Another “Wake Up Call” for Building Maintenance

The maintenance issue is always a big topic for discussion all over the world. Although many engineers and specialists have given their point of view to show the importance of building maintenance, people always neglect the inspection report and not taking it seriously. Here is another “Wake Up Call” for us with the accident in Florida condo Collapse.

According to command7, it states that why a lot of facility managers react to problems as opposed to being proactive. It’s not hard to see why—with all of the pressure that there is to save money wherever possible, maintenance can often take a back seat to more immediate concerns. The problem is that waiting until something is broken to fix it is possibly cheaper in the short term, but can lead to an expensive surprise later on. Source: https://command7.com/importance-building-repair-maintenance-services/

Also from Ivor H. Seeley in his book” Building Maintenance” states that the building maintenance issue is being neglected.

“Major Structural Damage” in Champlain Towers

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jun/25/miami-condo-collapse-what-happened-latest

According to The Washington Post, an engineer warned in October 2018 that he had discovered “major structural damage” to a concrete slab below the pool deck in the section of the Champlain Towers South condominium building that collapsed Thursday, killing at least four and leaving scores trapped, according to records released by local authorities late Friday.

 

Source: Structural Field Survey Report – https://www.townofsurfsidefl.gov/docs/default-source/default-document-library/town-clerk-documents/champlain-towers-south-public-records/8777-collins-ave—structural-field-survey-report.pdf?sfvrsn=882a1194_2

Source: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/miami-beach/article252421658.html

Kit Miyamoto, a veteran Los Angeles-based structural engineer who specializes in structural resilience, said that a pillar or column supporting the building appeared to have failed. Corrosion by the salty air or a “differential settlement,” meaning differences between how sides of the building were sitting on the land, could have caused a pillar to collapse, he said.

“This is truly a classic failure of a column,” said Miyamoto, chief executive of Miyamoto International, a global earthquake and structural engineering firm. “It was supporting many stories and that’s why it happened very suddenly.”

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/champlain-towers-south-surfside/2021/06/26/a509519a-d5de-11eb-a53a-3b5450fdca7a_story.html?utm_campaign=wp_post_most&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_most&carta-url=https%3A%2F%2Fs2.washingtonpost.com%2Fcar-ln-tr%2F34057fa%2F60d74d179d2fda8060e92572%2F596bd281ae7e8a44e7de95cc%2F11%2F72%2F60d74d179d2fda8060e92572

A ” Better Way” to understand the building condition

In GBE, we use the new technology to show our findings during the inspection in order to make our clients understand more about their unit or property condition. After the inspection, it always needs to act fast for repairing and maintenance for keeping the property in a good condition. Here are some examples of how GBE perform our findings in our inspection through Matterport.

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

Building Information Modelling (BIM)

BIM is not new to the architecture, engineering and construction industry, it is a process that takes advantage of design technology to create better, faster, and more cost-effective outcomes. From 2018 to 2020, the adoption rate have surged by over 30% in Hong Kong, so it is the time for us to learn what is BIM and why so many companies adopt BIM.

BIM in Hong Kong: https://www.bim.cic.hk/Upload/publication/87/download_2/b55a28ce365e436292cf0e5de923b09e.pdf

BIM in construction: http://www.convertbim.com/succeed-implementing-bim-process-part-2/

What is BIM?

BIM is not software, but a process. Software is the technological core of BIM, which supports 3D design, intelligent models and information management, but it only represent part of BIM. Another part is social components, including the work practice that utilize software collaboration and coordination. Therefore, BIM represent the process to construct a digital information model for a building.

Common Software for BIM: https://veracityconsultant.com.tw/what-is-bim

BIM is so much more than a design tool, within a BIM process, a project team contribute information and data about a proposed building in a shared digital space. The digital information contributed could include specifications, schedules, performance, requirements, programmes, cost plans, and so on, and of course some drawings. Those drawings are created in 3D, while the non-graphical information is linked to the graphical 3D models, when you explore and click on different parts of the 3D representation, you’ll be able to access the information about it. Clicking on a light for example might give you information on its manufacturer, cost, performance level and when it will need replacing. Hence, BIM is not only for architects, but for all parties that involves in construction.

