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DIR 02/24 | New BCA Forms

The Council has noted that two new forms were introduced by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) in recent days. These are the “Declaration to the BCA regarding Third Party Property Condition Reports and Excavation Affected Complexes” and “Certificate of Insurance”.

Members of the profession are being hereby informed that these two forms were not discussed and agreed upon by the Kamra tal-Periti. Many of you will recall that the BCA forms were a major sticking point back in 2019, and the repeal of directives by the Kamra was in part conditional to its review of and agreement with such forms. Indeed, several circulars had been issued regarding the BCA forms at the time*. The matter eventually also formed part of the Letter of Commitment signed by the minister and permanent secretary responsible for sector at the time.

It is pertinent to reiterate the fact that S.L.623.06 does not specify the use of forms, and thus their imposition by the BCA is considered ultra-vires at law. All BCA forms, besides the above two, are only in place because of the agreement reached with the Kamra back in October 2019.

As a result of the BCA’s failure to consult with the Kamra tal-Periti on the two aforementioned forms, the Council is hereby directing all members of the profession not to file them.

Members of the profession are kindly requested to keep an eye out for further communication from the Council in the coming days.

Perit André Pizzuto
President

*

https://kamratalperiti.org/cir-11-19-building-the-future-towards-a-renewed-profession/

https://kamratalperiti.org/cir-14-19-bro-forms/

https://kamratalperiti.org/cir-15-19-new-forms-for-use-prior-to-commencement-of-works-or-utilisation-of-planning-permit/

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PR 06/23 | Kamra tal-Periti finalises its investigation into GO Exchange incident

Verżjoni bil-Malti

Reference is made to the Kamra’s press release of 15th February 2023 wherein it was stated that it was opening an investigation into the incident that occurred in the site located in Psaila Street Birkirkara formerly housing the GO Exchange buildings to establish whether there any potential breaches by any of the periti involved in the project has occurred.

The Council had stated at the time that “[i]t is pertinent to underscore that the opening of an investigation does not imply any wrongdoing and consists in a fact-finding exercise to establish whether any professional malpractice did indeed occur. If the Council determines that there is a potential breach, the perit or periti involved will be afforded the right to exculpate themselves as provided for in the Periti Act.”

 

The Kamra tal-Periti is now in a position to announce the conclusions of its investigation:

  1. The demolition method statement did not instruct the contractor to execute the works as illustrated in the videos widely reported in the media;
  2. The contractor failed to follow the demolition method statement;
  3. The contractor failed to adhere with the instruction given on site by the STO on Thursday 9th February 2023 in agreement with the perit-in-charge to clear the site from demolition debris to allow the setting up of a mobile crane within the confines of the site before any further demolition works were carried out. This instruction was issued since discussions were underway between the perit-in-charge, the STO and the contractor on modifications to the method statement requiring the use of a mobile crane;
  4. The contractor appears to have decided to hastily proceed with the demolition works over the weekend as he sought fit in defiance of the instructions given by the STO instead of granting the time to the periti involved in the project to finalise the amended method statement;
  5. Moreover, the site manager failed to enforce the provisions of S.L.623.08.

 

The Council has thus determined that its investigation against the periti involved in this project would be closed since no breaches of the Periti Act were established. It is regretted that the Building and Construction Authority did not cooperate with the Kamra’s investigations.

 

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PR 05/23 | Kamra tal-Periti welcomes licensing of contractors – calls for talks on improvements

Verżjoni bil-Malti

The Kamra tal-Periti welcomes the fact that after campaigning for sixteen years, at long last the BCA has started receiving applications for the licensing of contractors. This is an important milestone for the modernisation and renewal of the industry.

The success of this licensing regime, however, is dependent on how willing the BCA shall be in disciplining contractors. Without a dogged determination from the BCA to take the necessary steps to bring professionalism to construction sites, these regulations will prove to have been an exercise in futility.

 

The Kamra tal-Periti notes however that there is scope for improvement in the regulations as published last week. The absence of compulsory Contractors’ All Risk (CAR), Employers’ Liability, and Liability Period insurance cover is a serious lacuna in the regulations, as also highlighted by the MDA.

While the Kamra recognises that regulation 5 (3) of L.N. 166 of 2023 stipulates that a licensed contractor is required to ensure works are covered by insurance, this causes an unnecessary burden on the BCA’s enforcement personnel and on clients to verify that insurance was indeed taken out.

