Singapore – The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) announced that the new Periodic Facade Inspection (PFI) regime will take effect from 1 January 2022. The regulation is aimed at helping building owners detect and address facade deterioration in a timely manner.
Responsible parties, such as building owners, Town Councils and management corporations, have a duty to ensure that building exteriors are properly maintained. Under the new PFI regime, facade inspections will need to be conducted every seven years for buildings that are more than 13 metres tall, once they are over 20 years old. Landed houses and temporary buildings are exempted from these requirements. Responsible parties must appoint a Competent Person (that is Professional Engineer or Registered Architect with a Certificate in Facade Inspection), who can be assisted by a Facade Inspector (FI), to conduct the facade inspections. The Competent Person will need to propose appropriate rectification works if deterioration is detected. Responsible parties must ensure that these works are carried out within a period specified by BCA.
BCA has conducted two rounds of public consultations and more than 20 engagement sessions with building owners, Town Councils, management corporations and industry professionals to gather feedback on the new requirements. Overall, the industry is supportive of the new PFI regime.
BCA has also received feedback from responsible parties and will implement initiatives to help them adapt to the new PFI regime. For example, BCA will issue advisories to responsible parties at least one year before their building is due for inspection. This will provide responsible parties with ample time to plan for the inspection. Responsible parties may consider scheduling their Repair and Redecoration (R&R) works or external building maintenance works to coincide with the PFI, which may allow for cost savings.
BCA has also issued a set of PFI guidelines as reference for Competent Persons and Facade Inspectors carrying out facade inspections. A copy of the PFI guidelines can be found at https://go.gov.sg/pfi-guidelines.
Leveraging technology to conduct PFIs
As part of the ongoing transformation efforts for the Built Environment sector, BCA has been encouraging the use of available technologies to increase productivity and efficiency. When conducting facade inspections, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), also known as drones, can be used to assist the Competent Person in performing the visual inspection. The usage of drones makes facade inspections safer, more efficient and less labour intensive.
Together with industry stakeholders, BCA has developed the world’s first Technical Reference on using drones to conduct building facade inspections under the Singapore Standardisation Programme administered by Enterprise Singapore. The Technical Reference, titled TR78:2020, provides a set of specifications and good practices when using drones to conduct building facade inspections such as giving at least 3 days of notice with details of the inspection to building occupants, how images or video recordings taken during facade inspections using drones should be handled, as well as the implementation of systems and processes to prevent any unauthorised usage of images and footages captured.
Responsible parties and drone service providers should put in place such systems and processes to safeguard data privacy. For example, images of residents captured during facade inspection should undergo anonymisation through masking using a masking software or by other methods to render them unidentifiable.
Raising capabilities of personnel conducting PFIs
About 30,000 buildings will be required to undergo facade inspection within the first seven-year inspection cycle. To ensure that there are sufficient skilled persons to conduct facade inspections, BCA has worked with the industry to develop and implement a mandatory training course – “Certificate in Façade Inspection”. The course equips participants with the essential knowledge and skills required to conduct facade inspections. The course is offered by the BCA Academy and the Institution of Engineers Singapore Academy. As of September 2021, there are 149 Competent Persons and 140 registered Facade Inspectors.