How to contribute information to BIM: https://www.a2kstore.com/understanding-levels-of-bim

Information linked in BIM: https://www.thenbs.com/knowledge/what-is-building-information-modelling-bim

Why Use BIM?

Executive Director Building Information Management at National Institute of Building Science suggest that BIM cut construction cost by 13% to 20%. A study from the Stanford University Centre for Integrated Facilities Engineering suggested that BIM attribute a 7% reduction in time for project completion.

Construction cost reduce 20%

Construction time reduce 7%

 

In the traditional way of construction, project information is not used efficiently, much information is wasted due to mistrust, do not know what information is available, lack of process and standards as well as information not yet complete. According to the research from U.S. Department of Commerce Technology Administration, in traditional method of construction, the poor use of data coupled with highly fragmented teams cost the US capital facilities industry $15.8 billion annually, 2/3 of which is paid for by the owners. While BIM have clear guideline for information management, it clarifies how to create and share data by stating the requirement for who, when and how they provide data as well as the quality check to be undertaken to ensure accurate data. BIM Adoption Survey 2019 conducted by HK CIC found that near 90% of BIM Leaders in Hong Kong agree BIM enhance communication.

Huge cost for information misuse: https://damassets.autodesk.net/content/dam/autodesk/www/solutions/bim/BIM_for_Owners.pdf

BIM enhance communication

Worse still, 30% of the construction cost in U.S. is paid for rework, for example, the air conditioning duct is designed to go through a load-bearing walls. But since this arrangement only appears in the air conditioning plan, construction workers do not realize it until the load-bearing walls has already been built, they can only change the design in the construction site. From the MacLeamy curve, we understand that the project becomes more costly to change when it is in later stages. A study from the Stanford University Centre for Integrated Facilities Engineering reports that the function of clash detections in BIM resulting in savings of as much as 10% of the contract value.

MacLeamy curve: https://www.cibsejournal.com/cpd/modules/2016-12-bim/

Reduce Rework

Based on the research from U.S. Department of Commerce Technology Administration, in traditional way of construction, more than 60% of the capital invested failed to meet schedule target. For example, in traditional method, cost estimating requires Quantity Surveyors to count components one by one, while BIM software can count itself. A study from the Stanford University Centre for Integrated Facilities Engineering suggested that BIM decrease 80% in the time required to generate an expenditure quote. BIM Adoption Survey 2019 conducted by HK CIC found that over 80% of BIM leader agree BIM enhance time management.

Time and Cost Estimation in BIM: https://clouda2k.co.uk/entering-the-5th-dimension-3d-bim-to-5d-bim/

BIM enhance time management

GBE welcomes comments from professionals and enquiries from the Public.

Hand-free Toilet

In the week between May 7th and 15th, 867 COVID-19 infections were found in Thailand Simmummuang fruit and vegetable market. Health investigators in Thailand identified the entrance of the public toilet as the suspected source of most infections. This rises our concern on the infection possibility of public toilets in Hong Kong.

Simmummuang fruit and vegetable market: https://www.bastillepost.com/hongkong/article/8489819-%e6%b3%b0%e8%a1%97%e5%b8%82%e7%88%86867%e4%ba%ba%e6%96%b0%e5%86%a0%e7%a2%ba%e8%a8%ba-%e5%8e%9f%e5%85%87%e7%ab%9f%e6%98%af%e5%85%ac%e5%bb%81

Transmission Route in Public Toilets

According to Joseph Allen, associate professor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, public toilets can be an important source of COVID-19 spread. The major way of spread are flushing and touching.

