The newly adopted Construction law of Republic of Latvia came into force on the 1st of October. This law brings major changes to the field of construction. Henceforth the next (second) phase of construction process, after handing in an appropriate construction intention and a building design in a minimum composition (first phase), is going to be the receiving of a construction permit. Instead of three decisions – to issue the architecture and planning assignment, to accept the building design, to issue the construction permit – the building authority is going to have to take only one decision – to issue the construction permit, in which are going to be included conditions that must be accomplished. Nevertheless receiving of the construction permit is not going to be a sufficient ground to start the construction works. Firstly, society has to be informed about receipt of the construction permit by putting out a construction board on the land on which the construction works are planned. After that fulfillment of the construction permit conditions has to be started as well as the preparation of an appropriate building design has to be ensured. Furthermore the construction works can only be started when the conditions included in the construction permit are accomplished, appropriate building design is constituted and a mark is made in the construction permit about the fulfillment of the aforementioned actions. The decision of the building authority on handing out the construction permit can be disputed in the term of one month from the day when the decision has come into force. This term can be renewed by the court if it ascertains that the informing of society about the construction permit has been clearly insufficient. On his own risk the customer can continue constituting the building design even when the construction permit is being disputed or appealed. When the building authority has made a mark in the construction permit about fulfillment of all the included conditions, the construction permit has become incontrovertible and the construction work can be started. Building processes that were started before the 1st of October 2014 have to be finished in the order set in to General Construction Regulations.
By the entry into force of the Construction law, lots of other regulations came into force as well as lapsed, other were replaced with new regulations. The new law introduces the state control office of construction which is a substitute to the three years ago liquidated State construction inspectorate. Moreover the new law more specifically regulates the competence of the participants of construction process, more widely regulates the fields of responsibility, as well as significantly changes the process of construction.
Conditionally the process of construction can be divided in the following stages:
1. Construction proposal
In accordance with the new law henceforth to propose construction firstly a construction intention has to be handed in to the building authority. Documents specified in the general and special construction regulations have to be handed in together with the intention. The content of the documents depends on the planned structures belonging to one of the three structure classification groups. Structures are classified into three groups depending on the construction process of the structure. The classification is regulated in Annex 1 of the General Construction Regulations (Cabinet Regulation No. 500, adopted 19 August 2014). The first group is the lowest group which includes uninhabitable one-floor buildings with specific features, for example, small-buildings, outhouses. The third group includes so-called “socially important structures” – structures with more than five floors meant for more than 100 people etc. The second group includes every structure that isn’t included into groups 1 and 3. When proposing the construction of a new structure which belongs to groups 2 and 3, a construction application and a building design in a minimum composition, which has to be designed according to the requirements of General Regulations for the Planning, Use and Building of the Territory (Cabinet Regulation No. 240, adopted 30 April 2013), need to be handed in to the building authority. Thus the building authority doesn’t have to issue the architectural and planning order anymore. A building design in a minimum composition consists of an interpretative description about the planned construction intention, general plan of the object of construction, structural plans of floors and roof with explication of rooms or room groups and of other components listed in section 28 of Building Construction Regulations (Cabinet Regulation No. 529, adopted 2 September 2014). The building authority will inform society about the construction intention within three days from the day of receipt of the application by publishing the information in the municipality webpage and in the construction information system. The construction information system is a State system, which includes the information and documents necessary for the construction process and its control and ensures circulation of information among public administration, control institutions and participants of construction, as well as involvement of the public in the construction process.
The building authority is going to organize a public debate about the construction intention, if the intended construction object is located next to a residential or public building and it can cause essential impact (such as smell, noise, vibration, other kind of pollution) and an environmental impact assessment hasn’t been conducted. In such case the building authority is going to take the decision only after the debate. The municipality is going to inform society about the taken decision in three days by publishing notice in the webpage of the municipality and in the construction information system.
2. Issuing the construction permit
Unlike it was with the previous regulation of construction when a received construction permit granted rights to start the construction work and was the last phase before construction work, the new regulation provides that the issuing of a construction permit is the next phase after construction proposal – handing in a construction intention and a building design in a minimum composition to the building authority, and that yet isn’t a sufficient ground to start the construction work.
A construction permit shall be issued if a building design in a minimum composition has been drawn up in accordance with the requirements of the laws and regulations governing construction, the construction intention conforms to the provisions for the use and building of a territory included in the spatial plan, local plan and detailed plan of a local government, except cases when a construction intention is related to an object of national interest. Construction permit is going to include a document that grants the right to start designing, also conditions for designing and commencing construction works are going to be included. The conditions for commencing construction works included in the permit shall be fulfilled within the term of two years from the day when a note is made in the building permit about the fulfilment of designing conditions.
A decision on a construction permit shall enter into effect from the moment it has been notified to the addressee. In addition to the cases laid down in the Administrative Procedure Law a construction permit may be revoked in accordance with the procedures laid down in laws and regulations by the issuer thereof, if the commissioning party who is the owner, possessor or user of the relevant immovable property upon whose assignment construction is carried out on the basis of the contract entered into, does not conform to that laid down in this Law or other laws and regulations governing construction.
