The tragedy that took place on Avtandili Street visualized the problems with unaccepted buildings. A certain part of our society drew links between the exploitation of the issue of acceptance and corruption schemes. Tbilisi City Hall released a statement in response. Under the current legislation, gas network safety issues have no connection with the regulation of of buildings in exploitation, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze said.
In 2006, the law on state supervision was composed found in Article 5, regulating architectural-construction activities, under which it was forbidden to enter and live in those buildings which had not been deemed acceptable for service. But this article was annulled in 2009. As a result, today, people can enter and start living in those buildings which are not put into exploitation.
The mayor of Tbilisi also talked about changes that were implemented in 2018.
“The fine for the illegal revision of suspended construction projects increased 10 times, up to 50,000 GEL. The fine for unlicensed construction projects rose 2.5 times to 25,000 GEL. The fine for carrying out construction works by violating of project parameters rose to 15,000 GEL. As for the fine for the violation of safety norms on a construction site, it increased 10 times to 30,000 GEL.
The municipal inspection office was formed on the grounds of the supervision of services. Its resources doubled, and today 300 people work for it to react to violations of construction standards. Regulations against noise were also added. As a result of these amendments that were implemented in 2018, fines exceeded 10 million GEL”, Kakha Kaladze noted.
In response to the question of why the Georgian Dream authorities have not corrected the mistakes made by the previous regime 6 years ago, Tbilisi Vice Mayor Irakli Khmaladze noted:
“The legislation was amended in 2009, and this segment was deregulated. After this, we got a situation where several tens of thousands of families live in unapproved buildings. Today, the revision of this system will collide the interests of these families. Deregulations brought negative results, and tens of thousands of citizens live in building which have not been accepted as exploitable. Imagine what will happen if we revise the existing legislation,” Khmaladze said.
The Caucasus Business Week (CBW) has made inquiries regarding the position of development companies, too. Namely, why the aforementioned buildings are not approved as exploitable, and whether this issue should be resolved or not.
“There is no ready recipe for resolving the problem with informal buildings being brought into service and people living in them”, Tornike Abuladze, Executive Director of the ARCI Development Company noted.
The problems result from unprofessional staff and a large legacy in the sector. This sector must be regulated. People without money and capital must not be allowed to begin construction works. The City Hall must have guarantees that, prior to issuing licenses, the new projects will be finished definitely, he added.
“Let’s imagine that 100 residents have bought apartments. And the developer managed to finish the project 5-8 years later. The building was found with certain defects at the moment of inspection, and the developer was unable to correct the mistake, and city hall could not take responsibility and, consequently, city hall did not accept the building as serviceable
When the client receives their apartment 5 years later, the developers do not dare tell the client to enter the apartment after it’s being used, otherwise the developer should have an alternative. That’s why, in our country, a lot of projects remain in the air, and this signifies these projects cannot satisfy legislation requirements. However, this does not imply that the building is not structurally stable. In 90% of these cases, the projects cannot satisfy the visual appearance requirements, and misses the initial design requirements. For example, initially, the developer planned to coat the building with wooden materials, but the expense of the materials increased costs, and the developer could not cover all costs. Therefore, the developer decided to only plaster the walls. As a result, the building was ejected from the project, and the building was not accepted into service”, Tornike Abuladze said.
Bezhan Tsakadze, the founder of G7G Plus Development Company, explains that apartments are sold in the construction process, and this practice is not banned by legislation. Therefore, similar apartments are owned by physical or legal bodies. They are authorized to repair their apartments and live there.
“This issue was made apparent after the recent tragedy that took place in Didi Dighomi. This component does not refer to the developer. We hire contract companies for gas and electricity network improvements, and they do this work in the building, and they write a conclusion. Therefore, there is no problem with the acceptability or unacceptability of putting buildings into service. Without proper residential conditions, nobody will come live there. I mean water, gas, electricity, elevator and so on. If the developers do not let the clients enter the apartments and live there, the development sector will bear the losses”, Tsakadze noted.
As it is commonly known, physical and legal bodies submit applications to Tbilisi City Hall to bring buildings into service. As a result, the supervision service discusses these applications, and takes building into service. According to indicators from Tbilisi City Hall, in 2016 a total of 159 buildings were not taken into exploitation because of various reasons.
Buildings and construction works are divided into classes based on risk factors for the purpose of issuing construction licenses and accepting them into service. A total of 62 unaccepted buildings belong to categories III and IV, which include parameters such as multifunctional buildings and multistoried residential.
The aforementioned buildings belong to the category of medium and high risk factors. Their acceptance into service confirms that their quality satisfies these requirements, such as structural steadiness norms and other factors. Therefore, there are risks that buildings that are accepted into service may have various technical defects as well, and this may pose a threat to their residents.