Fire Safety in Commercial Premises

Fire safety can be regarded as one of the primary considerations in building designs. The terms of fire safety cover a wide range of building concepts, ordinances, and regulations under the law. When we consider the fire safety works in banks, the concept of Fire Safety (Commercial Premises) Ordinance should not be omitted. The introduction of FS(CP)O is one of the ordinances which aims to provide better protection to the occupants and visitors on certain kinds of commercial premises.

Prescribed commercial premises and specified commercial buildings are under the scope of the ordinance.  For the captioned the premise, they are required to update that fire safety construction including means of escape, means of access, fire-resisting construction under the Code of Practice for the Provision of Means of Escape in Case of Fire 1996, Code of Practice for Fire Resisting Construction 1996, Code of Practice for the Provision of Means of Access for Firefighting and Rescue 1995 respectively. Also, the premises required to update fire services installation following Codes of Practice for Minimum Fire Service Installations and Equipment and Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Installations and Equipment 1994 when the total floor area exceeds 230 square meters.

As a building professional to cope with the above issue, a desktop study needs to be conducted first. It is essential to calculate the number/width of the exit door and exit route following the purposed usage of the premises. The comparison of the recorded plan and Fire Safety (Commercial Premises) Ordinance may draw attention to the fire safety deficiencies. The site visit is followed to identify the deficiencies. fire services system always associates with water supplies and electricity. For the aged building, some non-emergency services like electricity will be located in the exit route. However, those non-emergency services did not enclose by FRR materials. It may post a potential fire hazard. Insufficient width of the MOE route, insufficient number of exit routes to the required staircase, presence of the fire shutter in the exit route, absence of exit sign, absence of the exit door, etc are the common scenario for the aged commercial premises to deal with the ordinance. The reasons for the above deficiency can be caused by certain reasons including the change in use, the absence of the fire safety ordinance during the construction period, and unauthorized building works by the owners.

Structural Appraisal to the Loading Case in Yuen Long Premise

When I was an undergraduate in Building Surveying, I learned from many textbooks that the structural design process usually starting with the loading assumption. This assumption is presented by outlining different loading cases. In simplicity terms, some loading cases are what we called UDL while some are point load.

Example of UDL

Example of point Load 

When we deepen the idea of loading further, there are generally three types of load including dead loads, live loads, and wind loads. Dead loads are due to the self-weight of the structure. Live loads consist of all the loads which are designated to be placed on the structure, For example, loads of people and furniture. This live load is strongly correlated to the usage and obviously the heavy-load machine will demand strong live load capacity.  Wind loads generally come from the pressure of wind acting on the structure.

Example of live load, dead load and wind load

In order to ensure safety and health for the built environment, Buildings Authority has enforced the Building (Construction) Regulations under HK CAP 123. There emphasizes the minimum imposed load or live load in our term for different usage. For instance, the distributed load for the domestic floor is designed as 2 kPa while the general restaurants are designed as 4 kPa. The structural design should follow this stipulated requirement to attain compliance.


Drifting down the river, the user of the structure, i.e. the occupier in the premises, may mis-sue or alternate the usage without carefully considering the designated live load. In our many Structural assessments.We noticed the occupier might have over-loaded the structure unintentionally or might have alternated the usage which exceeds the permissible live load.


In the situation like aforesaid said, the structural element itself may exhibit some undue behavior like the development of a huge crack on beam component or deformation. Adversely speaking, it is a very unfavorable observation because the structural damage may cause immutable damage to the elements. Sometimes, immediate propping or secondary support may be required to stop the damaging.

Expert Witness (Construction)

Acting as the “Expert witness” to offer expert opinions to the court is a very meaningful assignment for the building professionals. Nevertheless, the Expert should act impartially to provide his expertise and experience to the matter or direction given by the court.

Sometimes, the court discredits the weighting of expert witness opinion because the expert may cherry-pick on providing the expert analysis on the matters concerned.