When toilet water contains viruses and bacteria, the churning and bubbling of water creates particles that will float in the air. These  viruses and bacteria will spread around the toilet, linger in the air and settle onto surfaces in the toilet. COVID-19 can survive in the air for 3 hours and even up to 24 hours in paper. Hence, the possible transmission route are people breathing in viruses when flushing and people touch installations in the toilets which viruses and bacteria settled.

COVID-19 in toilets: https://specialty.mims.com/topic/covid-19-in-hospitals–toilets–staff–public-areas-show-contamination-

Ways to Prevent Infection in Public Toilets

In Hong Kong, the most common way to prevent infection in public toilets are wearing mask, wash hands after using the toilet and increase disinfecting arrangements. Nonetheless, these precautions still remain some loopholes in our dense against COVID-19. One common example is after washing hands, people still need to hold the door handle and open the door. If there are some viruses settled on the door handle before, the people will also get in touch with the viruses and may get infected if he or she then touch his or her mouth, nose or eyes. This example is just a tip of an iceberg, in public toilets, not only we need to touch door handles, but also push button toilet flush, faucet handle, soap dispenser handle, etc.. The more we touch, the higher the possibility that we are infected.

Touching doors in toilets: https://health.ucdavis.edu/coronavirus/covid-19-information/coronavirus-mistakes.html

Touching Flush Button: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/public-bathrooms-carry-coronavirus-risks-heres-how-to-be-careful

To close up the loopholes, the best ways is to reduce the amount of viruses and bacteria spreading from flushing and minimize the need of touching in public toilets.

Reduce Viruses from Flushing

People no need to touch the toilet lid, the lid will automatically opens and closes when nearing or leaving the toilet. Therefore, even when people forget to close the toilet lid, the auto open/close lid will close the lid and reduce the amount of viruses and bacteria spreading.

Minimize the need for Touching

Although closing the toilet lid will reduce the amount of bacteria and viruses comes from flushing, there are still risk of getting infected in public toilets as it cannot minimize the amount of bacteria and viruses to 0. As a result, another effective precaution will be minimize the need for touching in public toilet, that is, to update a traditional toilet into a hand-free toilet. Here are the lists of installations in hand-free toilets.

  • Auto Toilet Door
  • Auto Flush Sensor
  • Auto Trash Bin
  • Auto Toilet Seat Sanitiser Dispenser
  • Auto Toilet Paper Dispenser
  • Auto Tissue Dispenser
  • Auto Soap Dispenser
  • Auto Faucet
  • Auto Door
  • Auto Hand Dryer

No ones knows when this pandemic will end, but we can try out best to minimize the possible spreading routes. Wearing mask and frequent disinfection are ways preventing viruses getting into our body, while upgrading toilets to hand-free toilets are smart ways to reduce the amount of bacteria exists in toilets. GBE will keep updating different measures to stop transmission route for the public to fight COVID-19.

GBE welcomes comments from professionals and enquiries from the Public

Cracks in Stone Cladding

Nice Stone Cladding but Danger from Height 

Stone cladding are natural, good-looking and durable, and are widely used in both interior and exterior applications. Although stones are durable, on average, you may not know that there at least is 1 to 2 % of stone panels on buildings in US (Simmons & Richter, 1993) contain cracks due to various reasons.

Example of cracks on stone cladding: http://www.service.hkpc.org/hkiemat/previous/2008/mastec03_notes/SLCHAN.PDF

Common Types of Stones

  • Granite

Most granites are suitable to be used as building materials, as they are hard, dense, durable, virtually impermeable to water, resistant to impact damage and stable within industrial environments. Because of the high cost of quarrying and finishing granite, it is frequently used as a cladding material or alternatively cast directly onto concrete cladding units. Besides, granite is also available for flooring and for hard landscaping including pavings, setts and kerbs.

Granite: https://www.minimegeology.com/granite-igneous-rock-graywhite

  • Sandstones

Natural sandstones can be fine or coarse in texture depends on the nature of the original sand deposit. Some types of sandstones, for instance, Calcareous sandstones, are not durable under acid rain.

