• Moureeze L. Franklyn

Building in SVG

Updated: May 14

Statutory Rule & Order (SRO) No. 20 Of 2019 Building Amendment Regulations 2019 substantially amended the Building Regulations attached to the Town and Country Planning Act as previously contained in SRO 43 of 2008.

In addition to applying to new buildings the regulations now also apply to the alteration, reconstruction, demolition, removal, relocation, maintenance and occupancy of existing buildings and structures.

The regulations previously were not applicable to buildings 2500 sq ft and under. Under the revised regulations, the exempt categories now include single dwelling houses 3000 sq feet and under, single dwelling houses with less than 2.5 stories, multifamily residential buildings accommodating less than 2 units, commcercial buildings under 600 sq ft, a building extension that results in a total building area less than 3000 sq feet.

New and existing buildings falling within these categories shall be exempt provided that they conform to the Building Guidelines or those pertaining to certificates of occupancy.

It is important to note that alll industrial and institutional buildings are subject to the new regulations and that any other building or development may be subject to the regulations if so warranted by the Chief Physical Planner on the advice of the Building Inspector.

In addition to this there are several classes of development to which hthe regulations do not apply. These include minor repairs where structural beams or load bearing supports are not removed, where means of egress are removed or changed, where parts of a structure affecting egress requirements are rearranged. Additions to, alterations of, replacements and relocations of standpipes, water supplies, sewer drainage, drain leaders, gas, soil, waste, vent or similar piping, electric wiring systems are similarly exempt as well as any other work affecting public health or general safety provided that the repairs do not violate any provision of the technical codes.

Temporary buildings or sheds used exclusively for construction purposes, garden huts (NOT garages) not used for habitation without a power supply, gates, fences and walls below 3’ 6” high on the roadside boundary and 6’ high on neighbours boundaries also fall within the exempt categories.

Permission in principle is only required for: greenhouses and other non residential agricultural buildings on farms, detached outhouses smaller than 215sq ft, mobile or modular structures used as temporary offices, ancillary buildings, and all works with an area smaller than 21.3 sq ft and no higher than 5ft including tombs, works for traffic and communications infrastructure, structures or facilities of electric utilities directly involved in the generation, transmission or distribution of electricity, extensions of less than 10% of total residential building square footage which results in a total building area below 3000 sq ft.

Applications may be made to the Planning Board for exemptions from any of the provisions contained within the regulations. If the Board is satisfied that it is not reasonably practicable to comply with any provisions and exemptions may be granted provided that no detriment would be caused to public health, safety and welfare.

There are now two additional pieces of applicable legislation which owners, developers and applicants should be aware of: the Architects Act 2011 and the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines National Trust Act Cap 459.

The 2008 provisions pertaining to repairs, alterations and additions necessary for the preservation, restoration, rehabilitation or continued use of a building or structure classified as a Historic Building remain much the same save and except that they must now conform with any guidance published by the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines National Trust.

As regards alternative materials and types of construction all tests required by the Planning Board to show that the materials and methods of construction proposed by the applicant meet the requjirements of the Regulations shall be carried out by the applicant at his expense. The testing agency to be used by the applicant must be approved by the Planning Board,

The Planning Board has also now been granted the power to require any work necessary to ensure the stability or proper operation of an existing or proposed building or other development for the public safety, health and welfare.

Buildings subject to the regulations shall be designed and constructed under the general supervision of a professionally qualified architect, engineer or building designer. The building designer can only SUPERVISE design and construction of RESIDENTIAL buildings.

Applications to build must now include: name, address and citizenship information of the owner of the property on which the building will be located, a description of the proposed development, the name address and contact information of the building designer and electrical consultant, and an analysis sheet (if requested by the Chief Physical Planner) to provide information including wind and earthquake loads, fire rating of the building, materials specifications and any other relevant information as may be required by the Planning Board.

