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On the proposed private certification of building works in Hong Kong

Yung Yau (Department of Public and Social Administration, City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong)

International Journal of Law in the Built Environment

ISSN: 1756-1450

Article publication date: 2 October 2009




The responsibility for ensuring the safety and standard of building works in Hong Kong has long rested with the government. In 2003, the government proposed a new control regime to streamline the process of building proposal approval by allowing private‐sector practitioners to certify certain types of minor building works. The purpose of this paper is to consider the likely effectiveness of the proposed regime by examining the views of local building professionals.


Following an overview of the government's initiative in private certification of building works, a literature review is conducted to collate the collective views of the local professional institutions about the proposals. A total of 90 local architects, building surveyors and structural engineers in the private and public sectors are then interviewed using a structured questionnaire.


The proposed regime is generally perceived as having the capacity to speed up the process of building proposal approval whilst also improving overall standards of building performance in Hong Kong. Concerns are however expressed about the clarity of the definition of minor works, and about the level of professional competence of the private certifiers. The respondents also expressed further general concern over the adequacy of government support offered to the private certifiers under the proposed system.

Research limitations/implications

Stakeholders of the proposed minor works regime are not confined to building professionals such as architects, engineers and building surveyors, but also include contractors and the general public as a whole. Owing to limited resources, only the views of the local building professionals are solicited.

Practical implications

The findings of this study provide valuable insights for public administrators into the design and subsequent operation of the new regime. They will also assist the Hong Kong Government in making more informed decisions about the future streamlining of the building control system without, at the same time, sacrificing the overall building safety of the city.


This is the first published study on the views of building professionals from different professional backgrounds on the proposed private certification regime.



Yau, Y. (2009), "On the proposed private certification of building works in Hong Kong", International Journal of Law in the Built Environment, Vol. 1 No. 3, pp. 221-233.



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