The Kamra submits that it is far more practical to ensure that adequate insurance cover is a pre-requisite for the issuance of a licence, as is the case under the Periti Act which mandates that all periti must be covered by insurance prior to being issued a certificate to practise from the Kamra. The presentation of a licence card should be sufficient proof of coverage for clients.

 

The Kamra calls for urgent discussions with the Government and the MDA to address this lacuna, having taken note of the Malta Insurers Association’s unwillingness to provide such cover, by exploring alternatives to local underwriters.

Moreover, the Kamra calls for a timetable to broaden the licensing regime to include building services and finishing works in the medium-term to ensure that standards are raised across the industry.

 

 

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PR 01/23 | Kamra tal-Periti calls for real and effective deterrent for contractors

Verżjoni bil-Malti

On Saturday 11th February 2023, the Council of the Kamra tal-Periti opened an investigation to establish whether the incident that occurred in the site located in Psaila Street Birkirkara formerly housing the GO Exchange buildings gave rise to potential breaches by any of the periti involved in the project, including the perit in charge of the project and the site technical officer.

It is pertinent to underscore that the opening of an investigation does not imply any wrongdoing and consists in a fact-finding exercise to establish whether any professional malpractice did indeed occur. If the Council determines that there is a potential breach, the perit or periti involved will be afforded the right to exculpate themselves as provided for in the Periti Act.

 

Regardless of any professional shortcomings, no perit, whether acting as perit-in-charge or STO, can possibly control unscrupulous cowboys with questionable competence at the wheel of heavy machinery toppling over buildings into public spaces as witnessed in Psaila Street.

The fact is that the professional conduct of periti is heavily scrutinised, and rightly so. The Council of the Kamra takes its disciplinary role very seriously and will process this case employing the principles of fairness and due process to safeguard the periti being investigated as well as the public interest.

This contrasts sharply, however, with the scrutiny of contractors. Those involved will suffer no consequences for their actions as not only is there no comparable disciplinary procedure for contractors to that of the Kamra, but there is not even a licence to lose.

 

Without a deterrent of a real and effective punishment, the industry is overrun by anarchy, which is tempered solely by the goodwill of those periti, developers and contractors who feel a moral and ethical obligation to uphold standards against all odds.

 

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PR 02/22 | Licensing of Contractors

Verżjoni bil-Malti

The Kamra tal-Periti welcomes the announcement made by the Minister for Public Works and Planning, Dr Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi, regarding the imminent publication of draft regulations on licensing of contractors for public consultation.

This announcement comes after months of meetings with Ministry officials following the Extraordinary General Meeting held on 26th May 2022 during which the profession had insisted that such regulations should be published by October.

The licensing of contractors is a critical step in the renewal of the construction industry, and is essential for our country to meet the necessary qualitative and environmental standards demanded by the public, responsible stakeholders, European Directives, and the market.

 

The Kamra has been campaigning for licensing of contractors since 2007, and had secured a Letter of Commitment signed by the Minister responsible for the sector at the time in the wake of the spate of building collapses in 2019.

Although over three years have elapsed since the Letter of Commitment, the Kamra has doggedly persisted about the need to license contractors and shall continue to do so until a proper licensing regime is in place.

 

Following the Minister’s announcement, the Kamra was invited to attend a further meeting in the coming days to review the final draft regulations. The Kamra shall continue to offer its technical support to the Government to ensure that the implementation of this important regulatory development is not only undertaken competently and smoothly, but without any further delays.

 

 

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CIR 07/22 | BCA Clearances

Following the EGM held on Thursday 26th May 2022, the Minister for Public Works and Planning was informed of the approved motion and has agreed to instruct the BCA to suspend the coming into force of the Guidelines it had circulated at the Informative Session last Monday.

Periti are thus required to follow the procedures outlined in the BCA Guidance Note dated 17th March 2022, namely:

  1. To not file anything to the BCA when there are no works;
  2. To submit regulation 4 declarations when works fall outside the scope of S.L. 623.06
    (LN 136 of 2019, as amended); i.e., no third-party structures are affected.
  3. To submit regulation 26 declarations when works are of a minor scale and/or the potential risk of the works is limited to minor, superficial damages;
  4. To submit written requests for regulation 25 waivers signed by the beneficiaries of such waivers when appropriate, namely:
    1. Contractors:
      1. Appointing an STO
      2. Partial or full method statement
    2. Developers:
      1. Condition Reports

 

Perit André Pizzuto
President

 

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CIR 06/22 | BCA guidelines for the processing of applications

Further to the BCA “Informative Session” (sic) held yesterday, the Council of the Kamra tal-Periti hereby notifies members of the profession that contrary to statements made by BCA management, the Council was never consulted about the Guidelines published and circulated on the day, even less so agreed to their contents.

