In recent years, the systems of building control in many countries were reviewed or reformed. In the revamp processes, greater involvement of the private sector in the building approval exercise was frequently proposed although the duties to ensure the safety standard of building works have long been assumed by the governments. Hong Kong also followed this trend, and a minor works control regime (MCWR) was proposed in 2003 with an aim for streamlining the building proposal approval exercise. Under the proposed regime, private sector practitioners are allowed to certify certain types of small-scale building works. Despite the local government claim that the proposed MCWR could improve the overall building quality in the city, effectiveness of the new system is highly doubtful. This article aims to critically evaluate the proposed private certification initiative. Although new system may be able to speed up the process of building proposal approval, incentives for the citizens to engage in the new process seem not to be installed. Whether there exists a critical mass of qualified professionals in the private sector who are willing to validate existing unauthorized building works is also questionable. More importantly, the subsidiary revalidation scheme under the proposed control regime blurs the boundary between legal and illegal building works.
- Building control
- Building safety
- Hong Kong
- Legalization of illegal building works