An agency set up last year to regulate the building industry often tells architects it does not have the time to read lengthy documents about the safety procedures to be used during construction works. 

Speaking to Times of Malta, Kamra tal-Periti (KTP) vice-president Andre Pizzuto said architects frequently had disagreements with the Building and Construction Agency (BCA) over its insistence that a pre-set form is used that “limits” the ability to provide adequate details in method statements.

Mr Pizzuto said both he and KTP president, Simone Vella Lenicker, had to regularly intervene on behalf of architects and civil engineers who wished to submit lengthier reports.

“The justification we have been given is that Building and Construction Agency officials do not have the time to read lengthy documents”, Pizzuto said.

Ill-fated construction works in Ħamrun were given the go-ahead, despite an architect acknowledging an element of risk. On Monday, the house next door to the works collapsed, killing Miriam Pace, 54, in her home.

“Consequently, the chance of any unplanned collapse of the third-party structures is a minimum,” the architect had written in the method statement submitted to the BCA for works on a site underlying the Pace home.

An extract from the method statement filed by the project's architect.An extract from the method statement filed by the project's architect.

BCA head Ivor Robinich said in an interview on TVM this week that the regulator accepted method statements filed by architects without question.

According to the 2020 budget estimates, the BCA will have a budget of €3 million this year

“We go by the method statement. If an architect feels he should do something, he does it. We cannot overrule the architect’s work,” Robinich said.

The agency, established through a legal notice last year, only recently set up a functioning website. It was set up to take over from the Building Regulation Office, which had been largely recognised as toothless.

According to the 2020 budget estimates, the BCA will have a budget of €3 million this year.

The Kamra tal-Periti believes the regulator lacks the necessary technical, human and financial resources to deal with the complexities of the industry and with the amount of construction activity.

Vella Lenicker said inspections by the BCA were generally carried out when complaints were received.

The agency’s response was dependent on its resources: sometimes it was quick to act at others it took weeks

The Kamra tal-Periti president said all players in the industry had to be responsible for their actions.

“Today, it is only architects, civil engineers, engineers and masons who are regulated. Contractors, who carry the same civil liabilities as periti for the integrity of the structure are completely unregulated. We cannot expect the industry to move forward if this matter is not addressed,” Vella Lenicker said.

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