Indeed, the Council disagrees with the processes contained within this new document, which it read for the first time yesterday evening, on several grounds. In particular, the Council notes the fact that the guideline further exacerbates the BCA’s misinterpretation of the provisions of S.L.623.06 (L.N. 136 of 2019, as amended).

The Council shall be elaborating further during the Extraordinary General Meeting to be held on 26th May 2022 at 4pm at the Catholic Institute, Floriana.

 

Perit André Pizzuto
President

 

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CIR 03/22 | Project Risk Assessment

Further to Section 4 of Circular 01/2022 published on 21st March 2022, the Council is herewith publishing guidance on the preparation of risk assessment reports in support of waiver requests, or to be forwarded to the contractor for the preparation of method statements.

This guidance reorganises the contents of the schedules in Subsidiary Legislation 623.06 (LN 136 of 2019, as amended) such that documentation is drawn up in full compliance with current regulations while ensuring the positions of conflict are avoided.

Once discussions on the overhaul of S.L. 623.06 (LN 136 of 2019, as amended) are concluded and brought into force, it has been agreed with the BCA that the Kamra shall be issuing revised guidance on risk assessment which would not be strictly bound by the aforementioned schedules.

 

 

Guidance on
Project Risk Assessment

 

A comprehensive project risk assessment, drawn up by the perit responsible for the design and specification of engineering works, should include:

 

1. The identification of the risks involved, after taking account of the structural condition of the construction itself and contiguous buildings, including:

 

1.1 Description of the structure system used for floors (e.g reinforced concrete slabs, stone slabs on timber beams, concrete frame, etc).

1.2 Description of the structure system used for transmitting vertical load (e.g. masonry walls, concrete columns, foundations, etc).

1.3 Sketch plan of each contiguous building.

 

 

2. Where additional construction over an existing building or part thereof is to take place:

 

2.1Checks showing that any existing floors are capable of sustaining the additional load being imposed by the new construction these should include:

a) an estimate of existing and proposed loads in every floor, and a declaration that the structural elements of each individual floor are capable of sustaining the additional loads when checked in accordance with established codes of practice;

b) a description of any additional reinforcement work that may be necessary in each floor.

 

2.2 Checks showing that the foundations of the building are capable of sustaining any additional loads placed over the existing storeys. These should include:

 

a) an estimate of the existing and proposed loads at foundation level;

b) information about the nature of the foundations of the building, including type and dimensions, or where this is not available, a statement about the design assumptions in accordance with codes of practice;

c) information on the nature of the ground, supported by the respective ground investigation reports that shall be attached to the works specifications.

 

 

3. Where excavation is to take place:

 

3.1 A description of the loads acting on the ground within the excavation affected zone, including:

a) Clear identification of the structural system of the building, within this zone, describing how load is transmitted to the

b) An estimate of the load reaching foundation level, in kN/m or

c) Identification of the type and dimensions of foundations within this

d) An estimate of the bearing pressure at foundation level in kN/m² in the case of strip footings, pad footings and raft

 

3.2 A description of the excavation affected zone, explained schematically inclusive of a dimensioned plan that includes the following:

a) the limits of excavation;

b) the depth of each part of the excavation;

c) the affected zone of the excavation, shown shaded and dimensioned;

d) the properties and buildings belonging to third parties that fall within the affected zone of the

 

3.3 A description of the ground conditions. This should include the following:

a) identification of ground materials through the geological map of the Maltese Islands;

 

b) (i) information from any ground investigation reports that fall within the immediate surroundings, specifically within the affected zone; OR

(ii) information from other periti who have built or supervised excavation in the immediate surroundings, after having obtained the necessary consent to use this information; OR

(iii) information from a ground investigation that would need to be commissioned for the proposed project. This investigation shall be carried out from within the site that is to be excavated. In the case of excavations not exceeding 2m in depth, such information may be obtained from trial pits, whereas borehole drilling with full recovery shall be required for all other proposed excavation depths. If agreement is reached with the neighbouring third parties within the affected zone, boreholes shall be drilled, inclined, from within the site that is to be excavated, into the ground beneath the neighbouring third party properties.

