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PR 10/20 | No time for further delay

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This morning, yet another worker lost his life on a construction site following the collapse of a wall within the site. While the details of the incident are still emerging, one thing is amply clear: the construction industry is rife with systemic and fundamental deficiencies that must be addressed without further delay.

While the Kamra tal-Periti is fully cognisant of Government’s efforts in the past months to draft legislation that will bring about the much needed changes, it is evident that the lack of focus and resources is severely hampering progress in this respect. The outcome of the recommendations by the Committee appointed by the Prime Minister have still to be made public, and despite several lengthy meetings with the various stakeholders in the industry we are still far off from seeing significant results.

This situation is no longer tenable. Further delay is not an option.

On its part, after urging successive governments to bring about significant changes to the industry since 2007, the Kamra tal-Periti had published its draft proposals for A Modern Building and Construction Regulation Framework in May 2019. These were presented to all industry stakeholders, including the Chamber of Engineers, the Chamber of Commerce, the Building Industry Consultative Council, the Building Regulation Board, the Building Regulation Office, the Building and Construction Agency, the Planning Authority, the Malta Developers Association, and the Malta Insurers Association. All these entities and organisations endorsed the Kamra’s proposals and there is therefore industry-wide consensus that such proposals are both necessary and desirable.

The proposals were also presented to the European Commission and the Opposition, as well as to Government which, through a Letter of Commitment issued in August 2019, finally recognised the need for a comprehensive reform of the building and construction industry, and committed itself to implement the Kamra’s proposals.

After having taken on board all the feedback received, the Kamra tal-Periti published the final version of its proposals in June, and were positively received by the industry.

The Kamra tal-Periti urges the Prime Minister and the Ministers responsible for the industry in all its aspects to fulfil Government’s commitments of last August without further delay. It is unacceptable that a country which aspires to portray itself as “the best in Europe” remains complacent to these tragedies which have become all too common. The country deserves better.

 

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CIR 15/20 | Breach of Legal Notice 136 of 2019 – Site Technical Officer fraud

It has come to the Kamra’s attention that a person who is not qualified to take on the role of Site Technical Officer has, on a number of occasions, presented himself to Permit Holders as being qualified to take on such role and subsequently signed the Site Responsibility Form, which was then unwittingly uploaded by the periti responsible for the respective projects.

After being alerted to this matter, the Bulding and Construction Agency (BCA) advised such person that this was unacceptable. Said person, however, persisted in trying to defraud the system by presenting Permit Holders with Forms apparently signed by, to our knoweldge, at least two different periti, however it later transpired that such periti had not signed such Forms, and that their signatures had been copied and used without their consent. This latter fraudulent action has been reported to the BCA for the necessary action to be taken.

Periti are reminded that:

  • Only persons who have been authorised by the BCA to provide the service of STO should be indicated on the relevant Forms – the list of registered persons is updated regularly and may be viewed here;
  • According to Legal Notice 136 of 2019, as amended, the Site Technical Officer shall be “nominated by the contractor and shall be accepted by the perit in charge of the project”, and that as part of its discussions with Government, the Kamra had only agreed to the requirement for periti to “accept” the STO as long as a list of registered persons is published and regularly maintained – refer to point 3.1.2 of the Letter of Commitment which Government presented to the Kamra in August 2019, and further elaborated in Ciircular 14/19.

 

In view of this situation, it is recommended that periti go through their active projects and ensure that the appointed STOs are in fact indicated on the STO register, and that such persons are aware of being indicated in this role. In case of any anomalies, periti are requested to immediately inform the BCA, copying the Kamra tal-Periti, for further action.

 

The Council cannot stress enough the importance of adherence to legislation, in view of the serious consequences that may arise in cases of incidents on construction sites.

Yours sincerely,

Simone Vella Lenicker
President

 

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PR 09/20 | Kamra tal-Periti celebrates its centenary

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Today the Kamra tal-Periti celebrates a century of service to the profession and to society.

The foundations of the Kamra were laid amid the Sette Giugno uprisings of 1919 when, despite the turmoil brought about by the riots and the end of the Spanish flu pandemic, the new Governor, Field Marshall Herbert Charles Onslow Plumer brought into force the Architects’ Ordinance on the 25th July 1919. Less than a year later, on the 12th June 1920, he enacted Government Notice 202, which established the Chamber of Architects, now known as the Kamra tal-Periti.

