Q&A: Home reconstruction
About 25% of Bulgarians live in dwellings in panel blocks. Built over 30 years ago, these numerous monuments of socialism are still the only home to many of us. The constantly changing lifestyle changes the requirements for our apartments. This also explains the massive reorganization that began in the early 1990s. Everyone has seen united rooms with the "favorite" vault or an adjoining balcony to the kitchen space. Here, as in many other cases, the Bulgarian understands everything and is competent in many issues. For them, regulations and consultation with a professional are mildly dirty words. Hardly 20% of the repairs related to the change of function or removal of load-bearing elements are legal and performed in the prescribed order. Sadly, however, fate always finds a way to show us that conceit does not bring about anything good. Should we wait for the next bigger earthquake to feel the consequences of our irresponsibility and, as it is often the case in our country, to cause mass checks after the next incident? That is why I would like to talk more about what we have to do before we make serious adjustments to our home.
Q&A: Do we need an architect and a structural engineer in order to make a reconstruction?
Above all, you need to be aware of what new features you want your home to perform - for example, the kitchen and the living room become one room or the bedroom has a direct door to the bathroom. When you are ready with your wishes, there are two ways to do it:
- Contact an architect. I am sure many of you will find this idea meaningless, but I assure you that this is the best and easiest option for you. He / she will advise you on how to quickly, qualitatively and economically fulfill your wishes, listen to your ideas and offer theirs. If your requirements are easy to implement, the role of the professional will be just consultancy. However, if a larger conversion is needed, it will be necessary to prepare a multi-part project (mandatory Architecture and Structures) depending on the complexity of the task;
- Find the solution yourself. I do not advise you to choose this option unless you are confident that you will do well. Keep in mind that all the steps will have to go by yourself, while in the first option you will only be involved with setting requirements and tasks for the designers. My advice to the ones who have jobs is to take a long vacation to dedicate to touring institutions, construction companies and shops. As far as the price is concerned, it is almost certain that this option will not be cheaper.
Q&A: What type of repairs require a building permit?
Once it's clear what the repairs will be, you need to check if you need to get permission from your municipality and neighbors to do it. This is done by reading the Art. 147 and Art. 151 of the Territorial Planning Act (TPA) or the best way to leave the assessment to the competent authorities in consultation with the municipal administration. Generally speaking, you will need to get permission if the repair involves interfering with the structural elements of the building and / or changing the use of the premises. If the question is controversial and you are not able to judge, you should always seek the opinion of a specialist. Do not choose the "easier" solution because you may be sorry.
Q&A: With what specialists is it necessary to coordinate a more complex repair?
If a repair permit proves to be necessary, one of the conditions for obtaining it is to prepare a constructive statement. If you initially commissioned your project to a professional, you certainly have the document in question. However, if you have decided to act on your own, you will need to contact a structural engineer to inspect the building or its plans (which should have been retained in the municipal archives) and determine the possibility of repairs. Most constructors believe that everything is possible, as long as it is done in the right way and with the right materials. So the chance to get a positive opinion is great, but the cost and difficulty of performance is different. According to the engineers, it is permissible to completely remove elements or make holes in load-bearing walls as long as a reinforcement steel structure (beam, frame, column, etc.) is installed in place to maintain the static structure and the stability of the building. Of course, every particular problem has its own specific solution, and the general theory would not be very useful here.