Thursday, August 27, 2009

China orders developers of new housing to do safety checks

They must also produce certificate guaranteeing their apartments' quality

(BEIJING) Two months after an under-construction residential high-rise toppled over in the city's Minhang district, developers are being ordered to carry out mandatory safety checks in future on all newly built apartments.

China's Xinhua news agency reported yesterday that the regulation will take effect from Oct 1 and compel developers to check on the appearance, function and overall quality of apartments as well as the structural integrity of their buildings.

Shanghai's municipal bureau of social housing and building will also require developers to produce a certificate guaranteeing the quality of their apartments.

If home builders fail to comply, buyers can refuse to pay for units. The authorities also can hand out fines and even create fault records for uncooperative developers, the regulation says.

Under current laws, developers are required to inspect only a few rooms before selling units.

The rules are aimed at ending shoddy workmanship in the construction industry, but some industry insiders are already predicting problems with the legislation.

'How can people be their own judges? It is obviously problematic for developers to conduct quality checks on buildings that they constructed,' Du Yueping, a real estate lawyer in Shanghai, was quoted as saying by China Daily yesterday. 'Supervisors cannot be credible either because they are paid by the developers. The government should find an independent third-party.'

The lack of independent and effective supervision was cited as one of the reasons why the 13-floor building collapsed on June 27 in the Lotus Riverside residential complex in Shanghai, killing one worker.

An investigation revealed that the building's foundations had been undermined by a combination of soil piled 10m high on one side of the structure and the digging of a 4.6m underground car garage on the other.

Seven people who oversaw the project have been arrested for their alleged roles in the incident.

The collapse of the Lotus building was not the first major accident to blight Shanghai's construction industry in recent months. The pit at an expansion project at the Southern Hotel, just 1.5km away, caved in on July 2 during heavy rainfall, possibly undermining nearby residential blocks.

And on July 7, the collapse of a construction pit at the site of a planned building in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, is believed to have caused massive cracks on nearby residential buildings.

While the new regulations have limitations, they are a move in the right direction, Mr Du said.

'The regulation is positive in that it makes it clearer that developers are responsible for quality problems in every apartment they build,' he said. -- Bernama

Source: Business Times, 27 Aug 2009

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