SINGAPORE - Starting this month, only certified renovation workers are allowed to carry out demolition works in HDB flats.
To be certified, contractors will have to send their workers for a safety course organised by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) and the Building and Construction Authority (BCA).
HDB said the course was introduced in June last year to train workers to avoid renovation pitfalls which could damage flats.
It said the number of illegal demolition cases has remained low over the years. However, a single incident could affect the stability of an entire building.
So those who want to give their flats a festive makeover, for instance, will now have to check if the proposed demolition works are allowed under government regulations.
For example, structures such as those bolded in black in a floor plan, typically cannot be demolished.
But to the layman, it can be a challenge to tell which structures can be removed.
Mr Wong Kok Hwa, deputy director (maintenance management) at HDB, said: “Most of the flat owners may not be able to recognise which walls are structural walls and cannot be tampered with. So our advice to flat owners is that they have to seek HDB’s approval before they carry out any demolition works.”
HDB said such walls and columns support the building, and removing them may affect the stability of the entire block.
Contractors caught doing so may have their registrations suspended or cancelled, and disqualified for a maximum period of five years.
Flat owners are liable as well, and can be fined up to S$5,000.
Currently, flat owners can only engage contractors registered with HDB for renovation works. They are also required to obtain HDB’s approval for the works.
But there are instances where flat owners miss out on doing so.
Mr Wong said: “For the workers, they are not trained currently. There are situations where flat owners dish out instructions to them directly, and they (the workers), not knowing the dangers of hacking structural walls, then proceed to do so, thereby causing damage to the flat.”
Thus, HDB and BCA came up with a course to educate workers.
The course equips workers with the basic knowledge and skills to safely carry out demolition works during the renovation of HDB flats.
HDB-registered contractors are now required to send their workers involved in demolition work for the course.
HDB said some 600 workers have attended the course so far. CHANNEL NEWSASIA