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Old Building -- Water Leakage

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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jan 2016
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    113

    Old Building -- Water Leakage

    Hi,

    I bought a flat in an old building (55 years old), and fully renovated.
    During the recent typhoon, I saw water leaking in (saw mark at corner of the window).
    I complained to the renovator, and he added "waterproof membrane" surrounding the window area.

    Recently during a somewhat heavy rain, I saw the water leaking again.
    I complained to the renovator once again, and he said it might be because the building structure is weak, probably due to age.

    He brought in a technician (who claims to be authorized by Buildings Department), used "humidity meter" throughout the house, and there are two issues:
    1. There seems to be "unseen" leakage from upstairs. Not-yet-problematic parts of the ceiling have high humidity reading, indicating leakage from upstairs.
    2. In terms of the water leakage from window: because building is not covered with tiles, water can get absorbed through concrete from the building roof, come down and leak through potential weak points of flat wall. (window is adjacent to structural pillar)

    I consulted a bit, and the recommendations were:
    For issue number 1: that is upstairs' responsibility to fix/compensate for damages. If they are not willing to fix it, I can hire surveyor (10-20k), get report, go to court, and force them to fix.
    For issue number 2: I have to talk to management office/incororated owners.

    I have talked to my insurance company, and they said they are able to hire a surveyor for me (I just have to bear 1k of the cost).

    What I am curious is... am I able to "force" the management office/incorporated owners to take any action on weak building structure? I want them to take at least some action (i.e., add waterproof layer to the roof of the building, which doesn't seem to cost much)

    The leakage is not too big (about 100ml water leak per heavy rain) so I suppose I can leave a towel in the corner of the window, but it is surely annoying.

    Last edited by simpsjk; 13-09-2020 at 09:50 AM.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    May 2014
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    Hong Kong
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    400

    How’s the attitude of those involved?
    You get things easier done if they are but with the current economy not many have that extra cash hanging around. Yet there are others just reluctant to do anything.


  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jan 2016
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    113

    Actually, the first step is to get Management Office involved (For both cases...) so I am waiting for their reply.
    I called on Thursday, to get English speaking management office person to get back to me, but no call received yet.

    But I do believe that they will be reluctant to fix it--cost and time wise.


  4. #4

    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    5,160

    You had your lights stolen, then kitchen cabinets were the wrong colour, then you complained about the incense in the common areas, now water leakage*.

    *Short of getting someone to hang out each window with a calking gun to add extra sealant to the window frames, you will be trying to get blood from a stone.

    It is an old building, it will leak from every wall at some point, buy a good dehumidifier!

    drumbrake and angeluscomplex like this.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    Hong Kong
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    It's hard to "force" management to do anything. They may be authorised to make minor repairs - but what you describe does not sound minor and may require Owners Committee / IO approval. You can be sure that the management company aren't going to use their own funds for maintenance!!

    However, it should be within management's job description to liaise and document - and that goes for both internal and external water seepage. They should be getting in touch with upstairs owner regarding your first issue. If you make no progress on this, report it to the FEHD and they will follow up with 'colour testing' but more importantly the official trail of documentation that follows. They should also be getting in touch with the IO/OC regarding your second issue. That said, I would recommend you make your own contact with them: see if they have a WhatsApp group, or at the very least get a few of their contacts. There may be an IO mailbox in your lobby. Definitely do partake in the owners meetings.

    If your building is 55 years old, you should check if the Buildings Department had issued any inspection notices as part of their MBIS - Mandatory Building Inspection Scheme. If so, there should have been an authorised person (Registered Inspector - essentially a PM) overseeing the entire thing. A report should have been compiled. Problems should have been rectified. IO should know about this. Your problem may not have existed at the time, or may have been too minor to affect building structure, but if structural issues do concern you i'd start by looking into this. As an owner you should be concerned, and if the inspection hasn't happened yet, then be prepared for a potentially hefty bill when it happens!

    It's also the case that many Incorporated Owners take a passive attitude and delay delay as much as they can... so it wouldn't surprise me if 5 years late, your building still hasn't completed MBIS. You may do a search here: https://www.bd.gov.hk/en/resources/o...rch/index.html

    Otherwise, specifically for your external seepage, you could get people like Hong Kong Survey Limited (other options available!) to inspect and give a professional report on the issue. This would be if the Incorporated Owners take no action of their own, and will give you the professional document needed to take it further. You can always take everything to Small Claims at the end for the financial reimbursement: but one thing to remember is that it's not only not your responsibility to fix the exterior wall, but you don't want to be liable for even trying to. Ultimately, you can also threaten the IO with neglect by reporting to the Buildings Department, which does entail legal consequences.

    These sorts of things are a pain. I'm facing some ongoing struggles of my own too. Good luck!

    gigglinggal likes this.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    I can't comment on your sucess in forcing building management to take action but will say your renovator is not bs ing you about water channeling down walls from the roof or around windows. Concrete is pourous and a hairline crack anywhere can cause big problems eventually. There are different grades of moisture meters but the price point of a reliable one for your is not even over $100 USD if you want to do some testing yourself. You have to test multiple times to pinpoint location. Sometimes its moisture in your own unit especially for stucco walls. If its really coming from upstairs, you might want to to pinpoint that is under the unit above's restroom. HK apartments have no pipes going through floors so my guess is they have a leaky showerpan and giving the age of the building its not a far fetched idea.

    Last edited by RMDNC; 14-09-2020 at 11:30 AM.

  7. #7

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    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0tAtqi2LPw I have no idea about construction in HK ages ago but my guess is tar paper with maybe some metal flashing.
    This is a more modern method of sealing window openings. Dont rule out your upstairs neigbor has a leaking window and the water channels down the wall cavity. If the moisture issue is year round focus on the showerpan as a source.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by RMDNC:
    HK apartments have no pipes going through floors so my guess is they have a leaky showerpan and giving the age of the building its not a far fetched idea.
    ... not in newer dwellings, but in one 41 year old building I happen to be sitting in now whilst overseeing some work, pipes from each unit do loop through the ceilings below. You can imagine the annoyance this creates whenever a unit above has leaky plumbing. That said, leaking exposed pipes are at least obvious. Unfortunately it's the seepage through concrete that is a pain: for that the colour tests which FEHD do are very useful as the leaks can then be traced back to a source.
    RMDNC likes this.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by RMDNC:
    HK apartments have no pipes going through floors so my guess is they have a leaky showerpan and giving the age of the building its not a far fetched idea.
    Actually its very common for the copper pipes to be cut into a channel in the floors and covered over with cement/tiles. Makes finding a leak very difficult.

    Also theres no "wall cavity" in the exterior walls of HK apartments. They are typically solid concrete with reinforced steel.
    RMDNC likes this.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jan 2016
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    113
    Quote Originally Posted by emx:
    You had your lights stolen, then kitchen cabinets were the wrong colour, then you complained about the incense in the common areas, now water leakage*.

    *Short of getting someone to hang out each window with a calking gun to add extra sealant to the window frames, you will be trying to get blood from a stone.

    It is an old building, it will leak from every wall at some point, buy a good dehumidifier!

    Must say not a great first month of living.
    Lights stolen - cannot do anything.
    Cabinet color - settled with renovator
    incense - I found other type of 3M sealant that prevents smell coming in. But if it gets weak, I will take care of "it"
    water leakage.... seems to be the toughest to solve.

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