Saeima adopts in the final reading voluminous amendments to construction regulations

(09.07.2013.)
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On Tuesday, 9 July, the Saeima adopted in the third and final reading amendments to the Construction Law which provide for major changes in the current regulations that will significantly expedite the construction process and decrease the administrative burden for constructors.

The new wording of the Law defines and clarifies rules regarding construction intention, design, responsibility, supervision, as well as procedure for certifying construction specialists and issuing construction permits, classification of construction merchants and the involvement of public institutions in the construction sector.

The amendments supplement the Law with a new article on classification of construction merchants, stipulating that in order to apply for contracts financed by the government, local governments or the European Union, a construction merchant should receive a classification document. Construction merchants will be classified on the basis of an assessment of their financial status, technical data and professional experience.

Henceforth, construction specialists will be issued permanent certificates with a requirement to improve their professional qualifications on a regular basis. Currently builders’ or architects’ practice certificates are issued for a period of up to 5 years. The amendments provide for a transition period for persons who, at the time when these amendments come into force, have the right to engage in independent practice but do not have the relevant education required by the new provisions of the Law. The amendments also clarify the definition of construction specialist, as well as rights and obligations of independent practitioners

The amendments clarify the responsibilities of the Cabinet of Ministers in issuing general and special construction regulations, as well as regulations pertaining to the assessment of construction specialists’ competence and construction merchant classification.

The amendments clarify the process of issuing construction permits and the grounds on which permits are denied; they also stipulate that local governments can supplement building regulations with additional requirements, for example, for the building to fit in with the surrounding landscape or urban environment. Furthermore, the amendments provide that the building authority will have the right to annul the building permit if the construction works are carried out illegally. The Law will henceforth also stipulate that upon the risk of the client it will be possible to continue design activities while the building permit is being challenged or appealed.

The amendments contain a definition of the building authority and clarify its responsibilities, which are as follows: to control the construction process and its compliance with legislation, to provide information about regulations on construction and use of the site, as well as to consider applications and to take decisions pertaining to construction intention. The building authority will also have to consider alternative technical solutions for accessibility of the buildings, commission buildings, take decisions on changes to be made in a building or a part of it not involving construction, provide consultations on planning of construction works and construction possibilities in the given site, as well as register construction permits issued by other institutions.

The new wording of the Law sets specific deadlines for taking decisions by local government building authorities. Depending on the construction intention, these deadlines will be within 30, 14 or 7 days.

As regards responsibility for construction, the new regulations clarify the scope of responsibility of each stakeholder in the construction process. For example, the land owner and the client will be responsible for the construction, while the developer of the building design will be responsible for the contents of the building design. Amendments also set forth the scope of responsibility of constructors, construction custodians and construction specialists.

The amendments envisage that local governments will have to ensure accessibility of information in the construction information system and inform the community about construction intentions.

The amendments stipulate that in cases when the owner of a building has failed to repair or demolish a dilapidated building, local governments will have to eliminate danger posed by the building instead of repairing or demolishing it. 

The Law has been supplemented with a new article on construction insurance which sets forth an obligation for the contractor to insure their civil legal liability in certain situations.

The aim of the amendments is to ensure that the construction process entails not only sustainable national economic and social development and preservation of cultural and natural heritage but also efficient use of energy resources. The main requirements for buildings have also been redefined, for instance, by including sustainable use of natural resources as a requirement.

The new provisions set forth construction principles and rules which the sector must abide by, for example, engineering and technical quality, the principle of sustainable construction and transparency of the construction process so that the community is informed about planned construction and the pertinent decisions. 

The Law has also been supplemented with a new article providing that the ministry responsible for the construction sector shall supervise the sector and coordinate it on a national level, as well as elaborate a uniform national construction policy and ensure its implementation; therefore, the Law sets forth specific obligations for the ministry responsible for the construction sector, as well as for other line ministries.

“In essence, these amendments amount to entirely new construction regulations which will significantly improve and streamline the construction process. Construction is one of the most important sectors of the economy and a support mechanism for businesses; therefore, adoption of these amendments will also facilitate national economic growth and attract investors,” said Jānis Ozoliņš, Chairman of the Economic, Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Policy Committee of the Saeima, which was responsible for the preparation of the amendments. He also pointed out that the amendments will increase Latvia’s global competitiveness.

The previous construction regulations did not meet the current demands because they were imprecise and difficult to work with. The Law was initially adopted in 1995 and set forth a complicated decision-making procedure.

A working group was set up in order to draft amendments to the Law; it consisted of MPs, experts from the construction sector, representatives of non-governmental organisations, social partners, ministries and other governmental institutions.

The new regulations will come into force on 1 February 2014.


Video about the amendments available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSNf6_l5mXo
Rules for using the content: https://www.saeima.lv/en/copyrights 



Saeima Press Service

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