New simplifications in construction formalities

The Ministry of Development and Technology does not intend to stop at 70 m² houses. He is preparing new simplifications in building formalities and wants to further extend the list of investments that do not require a building permit. At the same time, it plans to impose additional obligations on architects.

The lawyers hope that this time the government and the parliament will ensure that the regulations are of good quality and do not cause problems, as is the case for houses of 70 m². In theory, the formalities are very simple, but they are difficult to apply in practice. Even the civil servants themselves have problems. And the guidelines issued by the General Construction Supervision Office do not fully help them.

Something new is coming, but we will have to wait for the details

The Ministry of Development and Technology is very careful and does not reveal too many details yet. – We wish to extend the list of investments which the starost will not have the right to oppose. Currently it cannot do this in the case of a notification of the construction of a single-family residential house up to 70 m² We are working on other regulations – says Piotr Uściński, Deputy Minister of Development and Technology.

He explains that as part of the pursuit of the deregulation of construction law, the ministry plans to increase the responsibility of the architect. – He has professional knowledge and professional experience, and he knows best whether a given investment will be built in accordance with the provisions of the local plan and whether it is safe. The role of the clerk, however, is completely different. I was the starost and I know what it looks like in practice – emphasizes Deputy Minister Piotr Uściński.

According to the Deputy Director of the Ministry of Regional Development, not all civil servants are civil engineers or architects by training. Among them there are also people with a different education and it is sometimes difficult for them to evaluate the project from a technical point of view. However, they are required to approve it, so they stamp on the designs that they are legal. When it comes to a situation where a given investment has flaws, the architects argue that it’s not their fault because someone in the office approved the documents. How could they know they had done something illegal when the official stamped it? – It’s like playing cat and mouse, and that’s what we don’t want. The starost’s lack of objection should not be an excuse for any shortcomings. When designing an investment, an architect must take full responsibility that their design complies with the law, Deputy Minister Piotr Uściński added.

Please, yes, but with your head

Lawyers agree that further changes to building law are needed, but the first thing to do is to change provisions that are unclear or raise doubts about their application. They strongly oppose changes similar to those introduced in the case of 70 m² houses, namely prohibiting the starost from raising objections.

It is undesirable for building law regulations to be interpreted differently by individual starosties. A discussion is needed on the catalog of construction works that do not require a building permit but only a notification or do not require a building permit and notification – believes Piotr Jarzyński, partner of the law firm Jarzyński & Wspólnicy.

He is also not in favor of simplifying the procedures to such an extent that in the event of notification, the starost would only be the recipient and would not have the right to verify it. – Unless the legalization procedure and work supervision authorizations are significantly modified, making it possible, for example, to order the demolition of a building structure without carrying out the procedure for many years. The stability of the law is also important. Subsequent changes, made every few months, cause participants in the construction process to lose sight of the applicable regulations and, moreover, create enforcement problems, given the interim rules – he adds.

Let there be no repetition of the 70 sq.m. houses.

Dr. Martyna Sługocka, legal adviser and author of Legal Alert, also believes that another amendment to the Building Law is not a bad thing, but only under certain conditions. – The very idea of ​​simplifying investment procedures is not bad – there are many regulations in the legal system that have long since become obsolete, and yet are still the basis for decisions of the administration of the architecture and construction or building supervision authorities. However, changes consisting in removing all formalities during the implementation of the investment do not seem to be a good solution. This was demonstrated by the amendment to the Building Law of January 3, 2022, which made less formalized the construction of individual single-family residential buildings of up to two floors with a development area of ​​up to 70 m², whose area of ​​influence is entirely located on the plot or plots on which they were designed, and the construction is carried out with a view to meeting the investor’s own housing needs (Article 29 (1) (1a) of the building law). The solution itself seems good assuming that the investor has the necessary knowledge to determine whether his investment falls within the scope indicated by the legislator, that is, whether the project certainly includes a single-family building, whether the area built has been correctly defined, or if the area of ​​influence certainly does not exceed the neighboring parcel – Explain.

He says the practice of authorities accepting applications for construction of such houses shows that investors submit all the documents they deem necessary and start the implementation of the investment. At the same time, officials report that in most cases the documentation needs to be completed, or even does not meet the requirements of the regulations. While lawmakers have stripped architecture and building administration authorities of the ability to summon investors to clear irregularities, officials are trying a variety of remedies, including even phone calls to claimants. In many cases, in response, they hear offensive statements or accusations of acting to the detriment of the investor, yet they only want to protect investors from unauthorized construction.

– It seems that the GUNB notices the problem, but tries to solve it not by modifying the regulations, but by guidelines for the authorities, which indicate that such a simplified declaration should be examined by the authority in terms of compliance of the conditions of art. 29 sec. 1 point 1a of the building law. However, remember that the investor can implement the investment immediately after submitting the notification, it does not follow from any legal provision that he has to wait for verification or qualification from the authority – says Martyna Sługocka.

Read also: The government wants to follow the directives to amend the law on houses up to 70 m² >>

According to her, solutions that transfer the responsibility for the investment to the designers are not a good idea for a reason. – Building law and land-use planning regulations are unclear and complicated, and therefore interpreted differently in different parts of the country. Therefore, it may happen that a solution proposed by the designer is approved in one voivodeship and considered a violation of the law in another. This is why the authorities of the administration of architecture and construction have the competence to examine certain projects (the designer is already responsible for the rest) and to request the removal of irregularities or shortcomings. – Explain.

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