Forum: Ensure contractors are also responsible for obtaining approval before erecting structures

As an architect, I have observed that there are many detached houses all over Singapore with unauthorized works that do not comply with the envelope control guidelines of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), in particular the coverage of approved open roof terraces.

I was approached for advice by a friend, a home owner who received an enforcement letter from the URA asking him to remove a steel framed glass roof structure over the deck from the open roof of the car porch after a neighbor apparently complained.

The owner had hired a contractor who carried out the work but had not hired an architect or engineer to seek the necessary approval before erecting the roof structure, perhaps knowing that such requests would not be URA approved.

The contractor erected the roof structure, collected payment and continued operations.

It is common for contractors to make a quick deal and leave the homeowner as the party who faces enforcement action from the proper authorities because the work is done without the necessary approval.

But should the contractor or the owner be punished?

These cases are not limited only to the construction of structures for landed houses.

Another example would be contractors installing solar or photovoltaic panels on rooftops. The installation of photovoltaic panels is regulated by the Singapore Civil Defense Force (SCDF) and has requirements set out in the Fire Code 2018.

Some of these contractors may not hire architects or engineers to apply to SCDF for their facilities as they suspect that there may be too many challenges on the existing property to receive approval without changes to building structures. existing building. They are just installing their photovoltaic panels.

Authorities may have code requirements in place to protect building occupants, but there appear to be gaps in the implementation of these requirements due to insufficient public awareness and failure to guide enforcement action towards the party that erected the unauthorized structures without the approval of the relevant agencies.

Members of the public should be advised that approval must be obtained prior to the implementation of any construction work. Parties erecting building structures should also be held accountable as a second line of defense to ensure work is approved before it is erected, otherwise they risk being accused of ‘encouraging’ the building. owner to erect unauthorized structures.

Raymond Tan Eng Teik

Melvin B. Baillie