San Pedro Building Unit hosts informational session, talks new amendment to Building Act
Tuesday, August 20th, 2019
The San Pedro Building Unit hosted an informative session on the Unit’s functions and a new regulation that mandates all municipalities to establish a building unit. The meeting was held at the Sunbreeze Hotel on Friday, August 9th, and saw the presence of personnel from the Central Building Authority (CBA), the Department of Environment, the Ministry of Housing and Planning, Architects and Engineer Association of Belize, and The San Pedro Town Council.
Mayor Daniel Guerrero addressed the attendees, thanking them for attending the informational meeting. He told them that building is another big industry on the island, and they should take advantage of such events to clear doubts or learn something new.
The Technical Manager of the island’s building unit, Anthony Usher, expressed that the new regulation is intended at strengthening the municipality’s relationship with the CBA. He said that the new policy calls for each building unit at every municipality to be comprised of a technical manager and an inspector. Usher put as an example the San Pedro Building Unit, which has been in existence a little over a year and how successful it has been. Usher then handed over the microphone to the respective presenters of the evening, who explained the procedures of applying for a building permit.
Olga Tzec from the Ministry of Housing and Planning stated that a functional building unit is crucial in each municipality. “This should facilitate the application for building and occupancy permits at the municipal level,” said Tzec. She added that the Building Act was enacted in 2003 in order to control building construction at the national level. This led to the introduction of regulations such as building materials, methods of construction, repair, maintenance and demolishing of buildings.
Daniel Olivera from the CBA informed the attendees that the building unit is the last place they should visit when seeking an approval for a project. “You need to make sure you get clearance for from the Health Department, Fire Department, the Department of Environment (DOE) if it applies and any other necessary clearances, depending on the construction,” said Olivera. He explained that if of the required clearances are missing, permits will not be granted. In the case that the project meets all requirements, an inspection is then done before actual construction begins. During the construction period, the inspector of the Building Unit will carry out random site inspections to ensure that works are being done in accordance with the permitted documents.
If the project needs clearance from DOE, according to one of its senior officers, Kendrick Gordon, they will conduct a site inspection of proposed construction area. Based on the findings, the Department will decide if it needs an Environmental Impact Assessment or just and Environmental Clearance. Gordon says this procedure can take up to 30 days before a decision is made.
After the building is completed, the owner shall inform the Building Unit and request an Occupancy Certificate. The Unit will finish an inspection of the structure within 10 days in order to ensure the building was completed in compliance with the original plans.
Before the meeting wrapped up, Irvin Thimbriel of the Association of Engineers reiterated the need for hiring professional planners and engineers. He warned that sometimes people hire unqualified architects or engineers because it is cheaper. However, at the end of the day, if the job is not done well, the person or company could end up spending more than anticipated for bad labour.
At the end of the session, there was an interactive question and answer session, which was followed by a light social.
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