JSM: Better design standards to make buildings quake resilient

Progressive loan-repayment system can help ease property financing for house buyers

PETALING JAYA: A new design code to make buildings more resilient to tremors is expected to be ready later this year.

The proposed code, to be ready by October, will cover all buildings including condominiums, landed properties and commercial places, said the Department of Standards Malaysia (JSM).

“Currently, the technical details of the code are being ironed out by a working group,” the JSM told Sunday Star recently.

The group comprises the Ma­­laysian Meteorological Department, Minerals and Geoscience Depart­ment, Public Works Department (JKR), Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM), Sabah Housing and Real Estate Developers Association and other experts.

However, it is possible that the new standards may lead to higher construction costs, with the JSM estimating the increase to be about 5% to 10%.

“After the code is published, it isn’t compulsory for all buildings to follow the code as it is up to the local authorities to decide on imposing the standards,” said the JSM, which comes under the Science, Tech­nology and Innovation Ministry.

IEM president Tan Yean Chin said the code could be used in all states in Malaysia but each state had the power to determine when to implement its application.

“Once the code is adopted by the local authorities, then all new buildings to be constructed will have to comply with it.

“As for existing buildings, it will be up to the owners’ discretion to seek advice from professional engineers to assess whether such structures need to be upgraded or retrofitted to comply with the code,” he added.

Tan said that while the code would increase the resistance of buildings to higher magnitudes of tremors, owners of existing buildings should not be overly concerned about their properties.

“Adopting the code is like adding new features to a car to further improve its safety.

“It doesn’t mean that existing cars are unsafe without such features,” he added.

While Malaysia has generally low seismic activity, it is still subject to tremors from earthquakes in neighbouring countries.

On Jan 16, residents in Penang and other areas on the west coast of the peninsula felt the ripples of a 5.6-magnitude earthquake that struck near Medan, Indonesia.

Sabah has recorded more major incidents, including a 6.0-magnitude local earthquake in Ranau which led to 18 deaths in June 2015.

It was reported that Malaysia was working on an earthquake design code by endorsing the Eurocode 8 to be incorporated into Malaysian standards.

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