 

3.4 Identification of the risks involved in carrying out the excavation, taking into account the expected strength of the ground materials, the presence or otherwise of fissures, and the loads within the affected

 

4. Additional Recommendations:

 

Moreover, the perit responsible for the design and specification of engineering works shall also include in the Project Risk Assessment requirements regarding the content of the method statement/s, including:

 

4.1 Any recommendations the perit deems necessary regarding the sequence of works to be undertaken on the basis of the risk assessment.

Provided that in the case of excavation, this should include:

a) where the excavation is to be started from;

b) any phasing required to achieve the required rock buttressing;

c) the levels that should be attained in each stage of the

d) Subject to the provisions of the Civil Code (Cap. 16.), where underpinning is to be undertaken, full details of how the underpinning works are to be executed, supported by scaled plans, sections and detailed drawings. A description of how the underpinning works are to be phased in relation to other excavation work needs to be

 

4.2 Any project-specific measures the perit deems necessary to safeguard the stability of the works being undertaken, the stability of contiguous structures or terrain as the case may be;

 

4.3 The precautions and safeguards to be adopted, including:

a) against instability of the structure;

b) for parts thereof being demolished or altered;

c) for any contiguous structures;

d) any monitoring readings that are required to be undertaken during demolition and excavation, describing where, how and what is to be measured and what results are to be tolerated prior to taking ulterior

 

Perit André Pizzuto
President

 

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CIR 01/22 | Updates regarding S.L.623.06 (LN 136 of 2019, as amended)

UPDATED 13/05/2022

 

 

 

 

 

The recent changes in the processing of clearance requests filed by periti on behalf of their clients to the BCA have brought to the fore yet again the serious issues related to the Avoidance of Damage to Third Party Property Regulations, S.L.623.06 (LN 136 of 2019, as amended).

Ever since the publication of these regulations in the Government Gazette on 25th June 2019, the Council of the Kamra has never ceased its efforts to have these regulations replaced with a sound suite of regulations that would align our industry with best-practice legislation found in the rest of Europe, in the interest of public safety and quality in the built environment.

Our efforts may not have been visible, and we have been very often restrained in our communication about the extensive discussions happening behind the scenes. This restraint was not because we did not feel the need to keep you updated, but because successful negotiations can only happen when the parties around the table demonstrate good faith and discretion.

Many periti have frequently reached out to the Council privately to express their frustrations or vented their disgruntlement on the Periti Discussion Group on Facebook. We have listened to every word and read every post and comment. We understand what you have been going through because all of us on Council are also in practice and go through the same things you do on a daily basis. We also share your deep concern about how the profession has been abused to make up for the grave shortcomings in the industry and its gross regulatory failures.

These shared concerns motivate the Council to doggedly and incessantly push for regulatory reform, no matter how long it takes or how long-winded the discussions are.

 

We are now in a position to update you on some of the progress we have made.

 

1. PROCESSING OF CLEARANCE REQUESTS

 

On 17th February 2022, when the Council was alerted by members of the profession that significant changes to the processing of commencement/clearance requests had been suddenly brought into force, we requested an urgent meeting with the BCA. After three meetings, lasting approximately 11 hours in total, we have reached an agreement on the new procedures that will be adopted by the BCA on clearance requests going forward.

The new procedures are outlined in the Guidance Note issued by the BCA linked below.

 

This guidance note reflects several positions the Kamra has been advocating for the past 32 months and 25 days, namely:

 

