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LCQ7: Service life of building structures of public rental housing
     Following is a question by the Hon Lau Kwok-fan and a written reply by the Secretary for Housing, Ms Winnie Ho, in the Legislative Council today (December 7):
     The Planning, Design, and Delivery of Quality Public Housing in the New Millennium published in 2011 by the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) has pointed out that according to the outcomes of the HA commissioned study conducted by a local university team, the service life of building structures of HA's public rental housing (PRH) completed after 1992 is at least 100 years. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the number of PRH units completed in each year from 1992 to 2002, with a breakdown by the name of PRH estates and the name of buildings;
(2) of the university and faculty to which the university team conducting the aforesaid study belonged, as well as the scholar(s) taking the lead (if applicable); the PRH estates studied by the team and the number of units involved;
(3) whether studies have been conducted on the management as well as repair and maintenance requirements to be met by the buildings of PRH estates (e.g. an inspection or large-scale structural maintenance works has to be conducted at intervals of certain years) in order to achieve the service life of at least 100 years;
(4) whether the HA has commissioned any independent third party again to conduct similar studies on building structures since 2011; if so, of the details of the study outcomes; if not, whether the HA has plans to commission an independent third party to conduct similar studies again; and
(5) as there are views that construction costs may have an impact on the service life of building structures, whether the Government has conducted relevant studies, and the construction costs of the units in new PRH estates completed in each of the past five financial years?
     My reply to the question raised by the Hon Lau Kwok-fan is as follows:

(1) Building information of the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA)’s public rental housing (PRH) with flat intake from 1992 to 2002 is at Annex 1.

(2) According to HA’s housing design standards, we have sufficient reasons to believe that the building structure of PRH blocks completed after 1992 should have a service life of at least 50 years. Nonetheless, in 2009, the HA commissioned PolyU Technology and Consultancy Company Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, to conduct a study on the structure of PRH blocks completed after 1992 with a view to evaluating the service performance of the relevant building structures under actual environmental conditions in order to explore their expected service life.

     The objective of the study was to assess the expected service life of the PRH building structure as a whole instead of focusing on the building quality of individual PRH units. The consultancy company selected eight sample blocks of the common estate types, covering different time of completion and geographical locations (such as those built on hills, on flat ground or near the seaside) of the post-1992 PRH for a representative study. Scope of the study included domestic floors, roofs, common spaces such as corridors, stairs and exterior walls.

(3) & (4) The study report pointed out that the current daily maintenance provided by the HA for PRH is sufficient to allow the PRH covered by the study to achieve an expected service life of about 100 years. In fact, the HA has all along been following the latest regulations of the construction industry, including the Code of Practice for Site Supervision 2009 published by the Buildings Department in 2009 and the Code of Practice for Structural Use of Concrete 2013 implemented in 2013, to improve, optimise, upgrade and strengthen the site monitoring and structural design of PRH buildings, increasing the usage of prefabricated component technology, to improve the building construction quality and its expected service life.

     At the same time, the HA maintains structural integrity of the PRH buildings through various maintenance and improvement programmes, including Total Maintenance Scheme, Comprehensive Structural Investigation Programme, Responsive In-flat Maintenance Services and Estate Improvement Programme.

     Therefore, the HA considers that it is not necessary to engage an independent third party to conduct another similar study.

(5) The HA has always been attaching great importance to safety in public housing development, and has adopted strict specification and supervision requirements. Generally speaking, construction costs largely depend on factors such as the number of projects and their scale, geographical environment, associated facilities and constraints. From 2016-17 to 2020-21, the average construction cost per PRH/Green Form Subsidised Home Ownership Scheme flat based on the cost of building tenders approved by the HA is set out at Annex 2.
Ends/Wednesday, December 7, 2022
Issued at HKT 16:37
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