As the sole recognised professional body representing architects and civil engineers in Malta, the Kamra’s  mission is to support members of the profession in achieving excellence in their practice of architecture and engineering in the interest of the community. It is also delegated with the duty of enquiring into any charge of professional misconduct or abuse made against any periti in connection with the exercise of their profession or with professional matters.

Over the years, the Kamra tal-Periti has established itself as the voice of the profession, and has taken on the role of promoting values of economic, social, cultural and environmental sustainability amongst its members, as well as promoting beauty in architecture and the built environment.

General Meeting of the Camera degli Architetti

As it traces its roots over the past century, the Kamra tal-Periti is now looking towards a future which is founded on a key set of principles: Quality, design, community, progress, identity, innovation, culture, sustainability. These are the elements that must shape our built environment, forging the very essence of the spaces we inhabit in the present, and for generations to come.

 

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CIR 14/20 | COVID-19 Pandemic: Lifting of restrictions // Update 7

By means of Legal Notice 232 of 2020, Government repealed a number of Legal Notices published during the pandemic, including the Protection of Vulnerable Persons Order, 2019.

In view of this, Directive 11/20 regarding Vulnerable Individuals & Site Inspections is hereby repealed.

Although certain restrictions have been released, it is noted that the pandemic has not yet been declared to be over, and therefore certain measures should still be implemented, particularly those relating to social distancing. Reference is here made to Circular 13/20, which presents various recommendations that may be followed as applicable.

Meanwhile, kindly note that the Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OHSA) has issued a document entitled ‘COVID-19 and your Workplace: FAQs’, which brings together the most frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19 and workplaces.

 

Yours sincerely,

Simone Vella Lenicker
President

 

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PR 08/20 | A Modern Building and Construction Regulation Framework

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In May 2019, the Kamra tal-Periti had published its draft proposals for A Modern Building and Construction Regulation Framework. These were presented to all industry stakeholders, including the Chamber of Engineers, the Chamber of Commerce, the Building Industry Consultative Council, the Building Regulation Board, the Building Regulation Office, the Building and Construction Agency, the Planning Authority, the Malta Developers Association, and the Malta Insurers Association. All these entities and organisations endorsed the Kamra’s proposals and there is therefore industry-wide consensus that such proposals are both necessary and desirable.

The proposals were also presented to the European Commission and the Opposition, as well as to Government which, through a Letter of Commitment issued in August 2019, finally recognised the need for a comprehensive reform of the building and construction industry, and committed itself to implement the Kamra’s proposals.

After having taken on board all the feedback received over the past 12 months, the Kamra tal-Periti has now published the final version of its proposals. These are focused around ten main principles, namely:

  1. The separation of planning permit and building permit processes;
  2. Clear well-organised regulatory processes designed to promote public safety and quality, in the interest of the consumer, rather than being focused on ascribing blame post-accident;
  3. Clear distinction between the regulations governing building (the permanent works) and those governing construction processes and temporary works;
  4. The proposed Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is to take on the consolidated role of the assessment of buildings, building authorisations, enforcement, and monitoring of the construction processes, with the 22 public entities hitherto entrusted with the different areas of interest, becoming key stakeholders in the drafting of regulations and guidance documents;
  5. Major projects and public buildings to be subjected to an independent review, particularly in terms of structural design and fire engineering through the introduction of a new professional figure (Engineering Auditor);
  6. Contractors are to have the specific skills required, and to be classified and licensed according to such skills – they will be solely responsible for the process of construction, including temporary works, and would therefore have full possession of construction sites for the duration of the works;
  7. The enforcement of construction regulations to be delegated to private service providers – referred to as Building and Construction Inspectors (BCIs) – licensed by the BCA;
  8. Contractors to be required to certify that the executed works comply with the design instructions, and with the requirements of the Construction Products Directive;
  9. The construction phase will be concluded by the issuance by the BCA of a Compliance Certificate, which, inter alia, authorises that the building can be brought into use; and
  10. Post-occupancy checks and audits to be undertaken as predetermined by the BCA to ensure the continued compliance of the structure with building regulations.

The launch of these proposals is not the end of a process. It is the beginning of a new era in the building and construction industry. COVID-19 has highlighted the lack of sustainability of our previous ways – now is the perfect opportunity to look to the future with a new vision … a vision that is more sustainable, that still focuses on economic progress but that places more emphasis on safety and quality.

