Review of building laws underway

November 24, 2011
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Regulatory requirements within the sector will be brought under one authority/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 24 – Efforts to bring sanity to the building industry are underway, with the review of four proposed legal documents by the Ministry of Housing and relevant stakeholders.

Speaking during a conference on Wednesday, Housing Minister Soita Shitanda says issues of dilapidated buildings, collapsing structures and proper guidance for the construction industry are all to be addressed in the review of the four laws.

“The benefits of these laws include orderly and coordinated developments. These laws provide for the recognition of modern building and construction technologies that are environmentally friendly. This will spur the industrialisation of housing to meet the rising demand,” he said.

The four documents to be evaluated include the Built Environment Bill, National Building Regulations, National Maintenance Policy and Building Surveyors Legislation Bill.

Under the Built Environment Bill that has been worked on by the Ministry since 2009, the housing sector is expected to be more responsive encouraging private sector investment into the country.

The regulatory requirements within the sector will also be brought under one authority to remove lapses in the regulatory process such as where to lay blame for collapsed buildings.

Out-dated guidelines found in the Building Code are to be revamped in the National Building Regulations as well that will see a shift from a prescriptive to a more performance based Code.

The Code as it exists dates back to 1968 and is based on a 1940’s building code developed in the United Kingdom.

Architect Reuben Mutiso, who spoke during the forum, said the building code lacks effective and objective controls and enforcement mechanisms.

“The Building code has been more of an impediment. This has resulted in continued development and existence of sub-standard buildings. It does not fully address industry concerns,” he said.

This then affects the poor maintenance culture in the country that has led to a back log of expensive maintenance works, which Housing Permanent Secretary Tirop Kosgey said will be addressed in the Building Maintenance Policy.

“Maintenance of buildings has tended to be nobody’s responsibility, but we want to bring this under the Built Environment regulations and the Code,” he said.

The policy will serve as a roadmap towards actualisation of the systematic maintenance of the built environment for the purposes of increasing the housing stock, meeting health and safety factors and sustaining investment.

Stakeholders also looked at the Building Surveyors Legislation Bill that seeks to establish a legal instrument to guide the activities of the profession.

Building surveyors will have a critical role in the management of building stock which will also assist in the area of maintenance.

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