Sandstone: https://freewp.cfsscloud.hk/idb/rs024-sandstone/

  • Limestones

Limestones must not be mixed with or located above sandstones, as this may cause rapid deterioration of the sandstone. Some limestones, for example, dolomitic limestone, is more durable then original limestone as it replace calcium carbonate content by magnesium carbonate. Nonetheless, it still cannot resistant to heavily polluted atmospheres.

Limestone: https://www.azomining.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=1236

Effect of Cracks

The major concern of cracks development on stone slab is the weakening of fracture withstand ability on the maximum wind load of the stone panel. Another concern is that cracks may diminish much water exclusion properties of the of sealer applied on the stone surface. The effect of cracks will eventually contribute to highly undesirable appearance effect and worst still , the safety issue for instance, corrosion of anchors. Other effects includes aesthetic qualities and durability of the stone.

Stone cladding falls from the building facade: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Examples-of-stone-slabs-removed-from-the-building-facade-a-east-side-b-south-side_fig4_336970581

Types of Cracks

  • Natural Crack

Natural cracks are formed by geologic processes in the stone before it was quarried, hence, natural cracks are most likely more than several million years old. Some natural cracks appears to be artificial cracks, so natural cracks are recognized by the presence of natural crystal. Natural cracks are ubiquitous in some granites, 1 to 2 dozen may occur within an area of one square foot. When liquid, for instance, sea water and rain, makes its way through the clefts and dispense minerals into the crack, crystals formed. Although natural cracks are common in stones, not all of them weaken the stone, only some severely decrease the strength of stone.

Natural cracks: https://www.123rf.com/photo_98560883_red-granite-slab-with-a-deep-crack-natural-stone-texture.html

Natural crystal in natural cracks: https://tinyrituals.co/blogs/tiny-rituals/pyrite-meaning-healing-properties-everyday-uses

  • Exacerbated Natural Crack

Exacerbated natural cracks are natural cracks that have been widened or lengthened by non-geologic activities. They are recognized by its width and length exceeding the value expected for a natural crack.

  • Artificial Crack – Crack developed other than by natural process

Artificial cracks are formed by non-geologic processes. They appeared to have sharp edges on polish face, irregular walls and do not have well developed crystal. If artificial cracks are located in or near mid-span, they can severely decrease the strength / durability of the stone panel.

Artificial Crack: https://www.cnilawfirm.com/specific-construction-components-gallery/

Professional Building Surveyor pay attention to the “Causes of Cracks”

Cracks formed when the local stress of stone is larger than the local strength. The reasons increase local stress includes geological processes, quarrying, handling, fabrication, and erection. Each kind of reasons carries a ton of knowledge behind. Besides, residual stress may also be a major factor in the development of cracks, source of residual stress includes handling, fabrication, shipping, dunnage, and erection on the building. The most typical is the “erection” problem

 

  • Geological Processes

Stones experience heat and cold cycles repeatedly, in heat days, the stone expands while in cold days, the stone contract. The repeated thermal expansion stresses tend to open cracks along grain boundaries.

Cracks: https://www.champlainstone.com/stone-101/

  • Quarrying Process – Fine flaw hidden in the slab block 

stone can be damaged in the quarry if it is extracted by the use of explosives which may cause internal fractures and cracks.

 

  • Handling and Fabrication

damage can be caused by excessive tooling of the surface of the stone, it may cause hairline cracks.

 

  • Dry fixing / erection

If the workmanship or the installation of the stone cladding is too not strictly controlled, mal-anchorage may cause the hairline cracks will be easily found near the anchor point.

  • Shipping – Storage of inventory 

Granite slab should avoid being carried flat . The localised stress building up due to unduly surface may cause hairline granite crack. Examine the stone finishes before hanging on the wall is highly important

  • Dunnage

Dunnage is used to protect stones during shipping, if unsuitable material are used, for example, softwood, the stone may slide around and form cracks or damage.

