The Malta Independent 19 September 2019, Thursday

Indepth: ‘New construction rules will likely lead to higher property prices’

INDEPTH online Friday, 28 June 2019, 09:23 Last update: about 4 months ago

Chamber of Architects President says new law was ‘rushed’

The new construction regulations will likely lead to higher property prices, Simone Vella Lenicker, the president of the Chamber of Architects, said on INDEPTH.

Interviewed by The Malta Independent News Editor Neil Camilleri, Vella Lenicker said the requirement for Site Technical Officers to be warranted architects, along with the added number of required technical studies, is expected to lead to higher prices, which will likely be borne by consumers.

“Now there are requirements for studies for excavations and for surveys to be carried out on a number of third party properties in the vicinity. The scope of study has changed drastically and there are certain requirements which are not so easy to observe.”

She added that architects must also be aware of the new legalisation and of the possible implications if not all required studies are undertaken.

Vella Lenicker also said that the quality of the building materials used is extremely important, and if not of a certain standard could lead to serious problems later.

If the quality of concrete used at construction sites is not strong enough, it will impact both the consumer and the architect. When architects design buildings, they specify what type of brick or stone has to be used, as these have to be able to bear a certain weight. If inferior materials are used, this would affect the project. She added that concrete, even if of good quality, is not meant to last forever and that each material bought should come with a CE marking, reflecting that the material has been assessed for all necessary requirements.

 

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Earlier story

There are not enough architects to cater for the demand created by the new construction regulations, according to Simone Vella Lenicker, the president of the Malta Chamber of Architects. 

Speaking on Indepth, she said that it is estimated that less than half of the 1,100 warranted architects in Malta are completely dedicated to construction work. Many architects are involved in other areas of the industry, such as interior design and bulding valuations, but would not be solely dedicated to construction work. 

Vella Lenicker was interviewed for this week's edition of Indepth by The Malta Independent News Editor Neil Camilleri, the subject being the newly launched construction regulations.

Earlier this month, the government halted all demolition and excavation works as a result of the recent building collapses which occurred adjacent to construction sites. The new regulations were published earlier this week after a short consultation period.

One of the new construction regulations says that Site Technical Officers must be warranted architects. Asked if there were enough periti for the job, Vella Lenicker said there are around 2,500 construction sites and less than half that number of architects. Furthermore, less than half of these architects would actually be working in the construction industry. "One must remember that architects are not static, and some would work in the fields of interior design or the valuation of property."

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said this week that gone are the days when a site manager is working on multiple projects. This could add more pressure on the few warranted architects in this line of work, Vella Lenicker said. She agreed that the architect of the project should not also be a site technical officer.

 

New law passed too quickly

The Kamra tal-Periti President believes that the new regulations are a rush job. "This law was passed too quickly, and this is of concern since it has a huge impact on many other laws.

"It has an impact on contracts which had already been signed before the new regulations came into force, so the roles of particular contractors and architects are set in that contract," said Vella Lenicker.

She added that not enough studies were undertaken to see the impact that the new regulations would have on the construction industry and society. "The new law will not only impact future construction projects, but also ongoing ones."

Earlier this week, the Chamber of Architects also released a statement saying that the government did not consult with the Chamber before launching the new construction regulations. Vella Lenicker explained that the Chamber had requested to meet with the government during the five-day public consultation period.

"We were in the meeting with the Prime Minister, alongside other stakeholders when we began discussing the changes to the construction laws. We gave our feedback straight away and when the legal notice was published last week, we had placed a plenary position and collected all the feedback from the Chamber to see what our position was."

She explained that the Chamber was never approached for a consultation meeting in the days before the launch of the new rules, unlike other stakeholders. "If there was a more intimate conversation between the Chamber of Architects and the government, certain issues would most likely have been avoided."


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