Our Project Hailed On SCMP #1

This is one of the beautiful example to blend the usage operation and real estate together. The operation thereof has attracted huge population flow which in return general significant amount of affiliated revenue stream to various business which eventually boost the rental value.

GBE with the landlord together has jointly assisted in various amusement facilities which are heavily demanding in safety, PPE compliance , building knowledge and team works . We pound of being the team. Welcome enquiry and feel free to drop us email

What we said about “subletting” in semi-government property have proved correct – Lesson Learnt

SCMP – 06TH JUNE 2022 – PAGE A5

 

The news today in SCMP referred . The HKSTP has confirmed failed to take reasonable step for controlling the lessee from sub-letting to 2nd or third tier of leasee. For us, it was not surprised , when we firstly highlighted the issue of mini-storage , shared office , co-working space which are all featured with 3rd tier of leasee in the lease structure, we have made notice to the issue about subletting down drifting the lease structure. Honestly, this kind of issue won’t be materialistic in private property like many in urban area, but it becomes profoundly sharp in the organisation such as HKSTP or probably other similar organisation which are duty-bound to some mission pushed forward by Government. To exemplify, we foresee the place such as West Kowloon Cultural area, Cyber port , Productive council ,…. may be in the rader.

More to discuss later

 

 

Hong Kong Surveyor in Australia Residential Projects with BIM

Great news to our industry. We have successfully extended our professional foot-print to Australia market. With the BIM technology backup and the Professional Knowledge, the residential projects has been accelerated from ground works, drainage works and now to timber structure. We are now in the process of window frame installation , which is posited in the cavity wall.

The land administration system there is alike to other commonwealth countries , where GBE has rided on similar system in UK. The country of the sub-urban took lead on the development control and impose the development constraint varying to the prevailing policy. They pose heavy emphasis to waste management , vehicles control and water supply system. Thus, when we entered into the Building permit stage, all the prerequisite requirement must meet the schematic approval .

The picture below is the ground sub-structure together with the drainage downpipe. The 2nd picture is the erection of the timber structure in pre-designed lattice form. To attain the insulation performance, cavity wall will be in place.

Picture 1

Picture 1

 

Picture 2

 

 

Hong Kong Surveyor in Overseas Project in today Pandemic

Though we are restricted travelling these day, the advanced telecommunication and BiM Technology has taken us far digitally.

Being a Hong Kong Surveyor, we are glad to participate in one small scale development project in Australia, a market where experienced a lot of upsurging in last 2 years.

From the professional perspective , the planning control there is highly similar to what we have practicing in Hong Kong . Indeed, the planning condition from local Australia Government has tightened and deepened control on both the construction details as well. The project program is usually short given the construction complexity is lower , but the distorted global supply chain and the shortage of labour there are hitting the progress.

Like Hong Kong and UK, there are Building control after the planning permission, but the Australian government is running the private sector manning the private sector . Developer, usually the professional Builder, will deploy the Building Surveyor to check and sign off the plan. Given the honest system, and accountability of the Surveyor upheld, there are usually sometime a conflicting view between the Builder’s and Surveyors. Well, a water running under the bridge at the end.

My office is glad to be the surveyor from Hong Kong to oversee the entire development. We have applied the latest BiM to showcase the design, progress and program. Though we were restricted going there , we mastered the entire progress at this moment. Good luck to us

(Sorry for all not be able to disclose more under NDA)

 

 

Drone inspection Paradox – Speaking from Professional

Drone application in the view from Professional Surveyor 

As drone technology, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) , becomes increasingly mature and commercialized, the real estate industry has jumped at its potential for building inspection. 

Use of Drone in Construction field / inspection 

Drone technology contributes to the construction field in several ways. It can be used to capture a full picture and provide a solid understanding of the site. It can help in constructing a progress model that assists in monitoring construction process with ease. 

Theory Vs Practical and Professional 

In theory, it is an elegant solution that allows inspection to be carried out on areas that are hard to access. In addition, some IT Engineer alleged that an accurate diagnosis of the building could be be exponentially enhanced by AI. Though, we have had a lot of reservation to this AI application theoretically. However, the actual application of drone technology in building inspection can be less than optimal and costlier than previously believed. Aside from all the hype, it may not stack up against other alternative building inspection technologies and methods.

