For consideration
on 13 May 1999

New Control Measures for New Territories Exempted Houses


This paper informs Members of the new control measures for New Territories Exempted Houses (NTEHs).


2. Following the collapse of a balcony at Swallow Garden in Fanling last December, the Director of Buildings conducted an investigation into the case. The investigation has revealed that NTEHs, which are relatively simple in their design and construction, included some critical structural elements which are vital to building safety.

3. In view of this, the Government has formulated new control measures to ensure the structural safety of NTEHs in consultation with the concerned parties, including the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers and the Heung Yee Kuk.

New Control Measures

4. Any person who is given approval by a District Lands Officer to construct an NTEH (e.g. to construct a small house under the Small House Policy or to redevelop a village house) must apply for a Certificate of Exemption pursuant to the Buildings Ordinance (Application to the New Territories) Ordinance (Cap 121) in respect of building, site formation and drainage works of the small house/village house before commencement of those works.

5. In order to ensure the structural safety of NTEHs, the Government has introduced specified technical requirements and included these as requirements in the Certificates of Exemption in respect of building works.

6. A set of the technical requirements is at the Annex. These technical requirements aim to set the standards for the construction of critical structural elements including cantilevered balconies and canopies, long span beams and slabs and foundation footings.

7. Under the new control measures, an applicant is required to appoint a Registered Structural Engineer1 or a Registered Professional Engineer 2 (specializing in civil/structural/building works) to monitor the construction of critical structural elements, and to appoint a T2 competent person3 to supervise the construction of the entire house.

8. Upon completion of the building works, the Registered Structural Engineer/Registered Professional Engineer and the T2 competent person will have to sign a Construction Completion Report. This serves to certify compliance with the technical requirements and the structural safety of the critical structural elements.

9. After receipt of the construction completion report, and upon a subsequent inspection of the house to establish that all other obligations imposed on the applicant (e.g. specific requirements under the land grant conditions) have been fully complied with, the District Lands Officer will issue a certificate of compliance or a letter of no objection to occupy.

10. Construction of an NTEH without any critical structural element does not require monitoring by a Registered Structural Engineer or a Registered Professional Engineer, provided that the foundation of the NTEH complies with certain specifications4 . However, supervision by a T2 competent person for the construction of the entire house is still required.

The Way Forward

11. The new control measures are to be introduced with effect from 8 May 1999. Copies of a pamphlet entitled "Guidelines to Apply for Certificates of Exemption in Construction of New Territories Exempted Houses" and copies of the specified technical requirements are available at District Lands Offices in the New Territories.

Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau
May 1999

1 Registered Structural Engineers are structural engineers registered under the Buildings Ordinance

2Registered Professional Engineers are engineers registered under the Engineers Registration Ordinance.

3A T2 competent person means a person who possesses a higher diploma or higher certificate in a civil/structural/building discipline, awarded by one of the Technical Colleges which are approved and/or recognized by the Vocational Training Council and who has a total relevant working experience of not less than 3 years.

4The specifications for the foundation are that -

  1. the foundation should be a raft type construction;
  2. the foundation should not be less than 375 mm thick;
  3. the foundation should be reinforced in both faces and in both directions. The total cross-sectional area of steel bars provided in either face and in either direction should not be less than 0.85% of the cross-sectional area of the structural concrete; and
  4. the thickness of the concrete cover to outermost reinforcement bars should not be less than 40mm nor greater than 50mm.