Taiwan's location in an active seismic zone means that building safety is a vital concern, and as the island's aging buildings increase in number and proportion, their ability to withstand earthquakes has become more pressing than ever. To provide a safe and secure environment for residents, the Executive Yuan on March 29, 2018 passed draft amendments to the Building Act, seeking to ensure the design and construction quality of new structures while shoring up the safety of existing ones.
Main points of proposed amendments
♦ Three levels of controls to ensure new building construction quality
1. Consolidate design reviews: For buildings of a certain size, the building's structure, fire evacuation design and other safety features should be inspected by third-party professionals.
2. Step up construction inspections: For buildings of a certain size, the construction quality should be inspected and approved by third-party professionals before construction can continue.
3. Conduct acceptance checks: For buildings of a certain size, the physical site should be inspected and approved by third-party professionals before a usage license is issued.
♦ Quake-resistance improvements mandated for existing buildings
Quake-resistance assessments and inspections should be mandated for all privately owned, public-use buildings (hotels, department stores, movie theaters and the like) with total floor space of at least 1,000 square meters and whose construction licenses were issued prior to December 31, 1999. Buildings that fail to make the necessary improvements will be fined NT$60,000 to NT$300,000 (US$2,045 to US$10,225), and may face repeated fines.
♦ Licenses required for all compliant buildings
Where a public-use building was constructed prior to the implementation of building codes, and the building is of a certain size and designed for specific activities, a penalty will be assessed if the building is already in business operation but has failed to obtain the legally required usage license.