 

The Kamra tal-Periti is fully committed to ensure that these proposals are implemented and assures Government of its full cooperation in achieving this leap forward, bringing the industry firmly and squarely into the 21st century.

 

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CIR 13/20 | COVID-19 Pandemic: Site inspections and site operating procedures // Update 6

At the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, periti were among one of the first groups of economic operators to adapt their working practices in so far as their offices are concerned. In a survey carried out by the Kamra tal-Periti in the beginning of March, periti reported to have already implemented various social distancing measures, including the cancellation of non-essential meetings and subsequently the introduction of video conferencing, sanitisation of their office environment, and in 56% of cases the introduction of remote working.

While periti have a significant amount of control over their office environment, the same cannot be said for construction sites, and in situations where periti are required to inspect occupied properties for varied reasons.

The following are some practical guidelines to be followed in order to minimise the risks of contraction of  COVID-19. These have been approved by the Health Authorities.

 

Inspections of occupied residential properties

It is recommended that prior to inspecting an occupied residential property, the owner / client / tenant is requested to:

  • Declare that none of the occupants of the property returned from overseas during the 20 days prior to the date of inspection;
  • Declare that none of the occupants of the property have contracted the COVID-19 virus and are under mandatory quarantine as imposed by the relevant Authorities;
  • Declare that none of the occupants of the property are under mandatory quarantine for any other reason as imposed by the relevant Authorities;
  • Declare that none of the occupants of the property are aware of having been in contact with a person who has contracted the COVID-19 virus during the 20 days preceeding the date of inspection; and
  • Declare that none of the occupants of the property fall under any of the categories of vulnerable persons as detailed in Legal Notice 111 of 2020 – if the latter is not the case, the procedures set out in Circular 11/20 are to be followed.

 

It is also recommended that periti request that, on the date of inspection, the owner / client / tenant ensures that:

  • There is not more than one person present in the property;
  • All doors and windows are opened prior to the inspection to allow full access to the property without needing to touch any surfaces;
  • A distance of 2m is maintained at all times.

 

Inspections of occupied commercial properties

The measures to be applied will depend on the nature of the property in question, its size, density of occupation and also on the purpose of the perit’s inspection. In general, however, it is recommended that prior to inspection the owner / client / tenant is requested to:

  • Declare that none of the regular occupants of the property have returned from overseas during the 20 days prior to the date of inspection;
  • Declare that none of the regular occupants of the property have contracted the COVID-19 virus and are under mandatory quarantine as imposed by the relevant Authorities;
  • Declare that none of the regular occupants of the property are under mandatory quarantine for any other reason as imposed by the relevant Authorities;
  • Declare that none of the regular occupants of the property are aware of having been in contact with a person who has contracted the COVID-19 virus during the 20 days preceeding the date of inspection; and
  • Declare that none of the regular occupants of the property fall under any of the categories of vulnerable persons as detailed in Legal Notice 111 of 2020 – in such case the inspection should not be carried out unless the presence of the person concerned is absolutely essential, and then only after having followed the procedures outlined in Circular 11/20.

 

For the purposes of the above, a “regular occupant” is considered to be an owner or employee or consultant or client or service provider or any other person who regularly accesses the property, and who has visited the property during the 15 days prior to the date of inspection.

 

It is also recommended that periti request that, on the date of inspection, the owner / client / tenant ensures that:

  • The number of people present in the property is kept to the bare minimum essential for the inspection to be carried out;
  • All doors and windows are opened prior to the inspection to allow full access to the property without needing to touch any surfaces;
  • A distance of 2m is maintained at all times.

 

Construction site inspections and meetings

In the case of construction sites, it is recommended that declarations similar to the ones outlined above are obtained from the contractor/s with regard to their workforce. These may include:

  • Declaration that none of the personnel present on site have returned from overseas during the 20 days prior to the date of inspection;
  • Declaration that none of the personnel present on site have contracted the COVID-19 virus and are meant to be under mandatory quarantine as imposed by the relevant Authorities;
  • Declaration that none of the personnel present on site are meant to be under mandatory quarantine for any reason as imposed by the relevant Authorities;
  • Declaration that none of the personnel are aware of having been in contact with a person who has contracted the COVID-19 virus during the 20 days preceeding the date of inspection; and
  • Declaration that none of the personnel fall under any of the categories of vulnerable persons as detailed in Legal Notice 111 of 2020 – in such case the inspection should not be carried out unless the presence of the person concerned is absolutely essential, and then only after having followed the procedures outlined in Circular 11/20.

