Chamber in Support of Several Planned Amendments to the Building Code
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication has prepared the intent to amend the Building Code, which contains several dozens of proposals for the amendment of the Building Code. The Chamber has expressed its support to several proposals, for example digitalisation of the construction sector. At the same time, we pointed out to the Ministry several problems in construction that have not been mentioned in the document and that need a solution.
Time-limits of proceedings in working days
We expressed our support to the proposal to set the time-limits of proceedings in working days in the Building Code. The deadline for requesting approval for the draft building permit would in such case be up to 10 working days and the deadline for issuing a building permit, authorisation of use and project design conditions (together with approval) up to 20 working days. The term for the open design conditions proceedings should be 50 working days. At the moment, some time-limits of proceedings are set in working days and some in calendar days.
Furthermore, we also supported the amendment that building notices should be processed faster than permit applications.
Digitalisation of the construction sector
The Chamber also supported several proposals that concern digitalisation of the construction sector. For example, we supported the amendment according to which a digital information model of a structure and data contained therein can be considered as a construction project in the permit proceedings. This means that it would be possible for entrepreneurs to submit a digital information model based project for the proceedings of building permit and use authorisation, and based on the results of automatic checks, receive quick feedback on the compliance with the project requirements. Such solution would be an opportunity and not an obligation for entrepreneurs.
Notification and obligation to obtain permits
We also supported the Ministry’s proposal to amend the list of structures for which the notification and permit obligation applies set out in Annexes 1 and 2 of the Building Code in the way that in the future it will be obligatory to notify of erecting a structure that is not defined as free construction activities, i.e. on which there is no indication in the Annexes to the Building Code that there is no respective obligation. The list of structures set out in the Annexes to the Building Code currently does not include all structures, due to which it is unclear if notification or permit proceedings are required for erecting a structure not listed in the Annexes.
Definition of a building
The Chamber of Commerce supported the proposal of the Ministry to amend the definition of a building in the Building Code so that a building would only be a building with permanent interior space. This means that buildings without permanent interior space would be considered civil engineering works in the future. At the same time, in order to ensure legal clarity, we made a proposal to highlight in the Building Code the definition of a permanent interior space.
Incompetent officials of local municipalities
Additionally, we notified the Ministry that based on the feedback received from entrepreneurs, an important problem of the construction sector is the incompetence of officials of some local municipalities. For example, if a local municipality official makes comments on a project, they do not always rely on the standards of the construction sector and sometimes the comments are even contradicting the applicable standards. For example, there have been cases where municipalities come up with conditions in addition to the established building design specifications or comprehensive plan.
Exceeding the time-limits for proceedings is another problem. For example, an official discovers a mistake in a document and after it has been corrected, they discover another. And therefore the deadline will constantly be postponed. A logical solution would be to highlight all the problems at once and thereafter extend the deadline.
Entrepreneurs are also worried about the fact that the officials of different local municipalities have a different understanding of the standards of the construction sector and therefore there are very many different interpretations and the procedural practice is not uniform across Estonia. We requested that the Ministry find a solution for the problems highlighted by entrepreneurs.
As the next step, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication will prepare the draft for the amendment of the Building Act, which according to the current schedule will be completed during the first quarter of 2022. The expected deadline for the entry into force of the draft is the fourth quarter of 2022.
Should you have any questions regarding the planned amendments or if you wish to let us know of any problems in the construction sector, or make proposals for amendments, let us know by writing to email@example.com.
All planned amendments to the Building Code are available HERE.