‘A manager needs to be on-site for all key decisions’ – construction consultation

Photo by Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

A competent site manager needs to be on site for all key decisions made about a construction project, new building amendments state.

This is one of the proposals being put forward in a new public consultation on amending laws and regulations associated with safety and scrutiny of building and construction sites and for possible third parties affected.

The new amendments outline changes to the carrying out of construction as well as to excavation works, ensuring there is the avoidance of danger both to works and the public.

In addition to ensuring that decision makers are on site, the consultation is also calling for a much clearer process for identifying those involved in a project as well as dealing with grievances and issuing fines against those key individuals like architects and contractors, ‘or anyone else involved in any such works defaults on the said roles and responsibilities.’

Building collapses and suspensions of works

The public consultation, which is only open for five days, comes in response to a number of building collapses which occurred due to construction and excavation works happening adjacent them.

The most recent of these incidents happened near Hamrun last week in which the wall of a residential home collapsed, making a family homeless.

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Following consultation with key organisations like the Malta Developer’s Association and Kamra Tal-Periti, the Prime Minister called for a temporary halt to excavation works along with the launch of the public consultation on amendments.

Geotechnical surveys

In addition to creating greater accountability and decision making, the consultation also states that excavation works would require architects to, ‘prepare a geotechnical design report which, if the need arises, should be supported by a geological survey’

Being solely responsible for this report, ‘the architect has to establish beforehand, the rock characteristics, the geometry of the rock and whether it has fissures so as to determine the foundation stability, the strength of the rock itself and the load paths of surrounding buildings. All this has to be noted in the geotechnical design report which every developer is required to submit through an architect.’

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‘The geotechnical design report is of fundamental importance because it is only after such analysis that the architect will be in a position to indicate exactly the type of machinery that could be used and the measures that should be taken during the course of excavation works. This means that the arbitrary use of machinery such as trenchers and chainsaws close to party walls in the absence of a geotechnical design report is being prohibited. The architect who endorses the geotechnical design report must also ensure that the recommendations are taken on board,’ the consultation adds.

Building and Construction Regulator

While the Ministry for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects outlines that they are working on the creation of the Malta Construction and Building Authority, they stress that recent events have motivated them to focus on regulations first.

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The, ‘Ministry is of the opinion that in view of the incidents that have occurred in recent weeks, and also in view that the process to establish the new Authority is a more laborious and intricate one, the need to establish new regulations imminently is needed.’

The public consultation is expected to close on Friday the 21st June 2019.