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Thread: Grille expectations at condos

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    Default Grille expectations at condos


    [B][SIZE=5]Grille expectations at condos[/SIZE][/B]

    [B]BCA to remind condo managements to allow grilles for safety, but designs need approval[/B]

    Published on Feb 1, 2015 1:28 AM

    By Yeo Sam Jo

    The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) will send a notice to management corporations (MCs) reminding them that home owners should not be stopped from installing grilles to prevent harm to children.

    This was revealed in a letter sent to The Sunday Times, in response to several readers writing in to complain about their grille woes.

    But residents still have to first get approval from their MCs on the design of the grille.

    And this could lead to rejections, hassle and unwanted delays, several condo owners said, calling for a faster and easier process.

    One solution, said Mr Chan Kok Hong, president of the Association of Strata Managers, could be to make all developers and architects come up with grille designs from the get-go.

    "Once imposed by them, there won't be issues with how the grilles affect the look of the building."

    The problem that some residents face was highlighted when Dr Sujit Singh Gill was forced to turn to the Strata Titles Boards (STB) after the MC of One North Residences (ONR) twice rejected his grille plans.

    Last month, the STB ruled he had every right to install the grilles at his 13th-floor unit to protect his two young children if they climb the waist-high balcony glass wall.

    In the wake of the ruling, the condo's MC wrote to The Straits Times Forum Page to say it had already suggested other safety measures, like installing grilles inside the sliding balcony doors. There was also a "sunken concrete box area" in front of the balcony wall which cannot be easily crossed.

    When asked if these were enough to guarantee a child's safety, a spokesman for the MC told The Sunday Times: "Parental supervision is important as well."

    She added that the MC did not consider external balcony grille designs because they would mar the facade's look and obstruct maintenance.

    "The entire design, facade and structure of ONR is intended to project an open and fenceless ambience... Many owners view ONR as a unique development."

    Dr Singh told The Sunday Times that installing the grilles inside was a "completely unsatisfactory" solution, as his family would not be able to use the balcony.

    He added that the planter box ran along only one side of his balcony, and that the balcony's glass barriers rest on a ledge which a child can still stand on.

    In the past two years, the BCA received feedback on nine cases in which developers or MCs rejected requests by unit owners to install grilles for their windows or balconies. In that time, the STB heard one case - Dr Singh's.

    Some residents do not want to take the risk of waiting.

    Housewife Estella Young, 36, was told by Park East Condominium's management two years ago that she could not install external balcony grilles.

    "It's quite nerve-racking for parents," said Ms Young, whose son, now three, had just started to walk then.

    She settled for grilles on the inside of her balcony doors instead.

    Sales automation director Christina Teng, 45, also ran into obstacles at The Esta at Amber Gardens, where she lives.

    She installed invisible grilles at her 19th-floor balcony last September after receiving approval from the condo's managing agent.

    But after another agent took over in November, she was told that her grilles were not sanctioned.

    It was finally decided at the condo's annual general meeting yesterday that Ms Teng could keep her grilles, and other residents now have to follow a similar design.

    But the mother of a 16-month-old son said: "I invested a lot of my time, effort and money into this. It's frustrating.

    "I only have a simple request - to make my living space safer."

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    We refer to the articles and letters on the installation of safety grilles for condominium windows and balconies that were published in The Straits Times.

    Under the prescribed by-law of the Building Maintenance (Strata Management) Regulations 2005, a Subsidiary Proprietor (SP) or owner of an individual unit shall not be prevented from installing any locking or other safety device/structure to improve safety within that unit, or any safety features to prevent harm to children. This includes the installation of safety grilles at the balcony.

    To address residents' safety concerns and ensure uniformity in the appearance of safety devices or structures with the rest of the building, the Management Corporation Strata Title (MCST) should set design guidelines for the installation of such features. These design guidelines should then be passed as a by-law at a general meeting so as to bind the MCST and all SPs/tenants. All SPs/tenants must ensure that such installations are consistent with the design guidelines by-law.

    The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) issued a circular "Installation of Additional Safety Barrier/Grille at Balcony of a Lot" in 2013 to all MCSTs to remind them of (1) the above prescribed by-law that the owner of an individual unit shall not be prevented from installing any device/structure that prevents harm to children and (2) the need to set the design guidelines for such devices/structures for their development to address the issue of uniformity of appearance of such structures with the rest of the building. To further heighten awareness about this, we will send another circular to all MCSTs and continue to raise this issue to the MCSTs whom we meet periodically through our dialogues.

    [B]Chin Chi Leong
    Commissioner of Buildings
    Group Director, Building Plan and Management
    Building and Construction Authority[/B]

  2. #2
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    strongly agreed! safety is top priority, no question asked!

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    I find it strange that MC sometimes object to ground floor units having awnings in their patio area to prevent litter in the compound which could be dangerous.

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