Decisions in writing from the Planning Board on applications must now be issued no more than 3 months from the date of filing or resubmission.

The size of existing buildings on the land and on the lands immediately adjacent must now be shown on the site plan as well as the location of any watercourses on the land, the size and location of any new proposed building or the building as extended, the location of any public right of way on the land, the boundaries of the curtilage of the building or the building as extended and the size, and the location of existing utility, poles and stays.

Subdivision plans must also now show buffers required from watercourses, coastlines, roadways etc.

A statement as to the approximate location of any proposed connected to be made to the sewer muse be included where work includes the construction of a new drain or private sewer. Additionally if no connection is to be made to a sewer, a statement as to the proposals for the discharge of the proposed drain or private sewer including the location and type of any septic tank and associated secondary treatment system or any waste water treatment must be included.

Fire plans are now required and shop drawing for the fire protections systems shall be submitted to indicate conformance with the regulations as well as drawings which show specified details of the means of egress and drawings describing the exterior wall envelope.

Other requirements include Environmental Impact Assessments for developments which require such, topographic surveys for sites with slopes exceeding 15%, ad any other plans which are necessary to show that the work would comply with the regulations. Calulations for the determination of sizes of structural members and walls, water catchments, sewerage treatment and disposal facilities may also be required by the board.

The board may also require submission of special inspection and structural observation programs and other data for complex, specialized or hazardous buildings.

Site management and site grading plans may also be required by the planning board.

The board also has the power to require submission of a compliance schedule detailing the requirements for maintenance of specified building systems and other mechanical systems and fire protection installations during the operation of the building and replacing of materials that reach the end of life as wel as an annual statement of compliance in relation to the building systems’ maintenance confirming that the systems specified in the Compliance Schedule have been maintained and checked in accordance with the schedule for the previous 12 months and will continue to perform as required.

If a permission to develop is granted for a part of a building or other development the holder of such permission may proceed with construction of that part with the assurance ONLY that permission in principle was granted for the entire building or other development.

Information on inspection stages required shall be provided with the permit and include, fire safety inspections, public health inspections, inspections for granting certificate of completion.

In addition to scheduled inspections the building inspector may enter at any reasonable time to inspect or to perform any duty imposed by the regulations including during the operations of the building. All inspections shall be carried out by persons employed by the Physical Planning Unit as building inspectors or by suitable qualified persons approved by the Board and appointed to carry out such inspection. Building inspectors shall carry proper identification.

The owner is require to raise the property boundaries before setting out inspection and provide the planning board with 48 hour notice of requirement for inspection, exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays and declared Public Holidays.

The owner is required to notify relevant authorities of inspections required to be made in accordance with other law.s.

An inspection compliance certificate is issued after satisfactory inspection, the owner shall be notified in writing where the work does not meet with the inspector’s approval.

Approval as a result of inspection is not to be construed as an approval of a violation of the regulations or other laws.

Copies of the permit, approved drawings, inspection compliance certificates and other statutory approvals are to be retained at the constructions site during normal working hours for inspection by the building inspector or any other relevant authority.

Work should only be done up to the point indicated in each successive inspection unless written approval had been obtained from the Chief Physical Planner. This approval may be issued on site in a form authorized by the planning board. A written decision on whether inspection is passed or if not what is required to remedy the work which has failed inspection is to provided within 5 working days of inspection.

The approval of the Chief Physical Planner must be obtained before covering or concealing reinforcing steel or structural framework of any kind forming part of any building.

If the Chief Physical Planner fails to make an inspection within 7 days of receipt of the notice for inspection, the builder may proceed to the next stage, this however does not in any way absolve the paties from responsibility in any relevant contraventions.

Persons with development permission shall be issued a certificate of completion by the Planning Board upon application when all building work approved by the permission has been completed, inspected and approved. This is a formal statement that the building work complied with the permission. It shall also state whether a certificate of occupancy is required before the building can be occupied or put into use.

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