Wed, Jun 12, 2013 - Page 4 News List

Taipei to inspect buildings’ ‘health’

HEALTHY HOUSES:The city government is planning to spend NT$4m surveying apartment buildings that are more than 30 years old to promote urban renewal

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

The Taipei City Government will launch a home inspection program next year to identify apartments that are 30 or more years old and in need of maintenance or reconstruction work as part of its bid to promote urban renewal.

The initiative, dubbed the “Old House Health Exam,” will begin in January next year and survey the general structure, fire safety measures and exterior walls of 200 apartment buildings.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday said the inspections were also aimed to address safety concerns in old buildings and the results would serve as a reference for determining which properties need maintenance, renovation or renewal work.

“The ‘health’ of a building, like a person’s, needs to be examined on a regular basis. Through the initiative we want to establish a standard home inspection mechanism and encourage homeowners to conduct regular inspections on their residences,” he said at Taipei City Hall.

According to the Department of Urban Redevelopment, about 70 percent of Taipei’s more than 90,000 buildings are more than 30 years old. Safety inspections cost NT$20,000 per apartment, so the city government will budget NT$4 million (US$134,000) next year to implement the program.

Department Commissioner Ben Tai-ming (邊泰明) said privately owned apartment buildings that are at least 30 years old and at least three stories high will be eligible for the inspection program. However, apartment buildings that are participating in urban renewal projects will be excluded from the program.

Hau touted the inspection program as the city’s latest effort to improve the condition of older buildings and provide more information on proprty conditions for homeowners. He added that the city would not make the inspection results public to protect property owners’ privacy.

Taipei Deputy Mayor Chang Chin-oh (張金鶚), a real-estate expert, dismissed concerns about keeping the results private and insisted that the initiative would ultimately make property conditions more transparent and could help prevent disputes in housing transactions.

“Conducting property inspection is the first step toward building a healthy housing market. Eventually, we want to apply the inspection mechanism to buildings of all ages to offer open and transparent information on properties’ conditions,” he said.

The department will conduct the inspections along with construction associations. After obtaining the inspection results, property owners are encouraged to seek follow-up assistance from the Taipei Urban Renewal Promotion Center or private construction agencies, he said.

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