A flat is an asset of its owner. The Common Law stipulates the responsibility of owners to carry out maintenance works for their buildings. As the proverb goes, ‘prevention is better than cure’. The Government and the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) attach great importance to building rehabilitation works, with owners encouraged to nip predicaments in the bud by carrying out early and regular ‘inspection’ and arrange for ‘preventive maintenance’ to maintain their buildings and facilities in good condition. A ‘maintenance cycle’ for the building is also recommended to keep track of the maintenance works for future reference and follow-up.
According to British-Adopted European Standard BS EN 13306:2017 (Maintenance – Maintenance Terminology), ‘preventive maintenance’ is intended to assess and reduce the probability of failure or the degradation of the functioning of an item (building element). As opposed to the ‘corrective maintenance’ which targets detected faults, ‘preventive maintenance’ is one of the strategies to prevent failure in building elements, facilities and systems by means of regular and appropriate inspections and repair initiatives.
At present, maintenance works of buildings in old districts in Hong Kong are largely corrective in nature, where actions are often deferred to the point that owners are obliged to do as stipulated in the repair order issued by the Building Authority (BA) pursuant to the prescribed repairs in respect of their buildings. When building maintenance is neglected, a ‘vicious cycle’ occurs in that, as the condition of the building spirals down, the scope of maintenance and its cost increase beyond affordability, thus the willingness of owners to bear the responsibility further dampened.
To formulate long-term and visionary strategies and execution plans for building rehabilitation, the URA is conducting the Building Rehabilitation Strategy (BRS) study to gauge the conditions of different types of buildings at different stages of the ‘life cycle’. The BRS study will also review relevant laws and regulations on ‘preventive maintenance’ to propose supportive intervention to help owners cope with difficulties in relation to building maintenance works, as well as recommend best practices on ‘preventive maintenance’ while reviewing the roles of stakeholders in long-term building rehabilitation strategies, all done with reference to relevant policies, strategies and regulatory frameworks of other countries and regions.