  1. The role of STOs as intended in the regulations, albeit questionable, is to supplement the setup of contractors. Exemption requests for the appointment of STOs should thus be made by contractors since it is their responsibility to appoint them. The perit-in-charge should have no involvement whatsoever in any such exemption requests.
  2. The provisions of the regulations do not distinguish among projects of differing scale and risk. The full application of the regulations for projects that do not result in any risk to third-parties, such as the removal of surface top-soil or floor build-ups, is excessive and disproportionate.
  3. Periti should be given the opportunity to exercise their professional judgement in assessing the site-specific risk of each project. Many of the new procedural provisions found in the BCA’s guidance note rely on the risk assessment of the perit-in-charge in determining requests for partial waivers of provisions in the regulations. However, such waiver requests should be filed by the beneficiary of such requests, namely the developer or the contractor, as applicable, and the BCA should make a determination on whether such a waiver request is accepted. Periti should not be compelled to carry liabilities for others.
  4. There should be a distinction between periti forming part of the design team, and those working in the contractor team. STOs and periti drafting method statements should form part of the latter team. This is clearly inferred in the Guidance Note.
  5. The BCA is clamping down on the indiscriminate use of regulation 26 to circumvent the regulations altogether. The BCA has presented Council representatives a number of outrageous regulation 26 requests signed by warrant holders that are grossly irresponsible and negligent, and which are bringing the profession into disrepute among BCA officials as a result. Although the BCA has never filed complaints to the Kamra about individual periti, the Council will not hesitate to open conduct cases should complaints filed by the BCA be substantiated.

 

It is important to also underscore that the negligent behaviour of some periti resulting in insurance claim settlements, is one of the reasons why PII insurance premia continue to rise. It is the Council’s duty to the entire profession to uphold standards to ensure warrant-holders practise professionally at all times.

 

The requests for waivers under regulation 25 as outlined in the guidance note may be filed in the form of a letter signed by the developer or contractor, as applicable, and submitted together with the risk assessment by the perit who applied for the permit, who would not carry any professional liability for the request. There are no specific forms issued by the BCA envisaged for the filing of such requests.

 

The Kamra has always discouraged periti from using regulation 26 declarations, and has recommended to periti the use of regulation 25, instead, when appropriate. The BCA has now adopted the Kamra’s position on this matter, as evidenced throughout the guidance note.

The potential implication of regulation 26 declarations, with no review or assessment by the BCA, is that periti signing them may be carrying third-party liability on their own. On the other hand, the fact that regulation 25 waiver requests would necessitate a determination by the BCA and would not bear the signature of the perit-in-charge would ensure that third-party liability would be apportioned in the manner that has long been established by the Civil Code.

Nevertheless, the Kamra has consistently maintained that LN 136 of 2019 (as amended) can only work through exemptions and waivers, making it a deficient piece of legislation that was hastily drafted and must be replaced at the earliest opportunity.

 

2. AMENDMENTS TO LN 136 OF 2019

 

The Kamra is engaged in concurrent discussions with the BCA on overhauling the provisions of LN 136 of 2019 to make it work. As you will certainly be aware, the Council had published a redraft in April 2021 which encompassed most of the recommendations found in the Quintano Report. The redraft was circulated among periti and the media for feedback and recommendations.

Securing amendments to LN 136 of 2019 is, of course, an interim solution until a more comprehensive suite of building and construction regulations are published and the licensing of contractors is brought into force. We understand, however, that this process is not envisaged to be completed in the short-term.

Thus, the BCA agreed with the Kamra to undertake immediate discussions on the amendments to the legal notice necessary to address its main deficiencies and eliminate all scenarios that may result in positions of conflict forced upon members of the profession by the regulations themselves.

The objective is to ensure that such amendments are brought into force in the short-term.

 

 

3. DIRECTIVE ON PRACTISING ETHICALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY WITHIN THE CONSTRAINTS OF LN 136 OF 2019

 

As many of you will be aware, the Council organised an Extraordinary General Meeting last December to consult with members of the profession on the principles behind a Directive the Council had drafted. The draft directive’s purpose was to reinforce the separation of the design team and contractor team, and consequently the separation of roles and liabilities of periti within the two distinct teams. Such demarcation will ensure that the confusion about professional liabilities that has arisen since these regulations came into force is addressed, and will provide direction to periti on how to comply with the First Code in the Code of Professional Conduct of Periti (S.L.390.01) governing positions of conflict.

This new Directive, whose principles were unanimously approved by the EGM, will be issued in the very near future.

 

 

4. GUIDANCE ON RISK ASSESSMENT

 

In previous sections of this circular, we have made mention of the requirement for periti-in-charge to draw up risk assessment reports as part of the new waiver procedures.

The Council has prepared guidance on how periti are to undertake a Risk Assessment, extracting those elements from the schedules of LN 136 of 2019 that should be prepared by the perit-in-charge, or a perit within the design team.

Guidance on the preparation of risk assessment can be found in CIR 03/22.

 

 

Perit André Pizzuto
President

 

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