Building laws need larger scope

I read with interest the report “‘Proxy wars’ in condos” (June 11).

As many Singaporeans now reside in strata title homes, including those hived off from public housing, it is timely that the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is reviewing the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act. This should include enlarging the scope of duties carried out by the Strata Titles Board.

For a start, it should hear cases between management councils and developers, besides hearing only cases between residents and councils.

This would free the courts for major cases that would develop the legal fraternity and Singapore as an arbitration hub, rather than be constrained by such domestic issues.

Before a development is allowed, architects are required to seek approval from the BCA. In turn, it requires the building plans to be submitted to the Fire Safety Bureau, the sewerage and drainage departments and other authorities for approval of aspects of building design of which the BCA is not the sole authority.

As the coordinating body for the final approval of building works, it could thus intervene to get sub-standard works rectified before a Temporary Occupation Permit is issued.

If ancillary works, such as swimming pools, tennis and squash courts, car park wash bays, gymnasiums and playgrounds could be sanctioned, then arbitration, if any, would be kept to a minimum.

Ancillary works that are often defective are found mostly in common areas that do not require the BCA’s approval. This is where home owners are at the short end of the stick.

Management councils now use the maintenance fund to obtain legal redress against developers that provide these sub-standard works.

This could be made unnecessary by requiring developers to obtain approval for ancillary works, too.

It is time-consuming, costly and not right to use maintenance funds to seek legal redress.

from Gilbert Tan Hee Khian

Source : Today – 2012 Jun 18

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