 

Quality Control before Installation

Before installation, materials should be inspected according to the construction quality acceptance specifications and design requirements, for example, have factory certificate, inspection report, material mechanical properties test and stone radioactivity. On site witness sampling and sampling inspection can also be conducted. The variety, color, pattern, flexural strength, tensile strength, compressive strength and common defects of the stone tile should be checked.

Inspection

 Inspection Method Related Defects
Crack Meter/ Crack Comparing Device/ Optimal Measuring Device, Mechanical Extensometer Fracture, Cracking, Cracking or fracture of the stone element near the joints
Cladding Flatness and Slope Evaluation Vegetation, loosening of the stone element, non-linearity or inadequate dimensions of the joints, cracking or fracture of the stone elements near the joints
Measurement of Internal Humidity Level Biological Colonization, alteration or deposition, cracking or fracture of the stone element near the joints
Percussion Test

 

Loss of adherence of the stone element, flatness flaws of the cladding surface, Gap in the stone

 

Cladding Flatness and Slope Evaluation: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00170-019-04893-7?shared-article-renderer

 

Tapping rod for percussion test: https://shopee.com.my/TAPPING-ROD-MOSAIC-TESTER-TILE-TESTER-TILE-CHECK-EXTENDABLE-HOLLOW-WALL-HAMMER-CHECKER-HOLLOW-EXAMINER-TILES-CHECKING-i.53165988.1957429999

Maintenance – Cleaning

External granite and marble cladding require regular washing with a mild detergent solution. For example, highly polished external marble should be washed at least twice per year to prevent permanent dulling of the surface.

Cleaning: https://www.industrial-clean.co.uk/services/brick-and-stone-cleaning/

 

In short, although stones are durable, regular inspection and maintenance are required to identity the effect of cracks one by one and to distinguish whether maintenance is required.

GBE welcomes comments from professionals and enquiries from the Public

 

References

Simmons G., Richter D. Cracks in building stone. International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences & Geomechanics Abstracts, 1993, 30(7): 1553-1557.

Exposure on Elevator Ride is full of air-borne transmission

Top News

Otis Worldwide Corporation (NYSE: OTIS) released the results of a three-month academic study that investigates how elevator airflow affects potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus and a science-based approach for how to mitigate that exposure in elevators.

Findings show the significant amount of air exchange present in most elevators combined with simple mitigation strategies, including all riders properly wearing a surgical-style mask and the installation of a common type of air purification system, puts an elevator ride on the lower end of the exposure spectrum.

The study indicates strongly the provision of air purification system inside the lift car reduce the airborne transmission

MITIGATION STRATEGIES – VENTILATION CAN REDUCE RELATIVE EXPOSURE EVEN FURTHER

The study was led by Dr. Qingyan (Yan) Chen, the James G. Dwyer Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue, who is widely recognized for his research into the spread of infectious disease through indoor air systems – and how to prevent it.

“Air exchange is important. the study findings concluded that the higher ventilation in an elevator, relative to the compared activities, results in lower exposure opportunity. If all passengers properly wear masks, the relative exposure risk drops 50%. Air purification, called NPBI, can reduce this by an additional 20-30%,”

Source: https://www.otis.com/zh/hk/news?cn=otis-releases-elevator-airflow-study-findings-covid-19-exposure-on-elevator-ride-is-low-risk-with-simple-mitigation

RISK OF CONTAMINATION IN LIFT CAR – PISTON MOVEMENT CREATES THE AIR DRAG

The study further investigate the position of the air inlets and outlets relationship. Alike to our another presentation 2021 and the study-2008 by University of Hong Kong, the position of inlet/outlet does significantly influences the flow circulation and droplet dispersion.
An air purifier does not eliminate airborne transmission. The droplet dispersion is reduced when a pair of an inlet and an outlet is implemented. The overall practical conclusion is that the placement and design of the air purifier and ventilation systems significantly affect the droplet dispersion and AVT. Thus, engineering designs of such systems must take into account the flow dynamics in the confined space the systems will be installed.

