Condo owner builds a “mountain villa” on the roof of a 26 storey residential tower in Beijing

In what is likely the first condo case to make international headlines, municipal authorities in Beijing China have given a penthouse owner 15 days to remove a mountain that he installed on a roof top patio. According to reports published by the Associated Press on Yahoo News, the Chinese media have dubbed the rooftop reno …”Beijing’s most outrageous illegal structure”. Yahoo also published a photo gallery and describes the structure as a “…craggy complex of rooms, rocks, trees and bushes looming over the 26-story building [that] looks like something built into a seaside cliff, and … the latest symbol of disregard for the law among the rich as well as the rampant practice of building illegal additions”. The massive installation took approximately 6 years to construct with residents reporting that the work was done mainly at night. According to Yahoo and AP, the owner is the head of a major business and has political connections. He also refers to the gigantic structure as a “just an ornamental garden”.

Unauthorized alterations are common in BC, especially where common property rooftop decks are concerned. A number of strata property law cases have made their way through our courts, including one case where an owner installed a “ornamental garden” on the roof of his building, complete with ponds and other structures. Rooftop structures are a concern because of the load they put on the roof. Some roofs are used as decks even though they were only designed and constructed to be roofs. This is often the case in older buildings that were constructed under less stringent legislation and bylaws. The case in Beijing will certainly be of interest to structural engineers because the structure on this roof appears to weigh several hundred tonnes. It is surprising that this tower (which would not look out of place in Vancouver) could support such additional weight.

WHAT WE DO: Lesperance Mendes practices law related to land, buildings and people. Our lawyers have appeared at every level of court and are also experienced in arbitration, mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution. We are proud of our established track record of successful court decisions and settlements that we have obtained on behalf of our clients. For information about our strata law practice, contact Paul G. Mendes. For an archive of strata alerts, please visit our website: WWW.LMLAW.CA.

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