It didn’t surprise me that an apartment owner redesigned the home by removing a structural wall. The owner was dicing with death by doing that but likely didn’t know the danger of removing the wall. Structural walls transfer the weight of a structure to the foundation. What surprised me was the government found out only after pictures of the redesigned flat appeared on social media. This was not an isolated case. I have seen numerous apartments being renovated when I lived in Hong Kong. I have been inside some with structural walls removed.
Hong Kong should thank its lucky stars there have only been isolated cases of homes collapsing because of unsafe renovation. To dice with death means to take serious risks. To thank your lucky stars means to be grateful for something because the situation could have been much worse. The government asked the flat owner to rebuild the wall within 30 days. The government should have imposed a heavy fine. Surveyors say the incident was only the tip of the iceberg. They say additions to rooftops are also illegal and could be dangerous, but such additions are common in Hong Kong.
In New York, where I lived for many months last winter, renovation rules are very tough. A building’s top management must approve the renovation. Apartment owners must hire an architect to supervise the renovation. When the renovation is finished, the architect must show the apartment to a government official. New York City is like Hong Kong. It has 8.5 million people with many high-rise apartment buildings. The Hong Kong government cannot say tougher renovation rules are impossible.
有一個單位業主重新設計家居，把主力牆拆了，對此我並不感到意外。那位業主這樣做是在玩命（dicing with death），但也很可能不知道拆牆的危險。主力牆是將一幢建築的重量轉移至根基。令我意外的是，只有當那個裝修單位的圖片出現在社交媒體上之後，政府才發現事件。這並非個別事件，我住在香港的時候，見過無數的單位翻新，也曾去過當中一些單位，也是拆除了主力牆的。
香港好應慶幸自己運氣夠好（thank its lucky stars），只有個別一些居所因為不安全的修葺而倒塌。To dice with death是指去冒着生命危險去做。To thank your lucky stars即是謝天謝地、慶幸自己有吉星高照，因為情況可以更糟。政府要求單位業主於三十天內重建該牆。但其實政府好應罰重款。測量師直言，這宗事件只是冰山一角，他們說，在天台僭建也是非法和構成危險的，但在香港，這樣的僭建很常見。