Renovation Risks: Know These 5 Things Before Renovating Your Home

Posted: Jun 30 2023Last Updated: Jun 30 2023

Renovations for a Hong Kong apartment are an investment that can enhance home interiors and provide an opportunity to increase the build quality and one’s property value using the latest home technology and materials. When done properly, a well-executed renovation with beautiful interiors will give your long-lasting peace of mind and enjoyment without compromising design and safety.

Keep in mind that in any home renovation, it’s important to manage both your budget and the appropriate legal requirements. When combined with minimizing disruptions to the stated project timeline and getting appropriate approvals, a successful home renovation can preserve the property's structural integrity and increase the property’s value. Careful research and consultation with professionals will help make for a successful renovation project.

Consider these 5 important factors before you initiate a renovation.

#1 Avoid Structural Damage

Renovations may require alterations within the walls, extensions, or combining rooms through newly erected doors. The location of a door or window, or any interior decoration, should not disturb the foundation or load-bearing columns in order to avoid structural damage. Failing to follow safe and optimal construction design modules will result in substandard results in the final renovation, and potentially detract from your property’s value in the event of a future sale.

Ensure that home renovations do not disturb key electric wires, cables, drainage, or any centralized pipes running under the wall by working closely with a licensed professional. Architectural or technical drawings such as floor plans, elevations or section plans can provide plumbing and electrical information pertinent to issues such as the size of the build, wall thicknesses and window size, and help the contractor avoid unforeseen issues during construction.

#2 Protection of Load-Bearing Wall and Partition Wall

The protection of load-bearing walls is directly related to the safety of the entire building since it maintains the structural integrity of the building. The primary function of the load- bearing wall is to withstand the weight of the structure above and below and transfer load stress effectively.

Do not allow any kind of alteration or renovation work in and around a load bearing structure. The building authorities in Hong Kong have ruled out any chance of complete restoration of modified load-bearing walls in a flat; any tampering or damage can permanently disrupt the central design of the building.

This can prove catastrophic to people residing in the building. Damages to your neighbor's property can also end in legal liability and compensation. Hence, the renovation of your home should be under the guidance of experts with qualified experience. An authorized person and structural engineers must submit the Alterations and Additions (A&A) form to the Buildings Department and get approvals and consent to ensure that such removals are structurally feasible.

#3 Careful Implementation of Building Regulations

Obtaining proper permits and/or approvals from the building authorities is crucial to ensuring a smooth renovation. In addition to the A&A application, some works require a licensed or registered person to approve changes, such as:

  • Minor Works Control System: A prescribed building professional or contractor may need to be appointed to prepare and sign prescribed plans to carry out small-scale building works safely and lawfully, such as window replacement work, installation of exterior air conditioning unit, removal and installation of a staircase and even construction of brick walls within an apartment etc.

  • Construction Waste Disposal Charging Scheme: Construction waste producers are required to open a billing account with the Environmental Protection Department before using designated waste disposal facilities and pay the appropriate charges for disposal of their construction waste.

It is essential to get proper permissions from the concerned authorities by submitting a fully furnished blueprint of your proposed work under the guidance of a qualified construction expert to avoid disturbing neighbors or public spaces and potential lawsuits.

#4 Building Structure Insurance

Renovation works carry risks due to accidents and complications, which may lead to prohibitive expenses if they result in structural damage to your property or neighboring properties. Such incidents may warrant immediate compensation from third parties like your neighbors, community, or government organizations.

The financial risks involved in renovations can be mitigated by opting for flexible and comprehensive coverage for homeowners or occupants. Insurance plans come with flexible offerings, from covering the damages of the material to covering compensation to third parties in case of damage or any mishap. It is advisable to have a thorough consultation prior to any renovation project.

#5 Effective Communication

Renovations may involve complex ground research, execution, and time. On average, it takes 3-6 months to complete a home renovation. The span may vary depending on the size, complexity, and needs. The interior renovation may generate noise, dust, vibrations, and even create hygiene and health problems. This can cause disturbance to neighbors. Therefore, owners must inform the Owners' Corporation "OCs" or other related parties.

Home renovations involving large-scale renovation works, and the use of mechanical equipment, will be subject to the control of the Noise Control Ordinance, section 6. The Ordinance stipulates that no one can use powered mechanical equipment for the purpose of carrying out construction work other than percussive piling between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. Violators will be guilty of an offense. However, it is permissible to use portable mechanical equipment for small-scale projects. This is only subject to the general "residential noise" of Section 4, so the time limit is more relaxed. It is not illegal so long as it is completed before 11:00 pm. Ensure that key stakeholders are communicating frequently during the renovation.


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