Japan’s high-rise apartment towers reaching due date for repairs

Elsa Tower 55 Saitama

Earlier this year scaffolding went up around Saitama Prefecture’s tallest apartment building. The 17-year old building is one of the first high-rise residential buildings in Japan to undergo large-scale building repairs and maintenance, and more are expected to follow.

The 185m tall, 55-storey ‘Elsa Tower 55’ is located in Kawaguchi City, Saitama. It held the title as Japan’s tallest residential building between 1998 and 2004, and is still the tallest apartment building in the prefecture.

Due to the sheer size of the 650-unit building, exterior repairs are expected to take two years. The cost of the repairs and maintenance has been estimated at 1.2 billion Yen (9.7 million USD), which is around 1.8 million Yen (15,000 USD) per apartment. Both the cost of repairs and the time required are about double that of a normal apartment building. Luckily the costs can be covered by money that was saved up in the building’s repair fund, and apartment owners have not had to pay any additional fees, nor has the owners association had to borrow any funds. Not all buildings are this lucky as some do not have enough funds available for necessary repairs.

Repair work is being carried out by Shimizu BLC, a division of Shimizu Corporation, and includes repainting, re-sealing balconies, replacing film on balcony glass, and re-sealing joints.

Japan went through a high-rise apartment boom in the early 2000s. According to the Real Estate Economic Institute, there were 782 super high-rise apartment buildings (over 20-storeys) across Japan at the end of 2014. 80% of those were built from 2000 onwards.

Large-scale repairs and maintenance should ideally be carried out at 12 ~ 15 year intervals, which means many of these high-rise towers are drawing very close to this repair schedule. This time frame is only provided as a guide, and the decision to carry out repairs is entirely up to the apartment owners. Repairs usually involve re-sealing around windows, cleaning, replacing or repairing any loose tiles, sealing any cracks in concrete and water proofing. If a building is not maintained, rain water can seep in through cracks and permeate the concrete structure causing corrosion.

Other high-rises that are undergoing maintenance this year:

Harumi View Tower, 50 storeys, built in 1998.
Schedule: March 2015 ~ December 2018.
City Tower Takanawa, 35 storeys, built in 2004.
Schedule: April 2015 ~ March 2016.
Park Tower Shibaura, 29 storeys, built in 2005.
Schedule: September 2015 ~ June 2016.

Shimizu Corporation News Release, July 30, 2015.
The Asahi Shimbun, August 7, 2015.
The Kensetsu Tsushin Shimbun, July 31, 2015.
Nikkei Messe, June 12, 2015.
Image via bluestyle.livedoor.biz


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