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New Regulations to Increase Housing Costs and Delays Due to Mandatory Shelter Requirements, Warn Developers

LAWNew Regulations to Increase Housing Costs and Delays Due to Mandatory Shelter Requirements, Warn Developers

Assuming that each multi-family investment will soon have to provide temporary shelter spaces in underground garages, the increase in the price per square meter of new apartments will reach several hundred zlotys. Realizing an investment that, by administrative decision, must be equipped with shelters will be about 30% more expensive than a standard project, according to calculations by the Polish Association of Real Estate Developers (PZFD).

The PZFD has thoroughly analyzed the government’s draft law on civil protection and civil defense, as well as the accompanying executive regulation. The conclusions?

The industry believes that the need to increase the level of civil protection in emergency situations is essential, and private investors should be a part of the defense system. However, the pace at which these changes are to be implemented is incompatible with the time required for the investment process.

Too fast and no chance to adapt

– The legislator assumes the new regulations will come into force 30 days after publication in the Journal of Laws. This means that soon every new multi-family investment will have to be designed with the new regulations in mind, including the provision of shelter spaces. Considering that the design and approval phase of a building project takes several months, a 30-day vacatio legis would effectively delay the start of planned investments by several months. This would cause significant setbacks, forcing the industry to redesign investments en masse to obtain building permits compliant with the shelter law. Therefore, it is necessary to extend the vacatio legis to avoid paralysis, says Bartosz Guss, General Director at the Polish Association of Real Estate Developers.

The biggest impact on new housing production will be Article 73 of the draft. According to this article, underground floors in public utility buildings or multi-family residential buildings, as well as underground garages, must be designed and built to allow the organization of temporary shelter spaces if a shelter or hiding place has not been provided. Temporary shelter spaces are the lowest category of facilities intended to ensure the protection of the civilian population, which will soon be a common element in new investments. However, the executive regulation being processed along with the civil protection law does not specify the criteria for such spaces. Instead, it refers to temporary hiding places. This is just one example of the inconsistencies in terminology found in government documents. Temporary hiding places should include:

– Protective zones in garages (for up to 300 people) with 40 cm thick walls and double protective and hermetic doors,
– Emergency lighting powered by battery rooms,
– Additional exits from the garage beyond the rubble area in case of building collapse,
– Manual ventilation dampers (valves) with a D-class seal,
– Listening devices in garages (FM receiver with an antenna leading to the emergency exit shaft) and a hygrometer.

Who will pay for this?

Implementing all the listed elements will incur additional costs.

An analysis by one of the companies affiliated with the PZFD indicates that currently, there are no available ventilation dampers with the specified class in the regulation, nor protective and hermetic doors/gates. Their prices may soon become speculative, leading to even higher implementation costs. Today, in the case of needing temporary hiding places, the cost increase is estimated at 300 PLN per square meter of usable residential space, says Aleksandra Kordalewska, a legal advisor at the Polish Association of Real Estate Developers.

According to Article 83 of the draft law, civil protection authorities (e.g., mayors or city presidents) will be able to allocate funds to cover the costs of constructing protective structures. However, funding is expected to cover up to 80% of the expenses. This means that the costs for additional protective infrastructure may be reimbursed, but not necessarily in full.

The difficulties in estimating costs are not the end of the problems.

For larger residential projects (over 300 residents), additional zones will need to be designated in underground garages. This requirement may conflict with local plans, which often set limits on the underground floor area. Such contradictions will block the implementation of planned investments. Significant challenges will also arise from the obligation to provide additional exits from the garage outside the rubble area in case of building collapse. This investment will be challenging for projects located on the borders of building plots, where special vertical shafts will need to be designed, explains lawyer Kordalewska.

Therefore, it is crucial to improve the project. The real estate market recognizes the need to increase the level of civilian protection and sees the commitment with which the changes are being made. However, in their current form, they create excessive burdens and need appropriate modification, concludes Kordalewska.

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