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Man fined for building illegal mezzanine level in top-floor unit to 'optimise' space

The extra level went undetected for 11 years until authorities were tipped off. 

Man fined for building illegal mezzanine level in top-floor unit to 'optimise' space

Screengrab from Google Street View of The Alexcier.

SINGAPORE: To optimise space in his top-floor unit with a high ceiling, a man had a mezzanine level put in without approval.

The extra level in the eighth-floor unit was in The Alexcier building on Alexandra Road. It went undetected for 11 years and the man even installed a door made to look like a display shelf in order to conceal the staircase leading to the rogue level.

However, anonymous tip-offs to the authorities led to the secret floor being uncovered, and it was later removed at the man's own cost.

Yeo Choon Guan, who owns several companies in real estate development and sales, was fined S$50,000 by a court on Tuesday (Mar 28) for his offences.

The 51-year-old man pleaded guilty to one charge each of authorising the unapproved construction of the mezzanine floor and a charge of contravening the Fire Safety Act. Another two charges were taken into consideration.

The court heard that Yeo was a director and shareholder of a few entities from 2008 to 2009, including ZACD Investments, which owns The Alexcier at 237 Alexandra Road.

The premises were tenanted to ZACD Posh, another company under Yeo.

In early 2008, Yeo wanted to optimise the space in a top-floor unit with a high ceiling which was not being used.

He wanted more useful space in the form of a mezzanine floor that could be used by his businesses.

Yeo appointed interior design and renovation company Communication Design International for works at the premises, including construction of the floor.

Yeo and his wife, who was also a director at one of his companies, attended several meetings on the building works.

In these meetings, Yeo failed to confirm what, if any, necessary approvals had been obtained from the authorities.

The floor was completed in the first quarter of 2009 and spanned a floor area of about 500 sqm, or 37.5m by 14m.


The extra floor was initially used as a storage area for files, IT equipment and as an office.

Sometime between 2011 and 2013, Yeo realised that the floor was not authorised. Between 2014 and 2015, a display shelf door was installed to conceal the staircase to the mezzanine floor.

After this, it was used as an interior design showroom and rest area for employees.

In February 2019, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) received anonymous tip-offs about an unauthorised structure in the building.

BCA officers discovered the floor and found that plans for it had not been approved at the time of its construction.

There was also no building plan for fire safety works submitted to the Commissioner of Civil Defence for approval.

Yeo later arranged for the floor to be removed and bore the cost. Investigations did not find that the floor had posed a structural risk or danger to the rest of the building.

Both the prosecution and the defence asked for fines, differing only in the quantum.

Lawyer S Balamurugan said the purpose of the floor was to optimise the space and not for rental purposes or rental gains, such as in other cases.

He said his client has accepted his culpability and is genuinely contrite. The floor did not pose any immediate structural hazard nor a specific fire hazard, said the lawyer.

He said his client is "a person of good conduct and standing in society", with an unblemished record and promises not to reoffend.

The judge said the key aggravating factors in this case were the length of time the floor remained - 11 years - and the concealment of the entrance.

Yeo paid the fine in full.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority and BCA said in a statement on Apr 4 that they have issued stern warnings to the companies involved in the construction of the additional floor in lieu of prosecution, following investigations and in consultation with the Attorney-General's Chambers.

Source: CNA/ll(ac)


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