A different housing crisis

(China Daily)
Updated: 2010-04-08 07:50
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Editor's note: When the local governments or developers demolish many newly built buildings, we should take notice of the massive waste of resources and think twice our old model of urban construction.

The average life of a residential building is about 30 years, according to a vice-minister of construction. It's a horrible problem if it's true but the figure also opens up a wider discussion about the appalling reality of the construction and demolition of buildings today.

The vice-minister fails to mention that some buildings are being torn down in less than 10 years to make room for new ones. There have also been reports that newly constructed buildings are collapsing due to their shoddy quality.

The demolition of buildings for the sake of making room for new ones is causing a massive waste of resources and producing huge heaps of construction material waste.

New residential buildings are also poor in quality mainly because real estate developers are trying to cut corners by using substandard materials or hastening the construction process.

Related readings:
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A different housing crisis Housing prices likely stable in '10: expert
A different housing crisis Sky-high housing prices out of reach
A different housing crisis Sell-off of last subsidized housing

To remedy these problems, local urban planners need to be more frugal when it comes to tearing down recently built buildings. Specific rules are needed to prevent local governments from unnecessary demolitions to make a profit.

A solution to the shoddy quality of buildings would be to have trustworthy supervisors to prevent real estate developers from compromising building standards. Better yet, we should root out collaboration between local governments and developers.

For the Ministry of Construction, an investigation needs to be launched to discover the exact percentage of low quality residential buildings and the number of sound buildings that have been demolished within a specific period of time. The investigation also needs to find out the real problems behind these issues to possibly pave the way for effective policies.