Professional Surveyor Feedback to Drone application

While UAV can reach areas that are difficult to reach, they have their own physical limitations in professional building surveying. 

Physical Limitations includes:

Hardware Limitations 

  1. UAV has a general altitude limitation of 90m and the image pixel is limited at 1084-2k in most models. The image via the controller is usually compressed for storage, at an even lower resolution. For some inspection which demands close visual inspection, such as sealant shape, cracks on the wall, damp patches mark, deformation of materials, rusty stain etc. The image captured are lust loss and become unreliable. 

Glare from the reflective surface 

  1. Drone operation is heavily dependent on weather conditions. Sunlight can cause glare on reflective surfaces, rendering footage and image unusable. Should there is strong reflective sunlight, the image becomes glared with distorted illusion background . 

Insufficient data for thousand type of variation to build machine learning

  1. AI diagnosis for building inspection is often mentioned as a feature together with drones. AI is built on top of a massive database that promises diagnosis and predictive ability. However, buildings vary by many elements, such as building envelope, height, location, profile, and usage. Furthermore, buildings are dictated by regulations as a product of the location, weather and idiosyncratic factors. There simply isn’t enough data available to power AI to be a blanket solution to building inspection. Currently, professional knowledge is still essential to interpret information generated by AI.

Safety and Lack of Standardization 

  1. There are designated No Fly Zones due to congested buildings, privacy, securities, etc. In addition drones application is not standardized for UAV inspection deliverables. One very rare known limitation is the safety distance between the building and the drone, many drone model is designed to be in hold position when the drone intervenes into the safety distance. This distance makes the image captured ability be doubtful.  

Form over substance

Professional Knowledge is indispensable and cannot be replaced by UAV or AI currently. Having said that, drones can assist Surveyor in capturing images, reference pictures and preliminary scans prior to on-site survey. Unfortunately, it may upset the Surveyor owning to the image reliability. 

Drone application and 360 Cam

Our feed previously posted has presented the 360 Cam for capturing in centimetre distance to the external wall. The image is sent via data to the mobile phone. The inspector can inspect the physical object with the immediate aid of 360 image .

 

Be a smart user to technology 

Always be handy to the technology can advance your professional skill. On the contrary, too much fantasy to the technology will be ended with effort abortive

Does “Exempted Works” Matter you ? Court Case Referred

Unauthorised Building Works be the Deal Breaker 

In the court case Mariner International Hotels Ltd v Atlas Ltd (2007) 10 HKCFAR 1 , the parties involved were in legal fight about the Sale and Purchase agreement. One side was looking to exit the contract due to the steep down of the slump property market. The strategy they have adopted was to pinpoint some alleged unauthorised building works which might cause a toll to the “title”.  The court case was regarding a hotel valued more than HK$1 billion in 1996. The interesting thing in this case was the decision in Court of Appeal was revolved finally in the Court of Final Appeal. The definition in Section 41(3) of the Building Ordinance were subject to high scrutiny to its literal meaning and legal intention.

https://www.agoda.com/bay-bridge-lifestyle-retreat/hotel/hong-kong-hk.html?cid=1844104

The three structures involved in the court case (all on the roof of the hotel):

  1. Concrete plinths: a base for an air-conditioning chiller plant
  2. Gondola post: part of the system for cleaning the exterior walls and glass of the buildings
  3. An opening in the roof slab: for passage of a chilled water return pipe

Concrete plinths: https://www.bd.gov.hk/en/building-works/minor-works/minor-works-items/index_mwcs_items_c2b.html

Gondola post: https://sites.google.com/a/astec-technology.com.sg/astec-technology/product/BMU-System-Gondola-System/BMU-Davit-Arm-Gondola-System

An opening in the roof slab: https://www.roof.hk/kwun-tong-all

 

Section 41(3) of the Building Ordinance (version in 1996):

In 1996, Building works other than drainage works, ground investigation in the scheduled areas or site formation works not involving the structure of any building may be carried out in any building without application to or approval from the Building Authority.(Amended 44 of 1959 s. 21; 41 of 1982 s. 11; 52 of 1990 s. 8)

Provided that nothing in this subsection shall permit any building works to be carried out in contravention of any regulation.

