Why do I need a building permit and what happens if the owner doesn’t apply for it?

Making a new home and moving in it understandably creates excitement and enthusiasm, it’s a bit like the beginning of a new life. While much of Europe involves a lot of time, effort and often considerable expense in the construction of a new house, in Estonia it is relatively easy to do business.

A permit for the use of a new dwelling must be obtained from the local government. The term license can sound like unnecessary paper smearing, which takes time and money. Read more about why a license is necessary and mandatory in practice.

Pursuant to the Building Code and the Planning Act Implementation Act, the data in the building register will be organized by 1 January 2020. By that date, all buildings subject to a permit (all buildings with a floor area of more than 20 m2) should be entered in the building register.

Why do I need a license?

A permit for use is mandatory according to the Building Act, in the absence of which a precept is issued and a reasonable time is given to obtain it. The Building Act obliges the owner to apply for a permit for use upon completion of the building.

The local government already has the right to apply a penalty payment arising from law, for example, if the inspection of the building register data reveals that the building is in use without a permit for use. The maximum penalty payment is 6,400 euros for a natural person and 64,000 euros for a legal person.

The permit confirms that the building has been constructed in accordance with the project, that its heating stoves, gas appliances and electrical system comply with the requirements of the law and are therefore safe for residents and the environment.

What happens if the owner does not apply for a permit?

Lack of authorization proves to be a problem in various situations.

Let’s take out insurance first – in most cases, the owner still wants to insure the new house. The insurance, of course, asks for a permit to use it, because in the eyes of the insurer it is a dwelling under construction and the sum insured is completely lower than in a completed dwelling.

It can always happen that you want to take a loan for a house – even banks ask for a permit and insurance immediately.

What is involved in buying a house without a permit?

It’s like “buying a piglet in a bag”. For example, in a recent residence, the new owners of which had come from an apartment building in the city, there was a suspicious smell of stink in the fireplace and in the room, which seemed to the former townspeople to smell like a romantic fireplace. A quick glance showed that there was very little missing in the house bought from the fire! The fireplace and chimney were built in complete disregard of all fire safety requirements. Fortunately, the new owner had realized in time that the documents of the bought house could be in order, so the inspectors could draw attention to the danger.

When buying a house without a permit for use, expertise in fire safety, gas and electricity systems is highly recommended even if there are no plans to insure the house or take a loan. Due to the risks related to the lack of a permit for use, the prices of these houses are also lower, which is also useful for real estate sellers to know.

It is especially difficult to sell a house without a permit to foreigners, for whom the existence of permits seems even more basic.

How should those who own unauthorized houses behave?

These owners should contact the rural municipality government and apply for a permit. The rural municipality government will send an inspector who will provide information on the necessary documents. Assuming that the house has been built according to the project and that the heating stoves, gas and electrical systems also meet safety requirements, obtaining a permit for use is quick and painless.

If the Rescue Board or the supervisory inspector has doubts about safety, a corresponding expert examination or assessment of a specialist in the field shall be ordered. If safety deficiencies are identified by an expert examination, they must be rectified before authorization can be granted.

It is by no means a pointless bureaucratic hassle, but to ensure the safety of the owner himself and his relatives.

Source: Postimees.ee

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