Building Industry Technical Committee Report recommends eliminating and introducing certain practices to mitigate danger

One year after the tragedy that claimed the life of Miriam Pace, who died buried in her own house while construction work was being carried out on the property adjacent to her residence, the report of the technical committee appointed by the Government shows that certain type of equipment should no longer be used by contractors, in the interest and safety of neighbours.

In comments to Television Malta and quoting the report, an independent architect said that the developer should not cut through the supporting wall to avoid certain problems in the building, while saying that after a building is constructed due consideration should be given to the possibility of issuing a certificate of compliance that the building is in accordance with the construction code.

The report of the technical committee on the construction industry said that equipment used for drilling, known as ‘musmar’ (pin/ nail), should no longer be used on all construction sites but should only be used at particular sites. The 36-page report prepared by four experts appointed by the Prime Minister stated that certain areas where certain machinery cannot be used should be delineated, in order to protect the interests of neighbours.

The committee argued that in recent years some contractors had begun to cut through neighbours’ supporting walls using this equipment – leaving no more than two and a half feet of space as required by law, between the supporting wall and the area where excavation takes place. The report said this was playing with people’s lives. The report pointed out that the contractor was also obliged, at his own expense, to invest in hoarding under the supporting wall, for greater security.

In comments to TVM, Samuel Formosa, who is an independent architect, said that the report says that the developer should not cut through the supporting wall, to avoid certain problems in the building.

“This poses a certain danger in fact and wha is being suggested is the use of more modern machinery which may be less harmful in some cases. Mention is also made of restrictions on the use of certain equipment on certain sites. depending of course on the terrain and the size and configuration of each site. ”

The committee that worked on the technical report said the Construction and Building Authority should be distinct from the Planning Authority. This new Authority, which will soon be set up by by Parliament, will incorporate the Office of Building Regulations, the Board of Building Contractors and the Board for Building Regulations – the latter will be transformed into a Tribunal empowered inter alia to hear appeals against decisions taken by the Authority.

A building permit or building compliance certificate has also been recommended. Before you start building you must first apply to the PA – as has always been the case before – now before and after the building is built a building permit or some form of compliance certificate is being suggested, i.e. to see if the building adheres to construction standards and codes.

In the report, the committee said that contractors should be regulated through a register, listing inter alia, their skills and expertise especially those specializing in drilling. On the role of architects in construction projects, the committee feels that they should not be involved in projects with any financial or speculative interests.