The party putting forward the allegedly unauthorised building works argued that the structure on the roof of the hotel are not“in” the building and “involving the structure of the building”.

2004: Court of First Instance (decision later revolved by CFA) 

The judgement of Court of First Instance was issued in 2004, the judge thought that all three structures fall in the criteria listed in Section 41(3) of the Building Ordinance, therefore, they are not unauthorized building works.

  • Structures were “in” the building:

The judge thought that the three structures were “in” the building because they could be reached only by entering the hotel.  “In” is expressed in a broad sense, to denote a physical juxtaposition which may not necessarily include a complete enveloping. Examples “in” the building such as works which were within the parapet walls or the external envelope of the building were given by the judge. To support this view, the judge referred to the text of a bill to amend the Building Ordinance which proposed to change the section 41(3) to “works which are to be carried out inside an existing building”. The judge thought that this showed the government considering “in” did not mean “inside”.

  • Structures do not involve structure:

Second, the judge equating “involving the structure” with “structural”, which means, to affect or involve the structure, building works had to be a structural element. Hence, placing a heavy weight on the roof, or bolting it to the roof, did not mean it had become part of the structure, even though the weight had to be taken into account in loading calculations. Unfortunately , this “involving structural element” explanation was later rebutted by CFA.

2007: Court of Final Appeal

Nonetheless, the judgement of Court of Final Appeal reverse the decision made by the Court of First Instance.

  • Structures were not “in” the building:

Lord Bokhary PJ agreed that the interpretation of wordings in Section 41(3) should be narrowly in a manner consistent with the statutory scheme of which it formed part instead of a broad manner as mentioned by the judge in the Court of First Instance. It is because the purpose of the building legislation is to protect the public by subjecting structural acceptability to the scrutiny of the Building Authority, widening the exemption would reduce the scrutiny.

As regard “in the building”, Bokhary PJ’s view was that works on the roof of a building are not “in” it. There was, he observed, a purposive difference, relevant to safety, between building works protected from the elements by being in the building and those exposed to the elements.  Also, building works on the roof of a building are not ”in” it. Bokhary PJ then also added that he would not cut down the meaning of the word “in’ by recourse to the proposed amendment by which “inside” would be substituted for “in”, since the judge thought that the proposed amendment is to avoid doubt.

Another Court Case Concerning the Definition of “in” the building:

In Bright Dragon Properties Limited v Director of Lands, the judge express that “in” the building means within the parameters and under the ceiling cover of the building.

  • Structures not involve building structure:

Lord Bokhary PJ held the view that building works which served a structural function or were capable to affect the integrity of the structure are involving structure of the building.

To exempt from applying to or getting approval from the Building Authority before construction, the building works should be not involving the structure of the building and in the building. Both criteria should be achieved in order to exempt from approval. Hence, even if only one criterion is achieved, and the building work did not approved by Buildings Department, the building work will also be classified as Unauthorised Building Works (UBW).

2007: Amendment of Buildings Ordinance and Implementation of Minor Works Control System:

This court case attract attentions from different parties and speed up the amendment of Buildings Ordinance in 2007. To facilitate building owners and occupants in carrying out small-scale building works which do not falls into the exemption of Section 41(3), the Buildings Department imposed a Minor Works Control System. If building owners carry out building works that falls into the scope of Minor Works Control System but did not submit the required documents, the building works will be classified as Unauthorized Building Works (UBW).

  • Government proposed version

“Building works (other than drainage works, ground investigation in the scheduled areas, site formation works or minor works) in any building are exempt from sections 4, 9, 9AA, 14(1) and 21 if the works do not—

(a) alter the structural elements of the building; and

(b) bear any imposed load, wind load or dead load other than that due to their own weight.”

  • The wordings in proposed version was unclear commented by HKIS

Later on, HKIS submitted comments regarding the Buildings (Amendment) Bill 2007. They asked for clarification for the phase “bear any imposed load or dead load other that than due to their own weight”, because many very small scale building works also bear some imposed load, for example, the installation of hanging cabinet in kitchens or hanger rails in bathrooms.

