Tighter rules on building facades soon
New rules may require regular full-scale inspections of building facades
The Government is preparing to impose tighter rules on building facades that will include requiring building managers to conduct regular inspections on windows, cladding and other external features.
Industry players told The Straits Times that they are now preparing for a new legislative framework that will require regular full-scale visual inspections as well as close-up inspections of facades.
Visual inspections involve the use of binoculars or aerial drones, while close-up inspections will require a qualified person to oversee inspection of facade issues.
The proposed rules were discussed at the Glasstech Asia and Fenestration Asia 2017 conferences held last week at Marina Bay Sands, and a course to certify "facade inspectors" - a class of qualified persons thus far unheard of in the industry - was recently started at the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) Academy.
Currently, there is no legal requirement for building managers to inspect their building's envelope for flaws, defects and wear - a situation the managers said led to cases of buildings that have facades in dire need of repair or replacement.
In recent months, there have been a string of cases where cladding or other exterior features failed or fell off buildings.
When contacted, BCA confirmed it is reviewing the regulatory framework for the inspection of building facades to enhance public and building safety.
It also acknowledged that it started a course in July to "raise knowledge and capability on facade inspection".
While the new legislation is yet to be announced, many building managers said they would welcome stricter regulation.
They noted that too many owners and managers take shortcuts because the rules hold owners liable only in the event of accidents - such as a panel falling on a passer-by.
Singapore Glass Association chairman Gan Geok Chua said that nearly all recent cases of failing facades - falling glass panels or concrete features - could have been prevented had there been a proper inspection routine.
He said some building managers or owners are desperate enough to take these risks because it costs money to frequently identify and resolve facade issues.
DP Architects technical director Mathieu Meur, who conducts the new BCA facade inspection course, agreed that the current practice leaves much to be desired.
"The general attitude (today) is to wait for something to happen before calling in someone to inspect and fix the problem," he said.
"The new regulations aim to correct this situation by making regular inspections of the facade compulsory."