Ministry of Construction: we have developed five steps to reduce construction time

20.05.2020

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin drew attention to the excessive bureaucratization of the construction industry, which, among other things, often complicates work in emergency situations. Deputy Minister of Construction and Housing and Public Utilities of Russia Dmitry Volkov told RIA Real Estate how the agency works in this direction.

– Dmitry Anatolyevich, the president has set the task of developing measures to “redistribute” the construction industry. However, similar work was carried out earlier. Are there opportunities for even more streamlined procedures now?

– We believe that, despite the work done over the past year, there are significant opportunities for increasing the speed of construction, not only by improving technology and increasing labor productivity, but also by reducing the administrative burden and improving the quality of the technical standardization system. Work in this direction began in 2019, and now we can distinguish five main directions, or, in other words, five steps, having taken which, you can get serious progress in terms of construction speed without serious risks of appreciation, safety or controllability in urban development.

These steps relate to working documentation, expert and project support, territorial planning, model design, technical regulation and special regulation for emergency situations.

– Tell us more about them.

-Firstly, this is a transition to multi-stage design and the “built-in” capabilities of the construction process to make and evaluate changes to the project without stopping construction. Last year, we introduced the so-called expert and design support in the Town Planning Code. This allowed changes to be made to the project without the need for re-examination. Evaluation of each change can be done at the choice of the builder by the chief engineer of the design organization or an expert organization that issued a positive opinion initially. This already allows you to save three to six months in almost every investment project.

It is necessary to take the next step and introduce expert support even before the start of design, before the stage of preparing the design assignment, at the stage of conception or preparing the rationale for investments. This practice is becoming increasingly widespread in the implementation of public investment, especially in emergency situations, for example, the elimination of the effects of floods in the Irkutsk region. So we can further shorten the examination period and the construction as a whole by at least another month.

In addition, it is required to switch from the current one-stage, or rather to return, to multi-stage design, which is consistent with Soviet experience and international practice. The bill, returning used in practice, but completely unregulated concept of working documentation, went through the procedure of all necessary approvals in the government.

– At the same time, builders lose significant time on the preparation of urban planning documentation …

– Amendments to the territorial planning schemes, master plans, land use and development rules that now need to be done before the design and construction start can take not even months, but drag on, together with land issues, for one to two years. The number of changes required, for example, for the Nizhny Novgorod agglomeration exceeds 700 units per year, due to the rapidly changing economic and urban planning situation. At the same time, only 87 of the 309 territorial planning projects are “awaiting” such changes, the rest cannot be approved until more than a year has passed from the moment of introduction. The ability to develop and approve territory planning projects before changing master plans, STP and PZZ along with a serious simplification of the procedure for making changes to them, as well as designing and starting construction in parallel with solving land issues, can shorten the construction period by several months, and for individual projects – for several years. The relevant regulatory acts of the Ministry of Construction have already been developed and can be adopted in the very near future.

– Is there potential for reuse projects?

– The issue of supplementing the use of reuse projects with standard design has been repeatedly discussed. Typical design decisions, eliminating the need to undergo most lengthy procedures, such as examination, can reduce builders three to six months or more. The bill has been prepared, its approval in the government is being completed. Work on the creation of libraries of such projects on the basis of re-use projects, in particular, on primary health care facilities, is already underway.

– Representatives of the industry also have questions on technical regulation. What to do with “SNIPS“?

– Indeed, the existing system of technical regulation in construction is criticized fairly. Unfortunately, in recent years, controllability in this matter has been constantly deteriorating. It’s a big misfortune that we have left the “single channel” of their adoption. This is not the first time the President has been paying attention to this. As a result of the meeting of the State Council on Construction in 2016, it was instructed to exclude cases, the publication of regulatory and technical documents without coordination with the Ministry of Construction, but all practical steps in this area are very difficult. So, now documents with mandatory requirements for designers and builders, which are needed both during the examination and during the implementation of state construction supervision, are being developed by seven federal authorities. This is not anywhere in the world! This gives rise to numerous conflicts, duplications and redundant requirements.