Hanging Cabinet: https://www.realdealstubblefield.com/learning-to-install-kitchen-cabinets/

Hanger Rails: https://xiduoli.en.made-in-china.com/product/KOSEVDTdLGkX/China-Bathroom-Hotel-Wall-Mounted-Bath-Holder-Brass-Hanger-Rail-Towel-Rack.html

The Bill Committee Members agreed that certain exempted works are likely to bear imposed load and the proposed section 41(3)(b) could not clearly reflect the policy intent. The Administration was requested to improve the drafting of section 41(3).

  • The Administration modify the wordings

Then, the Administration clarified that furniture or fixtures such as kitchen cabinet or hanging rails within buildings are exempted in policy intent. The Administration admitted that the proposed wordings cannot clearly reflect the policy intent and planned to modify the wordings.

Today Current Version

“Building works (other than drainage works, ground investigation in the scheduled areas, site formation works or minor works) in any building are exempt from sections 4, 9, 9AA, 14(1) and 21 if the works do not involve the structure of the building.”

 

GBE welcomes comments from Professionals and enquiries from the Public

COVID-19 Outbreak From Fitness Centre and Restaurant

Top News

Call it an oversight or yet another loophole in social-distancing measures, but Hong Kong is again gripped by a serious Covid-19 outbreak. Centred on a gym in Sai Ying Pun, the cluster on Friday accounted for 47 cases that contributed to a dramatic surge in the city’s daily number of infections to 60.

Whether it heralds a fifth wave of the epidemic, as some experts are suggesting, is irrelevant; what matters is that for all our experience with the disease, a foolproof approach to containing its spread has still not been formulated.

The super-spreading event at Ursus Fitness seemingly resulted from instructors and customers not wearing masks. They were not required to; authorities had exempted people from wearing masks if doing vigorous exercise, even in indoor public places.

This is despite Covid-19 being spread by people exhaling and that being more pronounced when they are exercising. Belatedly, the government has reinstated the requirement of mask-wearing. All gym staff in the city have been ordered to have a coronavirus test by Sunday.

The oversight has been highly disruptive; in addition to the staff and customers who have tested positive and the gym’s closure for deep cleaning, 240 people who visited recently have had to be quarantined. Some were believed to be bankers, lawyers and educators, and offices and colleagues have been affected.

Source: https://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3125297/hong-kong-gym-outbreak-again-underlines-need-exercise-caution

VENTILATION IS KEY TO FIGHT COVID-19 TRANSMISSION

Source: https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/3123251/hong-kong-expecting-around-20-new-coronavirus

According to The Wall Street Journal, after urging steps like handwashing, masking and social distancing, researchers say proper ventilation indoors should join the list of necessary measures. Health scientists and mechanical engineers have started issuing recommendations to schools and businesses that wish to reopen for how often indoor air needs to be replaced, as well as guidelines for the fans, filters and other equipment needed to meet the goals.

Source: https://www.wsj.com/articles/key-to-preventing-covid-19-indoors-ventilation-11598953607

The above videos show how airflow can be visualized without a mask.

Ventilation System to Become an Integral Part Property Grading

Office interior with white columns and panoramic windows in modern loft. Many green plants in pots in workroom with laptops on tables with chairs and cups at daylight, flat lay, nobody, free space

The latest outbreak served as a dire warning for Hong Kong. Covid-19 shined a harsh light on how ventilation can impact business continuity and endanger capex investment. Ventilation provision has become a strict prerequisite for businesses that comes before any initial capital investment and expenditures in order to ensure business continuity.

Which operation demands ventilation

Obviously, all operations require ventilation, but what the standard of ventilation is and how to achieve it? The laws involved are from Schedule 2 of Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap.132) and the Buildings Ordinance (Cap. 123). The former legislation is to control “SCHEDULED PREMISES” where crowded space is anticipated while the latter legislation deals with office space.

Second Schedule
[ss. 2, 93 & 102]
Scheduled Premises
(Format changes—E.R. 4 of 2019)


Class of premises
No. of cubic metres per hour for each person who may be accommodated in the premises
Cinemas
13
Dancing establishments
17
Factory canteens
17
Funeral parlours
17
Restaurants
17
Theatres
13

Air Supply Vs. Air Change

The current standard enforced in ventilation in office buildings is the volume of “air supply”, not numbers of air change. There is a huge difference between these two concepts. Air change, which is repeatedly mentioned by the microbiologist, is NOT mentioned by the law.

