An overhaul of "ridiculous, outdated, and ambiguous" construction laws has been drafted by architects who say it is time to properly regulate the sector.
Kamra Tal Periti president Simone Vella Lenicker said the proposals came in the wake of a number of construction site accidents in Malta which had shocked the public and led to heated public debate on issues of safety and quality of construction.
The chamber, she said, had been working on these proposals from as far back as 2007, when it had first highlighted the need for an overhaul of the sector which had a worryingly disorganised legal framework.
Last year, the government announced it would be consolidating a number of different authorities involved in policing the construction sector into one comprehensive new office.
The chamber is proposing that these new regulations and codes would be administered by this one-stop-shop.
There was a limit, she said, to how much people should be expected to pay for a poorly built property.
Andre Pizzuto, who headed the chamber’s working group on these proposals, said architects and other professionals involved in the sector had to defer to more than two dozen state entities through the course of a building project.
This fragmented legal landscape was due, in part, to the piecemeal approach adopted over the years.
Laws that in some cases dated back to the 19th century, such as certain sanitation regulations, could not remain unchanged as the country steamed ahead towards the development of large scale, and high rise projects.
Architects, Mr Pizzuto said, were kept up at night by the terrifying thought of being held accountable and liable for damage sustained by buildings up to 15 years after their construction due to ambiguous and broad legalese.
What are they proposing?
The Kamra tal Periti consultation document takes stock of the complex legal landscape in Malta, and compares it to best practices in countries from Scotland to Malaysia.
The principles of the reform:
In a nutshell, the KTP is proposing a broad reform of the building and construction regulation regime that covers all areas of the sector in a simple but comprehensive system, catering for small and large projects.
Codes: The KTP is proposing a system of certification and approved documents. These would include building codes and construction codes.
Professional responsibilities: The role of periti and engineers would be more focused on design, setting of specifications, monitoring works, and certifying compliance at completion in accordance with new codes. Professional liabilities of a number of people involved (Periti, engineers, masons, site managers etc) would be clearly set out in-line with European averages.
Large projects such as high rise towers or hospitals should have their engineering works certified by a firm not involved in the project to ensure adherence to laws.
Building and construction inspectors: According to the KTP it was time for new professionals to inspect and monitor construction sites on a day-to-day basis.
Contractors should be registered in a bid to raise quality and standards.
Read the full consultation document here.
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