Poland: The Awaited Revolution in Polish Construction Law – Will it Speed up the Investment Process?
→ Jan Bagatela
The Polish government is working on regulations to make administrative procedures related to the investment process simpler and more efficient.
Procedures in the construction process – current status
Administrative procedures related to the construction process in Poland are complicated and enormously slow. Obtaining all the necessary documents (in particular building permit) can take many months or even years. There are several reasons for this but the main cause is the complex, detailed, and unclear regulations; the dispersion of rules in multiple normative acts (statutes and ordinances); the excessive requirements for relatively simple buildings; and the frequent amendments to the law. All of this results in severe problems applying the construction law to the specific case.
The Building Code
Many actions to make administrative procedures more efficient taken to date were unsuccessful. This, however, may change in the near future. The Building Law Codification Committee appointed by the Polish government to unify regulations regarding the construction process (including spatial development and environmental issues) has adopted an outline of the Building Code.
The Building Code will replace several dozen legal acts that currently set out rules of the investment process and comprehensively regulate this process from the stage of designing and location of the building up to completion of construction and use of the building. The Committee also plans to eliminate many detailed technical regulations regarding building design, and to replace a number of administrative acts (decisions, permits, consents, etc.) necessary to obtain the building permit with one building consent. Also many arrangements that currently must be made with different bodies (eg, the fire service or the sanitary inspection) will be replaced by the opinions of those bodies (which are less formalised). Furthermore, obtaining a building permit will not be mandatory for single-family houses or small buildings; instead, an investor will notify the authorities.
However, to date, only the main assumptions of the Building Code have been adopted. Complete, detailed regulation is expected to be ready and presented to the government in November 2014. It means that if everything goes according to schedule, the Building Code can be adopted by the Polish parliament in 2015.
Amendment to the construction law
Meanwhile, the Polish government is working on the so-called “small amendment” to the construction law, which aims to simplify the administrative proceeding in the construction process. The main assumptions of the “small amendment” are:
- Eliminating an obligation to obtain a building permit for construction of single-family houses. Instead, an investor will be obliged to notify the authorities (delivering the building design) and if they do not oppose within 30 days, construction can start. Construction of a single family house will be easier. As building permits for such houses constitute a significant part of all issued building permits, making the procedure simpler will also probably lighten the relevant authorities.
- Eliminating an obligation to obtain an occupancy permit for smaller buildings such as workshops, car washes, warehouses. Instead, an investor will be obliged to notify the authorities upon completion of construction. As obtaining an occupancy permit may take some time (the procedure includes mandatory inspection of the building), replacing it with the notification should speed up completion of the construction process.
- Eliminating an obligation to enclose with the building design assurance and conditions of supplies by media providers and the road administrator a statement that the property can be connected with a public road. This will reduce procedures necessary to obtain the building permit.
- Obligating authorities to perform a formal examination of the application for building permit or notification of intended construction and a request that an investor eliminate possible defects of documentation within 14 days after filing an application or notification.
It is very possible that the “small amendment” will come into force in 2014.
Assumptions of the amendments to the construction law look very promising. Their adoption can significantly simplify and speed up the administrative procedures related to the investment process and make the construction law easier to apply. It may revolutionise the construction law in Poland. Of course, everything depends on the final shape of planned regulations and public authorities’ practice in applying them. But there is a hope for a positive reform of Polish construction law.