Massive ducting is needed for air change results no incentive for better system

To achieve the required air change standard, the ducting quantity and sizing is likely almost double than that of normal air supply provision, making it almost impossible for many offices and premises to achieve. Developers are used to providing the minimum standard as required by the law, and not catering to users nor designed for preventing viral outbreak.

Proper Air Treatment System is the Silver Shield

Along with WFH, Social Distancing is an implied feature of our society today. With the slow adoption of the vaccine due to issues stemming from logistics and mistrust, we can expect that limitations on physical gathering may still be in place for the better of 2021. This means that businesses and schools may experience intermittent closures, and productivity technologies such as Zoom will become a more permanent part of work.

Creating indoor air circulation system with Air Treatment

Source: https://www.wsj.com/articles/key-to-preventing-covid-19-indoors-ventilation-11598953607

While air change with external air involves substantial ducting engineering, many operators may consider building the internal circulation system to significantly improve the air quality. There are different types of air purifiers in the market which can kill virus and improve air quality of the indoor environment. The size of your room is an important factor for choosing a suitable Air purifier. Bigger spaces will need larger air purifiers so make sure you choose an air purifier that can operate in a space that is 20-40% larger than the room for the best performance. GBE offers site inspection services for air quality control and recommends the air purifier for your best suit. Please contact us for more details.

See How Strategic Air Purifier Placement Reduces COVID Virus Spread Within Music Classrooms

Air Purification System Selection

 

There are different types of air purifiers in the market which can kill virus and improve air quality of the indoor environment. The size of your room is an important factor for choosing a suitable Air purifier. Bigger spaces will need larger air purifiers so make sure you choose an air purifier that can operate in a space that is 20-40% larger than the room for the best performance. GBE offers site inspection services for air quality control and recommends the air purifier for your best suit. Please contact us for more details.

 

Turning Non-domestic space to Domestic usage for Public Rental Housing

To boost the housing supply is the urgent needs in today HK. Although many resources such as transitional housing and new town development are allocated , GBE has been working on two interesting cases which are to convert the “non-domestic space” to domestic usage. We love to sharing our experience to all reader.

Technical Hurdle for conversion 

There are many technical consideration to the conversion. To list some, the issues cover the “GFA” , “site coverage”, natural lighting and ventilation, open space, Fire safety are all in the radar . On top of this , some tricky issues such as concrete cover ; width of re-entry for open space; barrier free access ; provision of gas aperture , Kitchen, sanitary fitment and the clear headroom for the domestic space are all counting on.

Overcome the hurdle

It is technically complex to resolve all the issues in one scheme. We have to prioritise the amount of effort to resolve each problem. Honestly , some of the technical hurdle may be too costly to resolve or even not possible to overcome

  • GFA and site coverage is the most tricky

Among all the hurdles, the GFA and site coverage are the most pertinent and profound factor. We have had a blog talking about the GFA conversion. Honestly , in the case of conversion, we usually have to rebuild the entire GFA calculation and site coverage from scarp. It boils down to the classification of site, open space and roof cover area. It is highly tedious but technical process.

  • Lighting and ventilation / fire safety 

Many peers usually have the impression that these are resolvable and always undermine the inherent difficulties. Let us share you one point, the importance of the RHS and prescribed windows are always in the play. Since the RHS is dictated much by site surrounding and site boundary, it eventually restricts the design of light/ventilation very much

The same hurdles happens to the fire safety. Some of the professional may overlook the essence of the concrete cover and believe the fire proofing materials be helpful. Unfortunately , the clear headroom of the space is always very limited and the resulted headroom after the new fire protection layer added may lead to inadequacy, it sounds ridiculous but it did happen.

  • Sanitary Fitment and Kitchen 

These are not usually posing difficult , but the problem raised from the gas aperture for the bathroom, the RHS for kitchen and the drainage provision for the sanitary fitment. The gas aperture’s design demands a lot of the space consideration while the kitchen needs the RHS. When all these factors come together, the layout of the apartment becomes quite challenging

Looking forward to the future

While a lot of resources have been allocated to MiC , Transitional housing and New town development , we can see there are some abandoned or under-utilised space in urban area , which can be converted into the habitation purpose. We have attempted successfully such conversion in some old districts in Hong Kong. We hope we can bring more similar cases for sharing in future