 

Source:https://aip.scitation.org/doi/10.1063/5.0038180

VENTILATION & AIR PURIFICATION SYSTEM SELECTION

(NCCO installation by Kingclorence)

The ventilation inside the Elevator is governed by legislation and code of practice from EMSD. It will be great if the position of inlet / outlet may be given due consideration in term of droplet dispersion and aerosol. Thus , in the absence of retrofit for outlet / inlet , the quick fix is to install the air-purification machine which can encourage the positive air flow.

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.

Thank you

 

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.

 

Visual Information Technology in Surveying and Engineering Industries – Part 2

The coronavirus pandemic has affected most of the people around the world. After one year of affection, people started to change their work habits and business model in order to suit this unexpected situation. Work from home(WFH) become the most common arrangement for millions, increasing numbers of people had been saying goodbye to their office. Thanks to communication technologies like skype, Facetime, Slack, Zoom, Google Hangouts and etc; people can still connect and communicate with each other. However, for surveying and engineering industry, inspection or measurement are still necessary work on site. Today we are going to look through how technology may help our architects, engineers, surveyors and all stakeholders to inspect and work throughout the visual information.

Brief History of 360 Panorama

Virtual reality, aerial panorama and 360 panorama are great technologies to use for providing information to all stakeholders. In 1826, Joseph Nicéphore Nièpce invented photography; he took the first photo in the world for more realistic visual information.

 

Credit: https://www.bygonely.com/bg_item/photography-1793-by-joseph-nicephore-niepce/

After the photography was invented, the first panoramic photo camera has invented since 1843. Here is the vintage panoramic photo taken by George Barnard in 1864 which can show clearly and more information throughout the photo.

 

 

Credit: https://www.loc.gov/resource/pan.6a00039

Evolution of Action Camera

Thanks for the technology so far, action camera can take panoramic photo in one single shot. The first GoPro camera was launched commercially in 2004.

 

 

Credit: https://media.techeblog.com/images/first-gopro-camera.jpg

With GoPro evolution, action camera is a suitable camera in all extreme condition which is the best tool for inspection. However, for either filmmaking or inspection; more visual information which help the editors or inspectors easier to get the information. Therefore, people use the action camera for 360 films or 360 photos

 

Evolution of GoPro Action Camera

Credit: https://cheesycam.com/first-problems-with-gopro-hero4-4k-camera-dangerous-battery/gopro-evolution-original-hero-hero2-hero3-hero3-plus-hero4-4k/

GoPro Omni 360

Credit: https://vrscout.com/news/gopro-360-omni-camera-rig-on-sale/

 

From Action Camera to 360 Camera

As the spherical 360 panoramas taken from the GoPro device above still need to use the software to align and edit. It is such a time consuming work flow and not easy for normal people. Luckily, Ricoh has latched their first 360 camera which is the world’s first commercially available spherical camera. This camera become the best tool for inspection which is easy to use and edit in order to get the information.

 

 

Credit: https://theta360.com/en/

Ricoh Theta Sample Photo

 

GBE used both Mi sphere and Insta 360 One X as our inspection tools for visual inspection which the 360 camera helps all stakeholder easy to review the footage and capture the information throughout the image. Here is our first YouTube clip for using 360 camera in our inspection project which give a brief idea of how 360 camera can provide information.

MI Sphere Camera

Credit: https://qwertyarticles.com/2018/06/30/the-world-seen-from-360-degrees-a-mi-sphere-camera-review/

 

Insta 360 One X

Credit: https://www.insta360.com/hk/product/insta360-onex

Visual Information from 360 Camera

By using the software provided by 360 camera manufacturer, the stakeholder can easily capture and collect information from the footage which can easily work remotely and share information to collaborate with others in every project. Here are the sample of the GBE project for you guys to have some idea how the picture can be capture through the software.

 

Here are other sample photos captured from Insta 360 One X

 

In next chapter, we will go through the 3D virtual space by using the latest technology and 360 camera in our industry for visual information.

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