To reduce the number of mandatory requirements, the Ministry of Construction, within the framework of its competence, has developed relevant changes to the so-called “list 1521”, where they are fixed. This reduces their number by 30% (from about 10 thousand to 7 thousand requirements). The next step should be that the president also commissioned following the meeting of the State Council on Construction in May 2016, the creation of a “single-channel” technical regulation according to the principle: everyone develops, and releases and is responsible for the absence of collisions and duplication – one. At the same time, it is planned to replace the list of individual mandatory requirements with compact and systematic building codes that are mandatory for use, containing exclusively necessary things. This will further reduce the number of mandatory requirements by about 4 thousand more. Changes to the technical regulation on the safety of buildings and structures necessary for this are developed and are at the last stage of approval before being submitted to the government. The government instructed to reduce the construction time.

In addition, last year the unified register was legislatively regulated, which will contain all the documents necessary for the examination and state construction supervision, which is extremely important for builders. The by-laws necessary for its work have also been developed and the necessary approvals have passed, and may also be adopted in the near future. Building standards, reducing the number of mandatory requirements to a reasonable minimum, “single-channel” technical regulation will make it possible to reduce the so-called “additional” documents, first of all, special technical conditions (STU) and various design justifications, an increase practice which has been outlined at present. So, for example, the number of STUs being developed in 2017 exceeded 2.5 thousand. In 2019, they have already been developed by more than 4.5 thousand. Given the fact that each STU costs from 500 thousand to 3 million rubles or more and “takes” 1-2 months, this quasi-participant in the construction site begins to negatively affect the process. The proposed measures can reduce their number by multiple, making the STU mechanism really an exception to the rule, which is necessary only when there is no other way out.

– What can change in construction in emergency situations?

The importance of working in emergency situations in recent times, we have realized especially clearly. Any, even the most perfect rules, calculated on a regular basis, in this case, as a rule, are not suitable.

Let’s look at an example. In the “ordinary” investment process, in the simplest case, for the construction of, for example, a model hospital of lightweight constructions, subject to allocated funding, it is required to: allocate land and bring urban planning documentation in compliance (6-18 months), organize a design competition (2 months ), design (1 month), undergo an examination (2 months), organize a tender for construction (2 months), build (1-2 months), put into operation and register the rights to land and real estate (1 month). Total 16-28 months. The design and construction process in this case takes 10-18%. The rest is the administrative burden, permissions, execution. We call this the coefficient of efficiency. In this case, it is 0.1-0.18. Such a ratio cannot be called effectiveness.

When implementing the changes we are proposing, the terms are very significantly reduced: allocate land and bring urban planning documentation into line – 1 month, organize a design competition – 2 months, design – 1 month, pass an examination – 0 months, organize a competition for construction – 2 months, build – 1-2 months, put into operation and register the rights to land and real estate – 1 month. Total 8-9 months. Design and construction already takes 30-40% of the time. That is, the efficiency coefficient is 0.3-0.4. In projects of more complex and durable buildings with a standard construction period of, say, 12 months, it rises above 0.7, and this is already not bad.

It is clear that in an emergency this is not enough. All processes, including design and construction, must be carried out in parallel. It is necessary to exclude the loss of time for competitive procedures. This will reduce the project implementation time almost to the standard construction period and make the efficiency coefficient more than 1. To do so under “ordinary” conditions is hardly rational. In a significant number of construction projects, time is required for “conflict prevention”, including those related to the opinion of the population. This is especially true for housing and commercial construction. It takes time for a quality check of solutions in order to avoid future technological disasters. However, when we eliminate the effects of a flood, fire or epidemic, speed becomes absolutely paramount. Thus, a special procedure for the implementation of construction projects in an extremely difficult situation, established by law and not requiring the adoption of decisions that are essentially similar each time, will allow to “allow to build”, “build” and “complete the construction” for a time shorter than the standard design and construction period. The same applies to building codes, which in this case can be simplified, while realizing that we consciously sacrifice part of reliability and durability, winning in terms and price. The relevant proposals by the Ministry of Construction have been prepared and can be implemented already this year.