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Window FAQs

1. What is the main cause of windows falling?
2. How can we prevent windows from falling?
3. Who is responsible for maintaining windows?
4. Who is liable if a window falls and injures someone?
5. What is the window legislation that was made effective from 1 October 2004?
6. Am I affected by the window retrofitting order?
7. Do I have to retrofit my windows every 5 years?
8. If I have retrofitted my windows before 1 October 2004, do I have to retrofit my windows again?
9. If I am not affected by the retrofitting order (e.g. your windows are of sliding-type, your contractor has advised that your windows are not fitted with aluminium rivets), must I submit any report to BCA (or HDB)?
10. What should I do if I am affected by the retrofitting order?
11. Will I be given any documentary proof of the retrofitting work done by the approved window contractor after the rivet replacement work?
12. The contractor which I have engaged proposes that I change other parts of the windows. Must I change them?
13. What is the cost of retrofitting the windows?
14. After I have retrofitted the windows, does it mean that I no longer need to worry about the safety of my windows?
15. If I have retrofitted my windows and the windows still fall, will I be penalised?
16. Can you explain what is in Section 9 of the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act about?
17. Who should check windows regularly to ensure that they are safe? Is it compulsory for homeowners to engage a trained window contractor to check their windows, or can they do it themselves?
18. How do I check whether my windows are safe? Can HDB help homeowners to check whether their windows are safe?
19. Why should I pay to retrofit my windows to meet prevailing standards when they were installed by HDB?
20. Does HDB follow any minimum safety standards when it installs windows in HDB flats? Why did HDB install casement windows using aluminium rivets?
21. Will HDB provide any help if I am unable to pay for the rivet replacement works?
22. As HDB had approved the contractors to carry out window renovations, shouldn�t HDB also be responsible for the installed windows?
23. What can I do if my windows are installed with aluminium rivets? Can HDB change the rivets to stainless steel ones?

1.
What is the main cause of windows falling?
 

Investigations show that about 80% of the fallen windows were casement windows. The majority of them had fallen due to corrosion of the aluminum rivets holding the friction stays, as well as a result of wear and tear over time. Besides maintenance and rough handling, the other possible causes are poor design and workmanship.

2.
How can we prevent windows from falling?
 

Windows are subject to wear and tear because homeowners open and close them daily. Homeowners must check their windows regularly, and repair them if they are loose, to ensure that their windows are always safe and secure.

3.
Who is responsible for maintaining windows?
 

It is the homeowner's responsibility to check and maintain his windows regularly to ensure they are safe.

4.
Who is liable if a window falls and injures someone?
 

The homeowners may be held liable if a window in their unit falls, as it is their responsibility to ensure that their windows are maintained in good condition.

5.
What is the window legislation that was made effective from 1 October 2004?
 

The 2 key requirements in the window legislation that was made effective from 1 October 2004 are:

1. Installation of Windows

Any person who wishes to install/repair windows must engage an approved window contractor to undertake the work.

2. Retrofitting of Casement Windows

Aluminium rivets fitted on the geometry stays (commonly known as friction stays) of casement windows in residential buildings (including service apartment buildings) must be replaced with those made of stainless steel (of type 304).

The owners of the individual residential unit are responsible to engage approved window contractors to undertake the retrofitting work.

Windows in detached house, semi-detached house, terrace house or linked house, which are not comprised in any strata title plan, and windows located on the lowest level of any buildings are exempted from the order.

6.
Am I affected by the window retrofitting order?
 

If the windows in your house are of casement-type and they are fitted with aluminium rivets at the variable geometry stays, you are required to carry out the retrofitting by replacing the aluminium rivets with those made of stainless steel of type 304.

A casement window is defined as "a window, or part thereof, which opens on hinges, pivots or variable geometry stays". Based on this definition, top-hung windows are also casement windows. See photographs below.

A 12-month grace period, ending 30 September 2005, has been granted for owners to carry out the retrofitting work. The aluminium rivets fitted on the friction stays of the affected casement windows which have been installed for 5 years or more must be replaced by the end of the grace period. Otherwise, the windows may be retrofitted before they reach their 5th year.

 
7.
Do I have to retrofit my windows every five years?
 

No. The retrofitting order only requires casement windows fitted with aluminium rivets at the friction stays to be retrofitted once.

8.
If I have retrofitted my windows before 1 October 2004, do I have to retrofit my windows again?
 

No. Casements windows that are already fitted with stainless steel rivets are not affected by the retrofitting order. However, it is the responsibility of homeowners to check their windows regularly to ensure that they are safe.

9.
If I am not affected by the retrofitting order (e.g. your windows are of sliding-type, your contractor has advised that your windows are not fitted with aluminium rivets), must I submit any report to BCA (or HDB)?
 

For window installation (including installing, repairing, replacing and modifying) works, the builder/approved window contractor (or approved window contractor listed with HDB, if you live in a HDB flat) are expected to fill in the certificate of completion, duly signed, and submit to BCA, Commissioner of Building Control with copy to the homeowners even though you are not affected by the retrofitting order.

For homeowners who are unsure, you are advised to check with your window contractor.

For more information on Retrofitting Report, please visit BCA website at www.bca.gov.sg/window_safety.