In the case of sites where regular inspections are carried out, it may not be feasible to require these declarations prior to each and every inspection. It is recommended that the declaration is requested initially, and that the contractor/s is/are requested to inform the perit, the owner and the Project Supervisor immediately upon registering any change to the declarations. Periti may request a declaration at regular intervals, for example once a month.

In addition, it is recommended that:

  • Only personnel who are absolutely necessary for the site inspection to be carried out are present on site at the time of inspection
  • Attendees should maintain a distance of 2m from each other
  • Rooms should be well ventilated and windows opened to allow fresh air circulation
  • Wherever possible, meetings should be held outdoors

 

Construction site operating procedures

It is also important that the welfare of all personnel on sites is catered for at all times. This may be easier to achieve on larger sites, where contractors may be better equipped to provide certain facilities. Nevertheless it is recommended that all contractors are encouraged to implement as many measures as possible on their sites in order to minimise as much as possible the risks of exposure.

The Kamra tal-Periti has prepared a guidance note – Site Operating Procedures | Guidelines for construction sites during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is based on various recommendations by international organisations, and has also been presented to the local Health Authorities.

It is recommended that periti forward this document to their clients, and to the contractor/s and Project Supervisors appointed on the site which fall under their responsibility, and that these are encouraged to implement these measures for the safety of all.

 

 

General measures

In addition to the above, the following guidance documents issued by the local Health Authorities are being referred for your perusal:

 

Furthermore, it is recommended that periti wear community masks while carrying out their duties as outlined above, in addition to the standard PPE, and that they use sanitiser whenever necessary.

 

Yours sincerely,

Simone Vella Lenicker
President

 

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CIR 12/20 | Transposition of EU Directive 2018/844

Two new Legal Notices have been recently published to transpose Directive (EU) 2018/844 on the energy performance of  buildings and on energy efficiency.

 

LN133 of 2020_Energy Efficiency and Cogeneration (Amendment) Regulations, 2020

This Legal Notice obliges the Building Regulation Board to issue a long-term strategy for mobilising investment in the renovation of buildings, and to update such strategy every three years.

 

LN134 of 2020_Energy Performance of Buildings (Amendment) Regulations, 2020

This Legal Notice amends the Energy Performance of Buildings Regulations to bring them in line with Directive (EU) 2018/844. There are a number of changes that relate mainly to building engineering services, and it is recommended that you advise your clients and their consulting services engineers of the contents of these new regulations in so far as they are applicable to your projects.

It also obliges the Building Regulation Board to “establish a long-term renovation strategy to support the renovation of the national stock of residential and non-residential buildings, both public and private, into a highly energy efficient and decarbonised building stock by 2050, facilitating the cost-effective transformation of existing buildings into nearly zero-energy buildings.” Furthermore it obliges the Building Regulation Office to undertake various provisions for financial assistance to improve energy performance of buildings and to establish regular inspections of heating and air-conditioning systems.

 

 

Two new Regulations of particular relevance to periti are Regulation 5(5) and Regulation 5(10) which stipulate that:

 

5(5) “New non-residential buildings and non-residential buildings undergoing major renovation, with more than ten parking spaces, shall be installed with at least one recharging point within the meaning of Directive 2014/94/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council and ducting infrastructure, namely conduits for electric cables, for at least one in every five parking spaces to enable the installation at a later stage of recharging points for electric vehicles where:

(a) the car park is located inside the building, and, for major renovations, renovation measures include the car park or the electrical infrastructure of the building; or

(b) the car park is physically adjacent to the building, and, for major renovations, renovation measures include the car park or the electrical infrastructure of the car park.”

 

5(10) “New residential buildings and residential buildings undergoing major renovation, with more than ten parking spaces, shall be installed with ducting infrastructure, namely conduits for electric  cables, for every parking space to enable the installation, at a later stage, of recharging points for electric vehicles, where:

(a) the car park is located inside the building, and, for major renovations, renovation measures include the car park or the electric infrastructure of the building; or

(b) the car park is physically adjacent to the building, and, for major renovations, renovation measures include the car park or the electrical infrastructure of the car park.”

 

Although the Legal Notice gives power to the Minister to exempt certain types of buildings, no such exemptions have as yet been issued, and therefore these Regulations are considered applicable to all situations as outlined above. One of the situations contemplated in the Regulations where the Minister may issue exemptions concerns those building where the relevant applications have been submitted prior to 10 March 2021. The Kamra will be corresponding with the Minister to apply such exemption in order to allow the market to adjust accordingly, however until then the provisions of the regulations must be implemented.