”In Dr Chan’s report, he appended a number of “assessment” and “condition survey” reports (Reports) prepared by Wong & Cheng Consulting Engineers Limited (WC) for the Owners prior to the 2015 Order. The assessment/survey reports attached to an expert report were inadmissible on the basis that although leave had been given to adduce the expert report, it had not been given to adduce the assessment/survey reports attached to it. The Court pointed out that expert evidence is not only evidence of opinion, but also factual evidence which goes to an expert issue. ” (Expert reports within expert reports and the need for leave to adduce them – Deacon, 2019)

It is undeniable that the factual evidence and dispute could become the admissible opinion but not only the jargon words. As seasoned experts in the construction field, we adhere to the Code of Practices (COP) and construction standards, therefore we can provide reliable professional advice and expert witness testimony.

Dedicating to the construction assignment of “Expert witness” can showcase our superior knowledge and skill in the construction industry, and can also tackle the deadlock situation and bring to light in court.

Paramount importance is to assist the parties in approaching the fact of matters and hopefully the contesting parties can settle the disputes eventually.

Coring the rock stratum engineering our pile foundation

Site investigation is a term to cover a lot of aspect about the site. For the Engineer in construction site, it means the process to find out the soil and rock condition. From the project management perspective, we see the most essence is whether the quality control system is working well in place . This control system involves sampling , inspection, recording and counter-check. Although the PNAP has imposed a lot of restrains in the site investigation, the entire controlling mechanism still heavily rely on the professional site staff. The sample taken will be inspected the the engineer. This inspection is to be fed back to the Designer to confirm the design assumption of piling coincide well to what happens on site. This is the feedback loop essentially important in the entire QA process.

I witness the coring process and I can say the coring of soil / rock is not a pleasant job. Sometimes, the sample was damaged in the process, sometimes, the sample was dropped in pieces. Thus , a good sampling and coring process did demand patience by labour, right machine set up, on-site engineer inspection and recording.



Senior Citizen Housing display away the stranded podium retail asset

Senior Citizenship house is now calling for de-densitified 

Why the World’s Highest Virus Death Rate Is in Europe’s Capital

Senior Citizen becomes the upset topic of today C -19 prevalence. Many asset managers are looking the way to improve the stranded property for post c-19. GBE noticed the demand for de-densitified the habitation has triggered the call for more Senior Citizenship habitation houses.

In the metropolitan like Hong Kong, the aged population also faces the strong need for sleeping accommodation. The podium floors which are worst hit by declining retails business, is now hot for turning into elderly center. GBE shares with you that the technical constraint in premises for elderly houssuch window provision, headroom, DMC restriction, town planning ,street level entrance for emergency , catering and sanitary provision, supporting facilities, and operation needs. The licensing authority is Social Welfare Department while the law is Residential Care Homes (Elderly Persons) Ordinance.

Paradox of “Area” in Building of Hong Kong

There are a ranges of terms from “Usable Floor Area / space – UFA , “Saleable Area – SA ” , “Gross Floor Area – GFA “, ” Internal Floor Area – IFA” , “Common Area – CA”, “Lettable Area – LA ” and “Construction Floor Area – CFA” to describe and present the “area” of the space in numerical way. The confusion of amongst these terms stems from the different definition of their respective legal context, code of practice and the application. In short, “Usable Floor Area” is originated from Buildings Ordinance for population estimation in a proposed space whereas the Saleable area is for property conveyance in First Hand sale. The “Common Area” is the idea coming from Deed of Mutual Covenant and Building Management Ordinance. On the contrary, “Construction Floor Area” is for construction cost estimation and this area covers also the ceiling and wall face area.

Hong Kong Institute of Surveyor has published the “Code of Measuring Practice” MPracticeCode-199903 (1) There has laid some quick understanding to the “area”.

residential area of the city at dusk,bird’s eye view



Macau Land Law No. 10/2013

In 2015, the Macau government has announced one of the most influential amendment to the land law no 10/2013 . It expressly empowers the government to forfeiture/terminate/revoke of land tenure if there was no development being executed as per the land contract. This becomes very alarming for property investor.

The law permits some excuses for the landlord if they can show the reasons why tenure non-fulfillment persists. Engineering technical reasons are usually considered acceptable if it is convincing.

In 2020, the post-pandemic has caused many asset be evaluated and be available for sale. Property investor must pay enough attention for the effective tenure legitimacy.