Evaluating unauthorized appendages in private apartment buildings

Daniel Chi Wing HO, Kwong Wing CHAU, Yung YAU

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Hong Kong is a densely populated city where high-rise buildings are common. In such an environment, building failures can pose a serious threat. Unauthorized building works, which are constructed without prior approval and consent from the government, are responsible for certain building-related accidents. In particular, those unauthorized building works attached to the external envelopes of buildings endanger the lives not only of their occupants, but also of passers-by and they cause damage to properties themselves. An overview of the proliferation of unauthorized building works in Hong Kong is provided followed by the first known empirical study on this topic. After inspecting 323 apartment buildings in two districts, the factors affecting the proliferation of unauthorized building works were analysed. It was found that buildings with amenities incorporated into their designs generally had fewer unauthorized building works on their external envelopes. However, owners associations or property management companies did not have any influence on unauthorized building work numbers for their buildings. These findings have far-reaching implications on the formulation of government policies for building safety. The formation of statutory owners associations or the engagement of property management companies is not effective in containing the unauthorized building work problems in Hong Kong. Community education and stricter law enforcement would be more effective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-579
Number of pages12
JournalBuilding Research and Information
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by the Research Grant Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) (Grant Nos HKU 7107/04E and HKU 7131/05E), the Small Project Funding of The University of Hong Kong, and the HKU Research Group on Sustainable Cities Seed Grant, which made this research possible. They would also like to thank the Buildings Department, Home Affairs Department of the Government of the Hong Kong SAR for their kindly provision of information and support for the study.


  • Apartment buildings
  • Building safety
  • Governance
  • Hong Kong
  • Residential buildings
  • Unauthorized appendages
  • Unauthorized building works


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