 

Regulation 9 includes an obligation on EPC assessors to “provide information to the owners or tenants of buildings on energy performance certificates, including their purpose and objectives, on cost-effective measures and, where appropriate, financial instruments, to improve the energy performance of the building, and on replacing fossil fuel boilers with more sustainable alternatives.

While trusting that you will peruse the new regulations, please do not hesitate to contact the Kamra tal-Periti through email on buildingregs@kamratalperiti.org should you have any queries.

 

Yours sincerely,

Simone Vella Lenicker
President

 

COVID-19 Impact on Periti // Bulletin 03

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PR 07/20 | Earth Day is every day, and anywhere you are

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Today, the entire planet is marking Earth Day 2020, which this year is focussed on climate action.

Climate change is currently the biggest challenge being faced by humanity, as it also struggles with the severe impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Any challenge, however, is also an opportunity for positive change in ensuring a more sustainable future.

At the end of 2020, Malta, along with all other signatory nations, is expected to increase its national commitments to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. Just two days ago, Minister Aaron Farrugia announced that Malta had joined 16 other EU countries in backing a call to put the “European Green Deal” at the heart of a post-coronavirus recovery. The respective ministers are urging Europe to remember the challenges of climate change when putting forward long-term strategies for a resilient recovery from the current crisis, and stated that while all efforts should be focussed on fighting the pandemic, we must “begin to prepare ourselves to rebuild our economy and to introduce the necessary recovery plans to bring renewed, sustainable progress and prosperity back to Europe and its citizens. While doing so, we must not lose sight of the persisting climate and ecological crisis. Building momentum to fight this battle has to stay high on the political agenda.

This is indeed a very welcome step. Malta has, for many years, failed to meet its obligations on various matters ranging from waste management to emissions, and from over extraction of resources to uncontrolled energy use. We simply cannot afford to carry on with our past attitude to these matters – the Kamra tal-Periti therefore fully backs Malta’s renewed commitment to ensure that things will change, and remains hopeful that this is not just an exercise in paying lip service to these ideals.

On its part, the Kamra tal-Periti is committed to collaborate with Government in achieving these goals. For many years it has been lobbying for significant changes in the building and construction industry, which is known to be one of the biggest contributors to climate change. In May 2019, it published a comprehensive proposal for an overhaul of the building and construction regulation framework, which proposal has the support of all the main players in the industry, and which is aimed at ensuring that our building stock is more safe and efficient, and that it is focussed on quality rather than on quantity. These proposals were recently presented to the Committee established by Prime Minister Robert Abela, and the Kamra looks forward to the outcome of the consultation process being undertaken by said Committee.

Last October, the Kamra tal-Periti took the important step of signing up to the Davos Declaration titled “Towards a high-quality Baukultur for Europe”, and to date remains the only Maltese organisation to have done so. The Declaration, which was endorsed by the European Ministers for Culture in January 2018, calls for quality, joint responsibility and cultural sustainability to be at the core of our policies relating to the built environment, and stated that “We urgently need a new, adaptive approach to shaping our built environment; one that is rooted in culture, actively builds social cohesion, ensures environmental sustainability, and contributes to the health and well-being of all.” They also acknowledged the importance of adding “economic value by creating higher-quality and more durable assets and favourable conditions for economic prosperity within society (by using) resourced sustainably, thus ensuring that future generations will also be able to benefit from positive social and economic development.

The Kamra tal-Periti will continue to strive to ensure that its members place sustainability at the core of their practices and professional responsibilities, to promote and improve standards with the aim of ensuring better quality buildings and open spaces, and to acknowledge the important role that we play in ensuring a better quality of life for our citizens. However we cannot do this alone. Government must become the champion for a better built environment, not only by investing in good design but also by being acutely aware of the consequences of its policy making and decision-taking in all fields.

The challenges faced by our built environment will not be easy to overcome but they can be with concerted action, shared responsibility and commitment to the development of a vision which catalyses all stakeholders to work for better quality places that bring dignity, pride and real delight to their users. Earth Day 2020 can be an important moment for our citizens to rise up, with millions of people around the world, to demand the “creativity, innovation, ambition, and bravery that we need to meet our climate crisis and seize the enormous opportunities of a zero-carbon future.