According to the Buildings Ordinance (BO), any person who intends to carry out building works in private buildings (including A&A works in existing buildings) or on private land are required to submit plans to the Buildings Department (BD) for prior approval and consent, unless such works are exempted under section 41(3) of the BO or are carried out as minor works following the simplified requirements of the Minor Works Control System. Otherwise, the works are unauthorised building works (UBWs) which the BD will take enforcement against according to prevailing policy.
Carrying out exempted works in private buildings does not require prior approval and consent from the BD. However, no works should contravene the Building Regulations. Before commencement of building works, advice from building professionals, registered contractors and, when necessary, authorized persons should be sought for ensuring compliance with the BO.
The following are examples of the likely implications of carrying out A&A works in domestic premises from the perspective of the BO.
As it is a condition imposed under BO s 42 that the green balconies and utility platforms should not be enclosed in order that their areas can be exempted from gross floor areas calculations, enclosing such features above parapet height by windows, glass panels, grilles, solid walls or similar features would result in contravention of the condition of exemption and may result in contravention of the BO.
Installation of windows, grilles and/or glass panels for enclosure of balconies (other than green balconies)/ verandahs will be unacceptable if the works involve the structure of a building, or result in inadequate natural lighting and ventilation provisions to the premises, or result in contravention of fire safety requirements for balconies forming an integral part of an exit staircase, etc. Nonetheless, installation of openable windows enclosing balconies/verandahs (not applicable to green balconies/utility platforms and balconies forming integral part of an exit staircase) may be acceptable if:
- the works do not involve the structure of a building (for example, structural members of the balcony/verandah would not be removed or altered);
- the originally approved protective barrier in the form of parapet wall or metal railing would not be altered or removed;
- the openable windows comply with the requirements for natural lighting and ventilation as stipulated in the Building (Planning) Regulations; and
- the works are proceeded with in accordance with the simplified requirements of the MWCS.
Removal of the enclosing walls of a kitchen for conversion to an open kitchen may involve structural elements resulting in contravention of the BO. Such works may also contravene the fire safety requirements, if the open kitchen so converted is located near the main exit of the flat concerned, and pose safety risks to the occupants of the premises and other occupants of the same building.
Removal of partition walls in domestic premises should comply with the building standards stipulated in the building regulations including not involving the structure of the building.
Erection of partition walls in domestic premises should comply with the building standards stipulated in the building regulations including not causing overloading to the building and not affecting the means of escape in case of fire.
Erection of roof structures including trellis should comply with the building standards stipulated in the building regulations including not causing overloading to the building and not affecting the means of escape in case of fire. If the roof has been designed as a fire refuge area, such structures should also not contravene the fire safety requirements and pose safety risks to the occupants of the same building.
Furthermore, owners and occupants are also advised to observe other requirements such as the Deed of Mutual Covenant of the building prior to the carrying out of A&A works in their premises. If the works to be carried out involve the common part of a building, it is advisable that agreement from the Owners' Corporation, Mutual Aid Committee or the management companies as appropriate be sought prior to the carrying out of such works.
Apart from complying with the procedural requirements on submissions to the Buildings Department as mentioned in the leading paragraph, the alteration works to the common part of a building should also comply with the building standards stipulated in the Buildings Ordinance (BO) and Regulations such as not causing overloading to the building; not affecting the means of escape in case of fire, etc. Owners and occupants are advised to consult building professionals on the feasibility of the proposed alteration for compliance with the BO.
Furthermore, owners and occupants are also advised to check any restrictions as may be stipulated in the Deed of Mutual Covenant, and to obtain the agreement from the Owners’ Corporation, Mutual Aid Committee or the management company prior to the carrying out of the alteration works.