10.
What should I do if I am affected by the retrofitting order?
 

You should engage an approved window contractor [List of approved window contractors ] (or [approved window contractor listed with HDB.] if you live in a HDB flat) to carry out the retrofitting by replacing the aluminium rivets on your casement windows with those made of stainless steel. The list is regularly updated.

11.
Will I be given any documentary proof of the retrofitting work done by the approved window contractor after the rivet replacement work?
 

Upon completion of the rivet replacement work, your contractor will provide you with a retrofitting report (Form A (17kb .pdf) for private housing and Form B1 (17kb .pdf) for HDB flats). You should send a copy of the report to BCA (or HDB if you live in a HDB flat) for records. You must also keep a copy of the report for your own reference.

12.
The contractor which I have engaged proposes that I change other parts of the windows. Must I change them?
 

If your contractor proposes that you repair/change the faulty window or the faulty parts of the windows for the safety reasons, we advised that you change them. Nevertheless, you may request for an explanation from your contractor for the proposal. You may also seek advice from other contractors on this.

 
13.
What is the cost of retrofitting the windows?
 

The Government does not fixed a rate for the window retrofitting work, as this should be determine by the market demand. You could negotiate the rate with the contractor. You may also wish to check with a few other contactors to ensure that the rate quoted is reasonable.

Before you allow any contractor to start work, you should understand the components that would be replaced and the total cost of the work. You should also instruct the contractor to seek your consent before he changes other additional components.

14.
After I have retrofitted the windows, does it mean that I no longer need to worry about the safety of my windows?
 

No. The safety of windows can still deteriorate after you have retrofitted them if you do not maintain them regularly.

15.
If I have retrofitted my windows and the windows still fall, will I be penalised?
 

We will have to investigate the cause for the fallen windows. If the incident is caused by poor retrofitting work done or use of wrong material, the trained window installers and the approved contractor may be penalised under the order.

However, if it is due to lack of maintenance, the owner may be penalised under Section 9 of the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act. You may refer to the information on proper maintenance of windows provided at BCA's and HDB's websites.

16.
Can you explain what is in Section 9 of the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act about?
 

Section 9 of the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act requires owners to maintain their properties in good condition. This includes house owners to maintain their windows. Should a fallen window is found due to lack of maintenance, the house owner may be penalised under this provision. This Act will be made effective in early 2005.

17.
Who should check windows regularly to ensure that they are safe? Is it compulsory for homeowners to engage a trained window contractor to check their windows, or can they do it themselves?
 

It is not mandated that homeowners have to engage a trained window contractor to check their windows. Homeowners should check their windows regularly to ensure that they are safe. Both BCA and HDB have provided DIY guides to help homeowners do a simple visual inspection of their windows. If owners are unsure about carrying out the inspection on their own, they can engage a trained window contractor to help them inspect the windows.

 
18.
How do I check whether my windows are safe? Can HDB help homeowners to check whether their windows are safe?
 

Under the Lease, it is the flat owners responsibility to maintain their windows in good working condition. HDB has provided simple and useful window maintenance tips and steps for checking of windows in the HDB InfoWEB.

Flat owners who are unsure or not confident of checking their own windows can engage an approved window contractor listed with HDB to help them inspect their windows.

19.
Why should I pay to retrofit my windows to meet prevailing standards when they were installed by HDB?
 

Under the Lease, flat owners have a responsibility to upkeep their property, which includes windows in their flats. This includes bearing the cost of window maintenance and repair. It is the same for private property owners.

20.
Does HDB follow any minimum safety standards when it installs windows in HDB flats? Why did HDB install casement windows using aluminium rivets?
 

HDB designs and installs windows in HDB flats according to the prevailing industry standards set by SPRING Singapore. From 1987 to 1998, aluminium rivets were used for the installation of casement windows in HDB flats, as they were the accepted industry standard not just in Singapore, but also internationally.

Where standards have improved, HDB has followed suit. In fact, HDB has switched to the use of stainless steel rivets for casement windows since 1998, ahead of the revised industry standards that were adopted in 2000.

21.
Will HDB provide any help if I am unable to pay for the rivet replacement works?
 

Flat owners who are in financial hardship can approach HDB Branches, who can refer them to the relevant organisations for financial assistance.

22.
As HDB had approved the contractors to carry out window renovations, shouldn�t HDB also be responsible for the installed windows?
 

When HDB registers the contractors to ensure that they are aware of HDB�s requirements when they carry out renovations, so as to protect the structural integrity of the building.

HDB does not endorse nor guarantee the quality of the renovations. The contractors are fully responsible for the contractual responsibilities towards their client, including workmanship. Like all fixtures, the flat owners need to maintain their windows to ensure that they are safe and functional.

23.
What can I do if my windows are installed with aluminium rivets? Can HDB change the rivets to stainless steel ones?
 

Under the lease, flat owners have a responsibility to upkeep their property, which includes windows in their flats.

Flat owners should engage an approved window contractor listed with HDB to replace the aluminium rivets with stainless steel rivets.

Alternatively, they can also approach approved window contractor to carry out window retrofitting works in their flats. A list of approved window contractors and the indicative price for the works is available on HDB InfoWEB.

However, changing the rivets alone does not guarantee that the windows will be safe. Windows are subject to daily wear and tear when we open and close them. Regular window maintenance is essential for all windows.