3. Duty to inform the public
The commissioning party has a duty to inform the public regarding the received construction permit in the cases laid down in laws and regulations within five days by placing a construction board on the plot of land on which construction is permitted. In towns and cities the construction board has to be placed facing a public place but outside towns and cities – facing motorway. The following has to be indicated in the construction board – construction intention, (the address and type of construction), the commissioning party (person’s name and surname or the name, address and registration number of a legal person), construction intention plan with the building layout, but for the third group public buildings additionally – construction intention visualization according to environmental context, information about the time of construction permit’s entering into force, the date and number of the decision. A construction permit or a refusal to issue a construction permit may be contested or appealed within a month from the day when the construction permit or a refusal to issue a construction permit enters into effect. If the court or a higher authority ascertains that the informing of the public has been obviously insufficient, it can restore the term for contesting or appealing the construction permit.
4. Designing and fulfilment of the construction permit’s conditions
After receipt of a construction permit the fulfilment of the conditions of the construction permit is commenced, ensuring drawing up of a building design. The commissioning party has to reach an agreement with the person drawing up the building design about it by entering into a written contract. The building design has to be drawn up according to the restrictions and requirements laid down in laws and regulations, the contract about drawing up of the building design and qualitative professional practice in such extent so that it would be possible to determine the compliance of the upcoming building to the restrictions and requirements laid down in laws and regulations and other requirements. A building design for a second group building consists of a general part, architectural part, engineering part, work organising project, and in specific cases also of building energy efficiency assessment for the calculated energy efficiency. A building design for a third group building consists of the same components as a second group building design additionally including fire safety measures and an expertise of the building design. A recital of these building design components is listed in sections 71 and 72 of Building Construction Regulations (Cabinet Regulation No. 529, adopted 2 September 2014). Documents necessary for the fulfillment of the construction intention shall be prepared by the person drawing up the building design. Exceptions can be made according to special construction regulations. The commissioner is responsible for the creation of an appropriate design order. Designing at the risk of the commissioning party may be continued also during the time period when the construction permit has been contested or appealed. During the designing it is prohibited to make changes in the potential purpose of the buildings use. In specific cases during the designing changes can be requested considering emplacement of the building, construction volume and façade solution.
The person drawing up the building design has the right to perform author’s supervision. Parties shall reach an agreement regarding the conditions thereof by entering into a written contract. General construction regulations shall provide for cases when author’s supervision is mandatory.
5. Initiation of construction work after receipt of note in the building design
Construction works can be commenced only after the building authority has made a note in the construction permit regarding the fulfilment of all the conditions included therein, the fulfilment of the conditions for commencing construction works and the construction permit has ceased to be subject to appeal. The duration of the construction work, which has to comply to the term of civil legal liability insurance of the performer of construction work, as well as the maximum term for the fulfilment of construction work, by which it is possible to extend the construction permit and by which the building has to be put into service, demanded by the commissioning party shall be indicated in the construction permit. An annex in which the performer of construction work and the invited building specialists are indicated has to be added to the building permit. Construction works which have been commenced or are carried out without a construction permit or before a note has been made in the construction permit regarding fulfilment of the relevant conditions, in cases when the relevant decisions are necessary in accordance with laws and regulations, as well as construction works which do not conform to the building design and the requirements of laws and regulations shall be qualified as unauthorised construction. Unauthorised construction is also activity or construction works, which have been commenced without a relevant design documentation, if such is necessary in accordance with laws and regulations. If a building inspector detects unauthorised construction, the building inspector shall stop the construction works and write a relevant opinion about it.
The owner of the structure shall be responsible for the commencement or performance of construction work without a construction permit before a note has been made in the construction permit regarding fulfilment of the relevant conditions, if the relevant decisions are necessary for commencement of construction. The owner of the structure shall also be responsible for choosing a person who draws up the building design, performer of construction work and building supervisor and their conformity to laws and regulations. For the conformity of the extent and content of the building design with the requirements of the commissioning party, laws and regulations, as well for author’s supervision shall be responsible the person who draws up the building design.
6. Putting of the structure into operation
Acceptance of operation of a building or its part shall be initiated by the commissioning party. In 14 days after the receipt of a written request by the commissioning party, institutions which have issued the technical or special regulations according to their competence verify and give an opinion about the readiness of acceptance of operation and its compliance to the technical or special regulations and other laws and regulations of the building or its part. If a building or its part of the third group is put into operation additional opinion is necessary from the State fire-fighting and rescue service – for compliance with fire safety requirements, and from the Health inspectorate – for compliance with hygiene requirements. Until the acceptance of a building for operation it is prohibited to use it. During the acceptance of the building into operation the owner of the building has to ensure maintenance of the building and its elements. To control the operation’s compliance to laws and regulations, and also to control the possibility of circumstances of unauthorised construction and safety of the construction, a building inspector has the rights to visit the commissioner’s construction.
This information document has been made considering the version of Construction law adopted on the 1st of October 2014.
If you have any questions or you need further information, please contact LEXTAL Riga office lawyers.