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The revolution of the Polish construction industry, or the digitization of bureaucracy

20 of October '20

Is the building permit procedure likely to be completely automated? Architect Maciej Zuber, SARP's Board of Directors plenipotentiary for BIM and president of the association's Bielsko-Biała branch, talks about the amendment to the Construction Law, the BIM system in Poland, the digitization of the investment process and the chances of submitting construction documents online.

What's keeping the owner of a design studio, and at the same time a representative of the architectural community, awake at night today?

Maciej Zuber: From the point of view of our work, the most important thing at the moment is to streamline the procedures for obtaining building permits or development conditions. This concerns both the number of documents required and the duration of administrative proceedings.

An amendment to the Construction Law came into force in September. What is its reception in the architectural community?

Maciej Zuber: The amendment was needed and long awaited by all market participants - both investors, designers and contractors. Already at the stage of applying for a construction permit, fewer documents will be required. One of the most important provisions is also a clarification of what this documentation should contain. After the amendment, the investor will attach only part of the construction project to the application for a building permit, and not all the documents, as was previously the case. For example, the technical design, which contains a lot of details such as construction data, installation plan, etc., will be able to be handed over to the construction manager before the start of the work, while the construction supervisor's office will only receive it together with the application for an occupancy permit. This is already a considerable convenience. However, it will still be required to accompany the application at the initial stage with a site development project (location in the area, impact of the facility on neighboring buildings) and an architectural and construction design.

You are also a plenipotentiary of the SARP Board of Directors for BIM and co-author of the recent study "BIM Standard PL." Aside from being a useful tool at the design stage, can BIM help simplify the entire construction investment process?

Maciej Zuber: BIM(Building Information Modeling) is changing, and one can even dare to use the word, revolutionizing the entire construction industry. It is not only a tool of the design company, because it also brings concrete benefits to the investor, the contractor and, after the investment is completed, also to the property manager. It is very often identified with a 3D model of a 3D building. Meanwhile, BIM - in addition to a virtual spatial image of the object - contains comprehensive data about the investment, such as location in the field, various measurements, the type of material used, the strength of structural elements, and even work schedules.
Our experience with BIM is now to be used in the next stage of digitizing the investment process. The Ministry of Development and the General Office of Construction Supervision are responsible for it. In the working group, in addition to the Association of Polish Architects, representatives of the Polish Chamber of Civil Engineers and the Chamber of Architects of the Republic of Poland are represented. The idea is to consult as widely as possible. This is because we are working on a project that will usher in the digital era of the construction process in Poland.

What are the results of this work?

Maciej Zuber: The digitization process is currently in the pilot phase. Seventeen selected counties and municipalities in the country are participating. These include large cities such as Warsaw, Gdansk and Poznan, as well as smaller ones, including Kielce, Mielec and Bielsko-Biala. Now the submission of an application with a construction project in digital form is being tested. Unfortunately, but in parallel you still have to deliver the project in paper form, as there is no legal basis for this for now. This is expected to be addressed by the Parliament soon. The next stage, which is expected to start soon, will be the ability to send the completed form along with documentation in PDF files signed with the Trusted Profile and submit a complete application through the e-building service.
In parallel, an electronic central registry of people with construction authorizations e-CRUB is being created. Its creation will avoid the need to attach construction authorization documents to a construction project.

When will it be possible to submit construction documents online?

Maciej Zuber: I think a realistic date for the completion of the digital platform will be the end of next year. If successful, this year will certainly be a breakthrough year.

To what extent will digitization reduce the waiting time for permits?

Maciej Zuber: The platform will ultimately have two sides of contact, i.e. the petitioner and the office, and not several entities as before. On top of that, the time for correspondence between offices (today still in the form of traditional correspondence) will drop off. Thus, it can be assumed that the time will be reduced by at least half.

How would a platform supplemented with BIM data work?

Maciej Zuber: To put it briefly: the entire procedure related to the construction permit would be completely automated. It would be possible to control the investment at every stage - from obtaining development conditions to receiving the building occupancy permit.

The current role of offices would also change somewhat.

Maciej Zuber: If we assume that local governments will sooner or later develop Spatial Information Systems with models of underground and aboveground infrastructure and supplement them with information on existing buildings (including shape and location) and provisions of Local Plans or Zoning Decisions - then it will also be possible to quickly verify compliance of investments with the development conditions they regulate. It would be unnecessary, for example, to determine the extent of the object's impact on neighboring buildings, because this could be verified in the system. Similarly, acceptance by construction supervision would be unnecessary. The authority would simply be one of the participants in the process. The model is able to confront the technical design at the beginning of the project and its completion. And signal whether significant changes have occurred, and this would in turn give the office full knowledge of any deviations. Implementation of the authority's recommendations would also be done electronically. Imagine how many applications submitted with amendments in the traditional form could fall away. And what a time-saver for everyone.

The vote has already been cast