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Building safety

Building Defects

Building Defects

Due to ageing and natural deterioration of the building fabric, many common types of defects are found on buildings. Some of the defects may affect the structural safety of the buildings while most of them are localized and non-structural in nature.

Building owners or occupants should always be aware of the condition of their buildings. To avoid unnecessary panic, building owners should:

  • identify the symptoms,
  • understand the possible causes of the defects,
  • carry out timely repair and maintenance works to keep their buildings in good structural condition.

Common types of Building Defects

1. Non-structural cracks
Non-structural cracks
  • Hair-line cracks
  • Cracks that stretch to many directions
  • Cracks that appear between non-structural walls and structural members
2. Spalling of concrete
Spalling of concrete
  • Stains of water or rust are found on the surface or there is seepage of water
  • Cracks appear
  • Spalling of rendering/tiles
  • The surface bulges and large pieces of concrete peel off, exposing the rusty steel bars
3. Structural cracks
Structural cracks
  • Cracks that penetrate the surface rendering into the structural concrete or load-bearing brick wall
  • Cracks that appear on structural elements of buildings such as beams
  • Long cracks that run across the wall
  • Rusty stains that appear on the cracks
  • Diagonal cracks that appear on the corners of window frames or door frames
4. Defective external wall finishes
Defective external wall finishes
  • Debonding of finishes / tiles from the wall resulting in hollow sound when tapped with a hammer
  • Cracking of the wall surface
  • Bulging with a hollow base
  • Falling off
  • Loosening of finishing

Repair and Maintenance of Building Defects

Building owners have full and ultimate responsibility to maintain not only their own premises but also the common parts of the building. Such responsibility is NOT released by just reporting the issues to the relevant government departments.

Repair and Maintenance of Building Defects
Type of Defect Actions Required
Non-structural cracks
  • Building owners should keep in view the conditions of the defects.
  • Unless the circumstances have changed, owners may carry out repair as necessary.
Spalling of concrete / structural cracks / defective external wall
  • Building owners should arrange for timely repair and maintenance works to upkeep the building in good condition.
Defects are found within own premises
  • Respective building owners should arrange themselves for the appointment of building professionals to coordinate repair of the defects.
Defects are noted in the common parts of the building
  • Building owners should alert the owners’ corporation/ management company for arranging the appointment of building professionals to coordinate the necessary repair works.
  • The cost should be borne by concerned building owners normally according to the shares stipulated in the deed of mutual covenant.

Building owners who intend to carry out building repair works should consult building professionals on the appropriate action to be taken, including the appointment of Registered Contractors or Registered Minor Works Contractors for carrying out the necessary repair works.

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