrance metal gate
  • not causing obstruction to the escape route when opened.
Metal drying rack Metal drying rack
  • affixed to the external wall; and
  • with a projection not exceeding 750mm.

Remark * Green and amenity facilities are regarded as unauthorized building works under Building Ordinance (Cap. 123) if they do not conform to the requirements listed above. The Buildings Department will take action against unauthorized building works in accordance with its enforcement policy and priority will be given to enforcement actions against those unauthorized building works having serious non-compliance with the requirements listed above.

Links to Technically Competent Person T2 Lists available in various Institutions and Associations

(For the reference of the owners who have submitted the reporting forms for the Reporting Scheme for UBWs in NTEHs but without the submission of the safety certification)

Disclaimer:

The Lists of Technically Competent Person T2 in Private Sector are complied, maintained and provided by various professional bodies in private sector. The Government of the HKSAR plays no part in the compilation of the Lists and shall not be responsible for any inaccuracies in the Lists nor any error/incomplete information arising from the hyperlink nor any loss or damage whatsoever arising out of or in connection with any information or the performance of the TCP-T2 in the Lists. The TCP-T2 in the Lists should not be regarded as endorsed or recommended by the Buildings Department or the Government of the HKSAR. Owners are responsible for making their own assessment of all information in the Lists. Related Institutions/Associations should be contacted should there be any queries on any matter regarding the Lists.