Country House: Dream or reality? 48
Detached housing will account for 40% of new homes in 2015
The government is fully aware that many people want to live in a separate house and tries to help as much as possible. The housing policy concept up to 2016 provides for mechanisms to promote detached housing construction. The major objective of the strategy is to increase the share of country houses up to 40% (the figure made up about a third in the last fiveyear period). The longterm objective is to reach the European average of 50% and higher, so that everyone who wants to live in a country house should be able to do so. Thus, 24.5 million square meters of detached houses is to be built in Belarus by 2016.
An integrated action plan has been drafted to fulfill this goal. It provides for the development and approval of construction sites, elaboration of a variety of standard designs and layouts and expansion of the number of services. Last year Belarus adopted a detached housing construction program to run until 2016 and developed similar regional programs that take into account More and more people prefer country houses over high-rise buildings in a noisy city center. Indeed, detached dwellings account for half of residential housing in developed market economies. Belarus is no exception. As the living standards are improving and the country is switching to market forms of property ownership, the interest in detached houses is increasing. It is absolutely natural. After all, a detached home is the best way to meet your individual needs and preferences, like the number of rooms, the size and layout of a house. You can also set the pace of construction or expand the house later if needed. Besides, living in the country, away from the hustle and bustle of a city, is another significant advantage of a detached house over an appartment in a high-rise. demographic, economic, social and other characteristics of the regions.
However, practical steps should be taken to make the programs work. After all, the detached housing program requires progressive construction technologies. Specialists of the Architecture and Construction Ministry hold the same view.
“In order to boost detached housing construction, we need to make the process more technologyintensive. We need to turn construction into a mechanized continuous process. In other words, we need to produce structures and blocks at industrial enterprises and then assemble them at a construction site,” believes Deputy Head of the Housing Policy Department of the Architecture and Construction Ministry Vladimir Doropiyevich.
Advanced technologies will allow a wider use of turnkey construction projects. They will also enable us to build highquality, customertailored houses and offer a broad range of layouts, designs and architectural solutions. Using these
technologies we will be able to build houses in virtually greenfield land. In other words we will not need an extensive social, engineering and transport infrastructure to start a housing construction project. Most importantly, the use of prefabricated structures that require little mechanized installations at a construction site will allow dramatically cutting costs associated with labor and raw materials, and accelerating the pace of construction, thus reducing the prime cost of a finished house, Vladimir Doropiyevich said.
The Construction and Architecture Ministry explained that indus trialized detached housing construction involves the production of complete sets of products and other items for the construction of both detached and semidetached residential buildings. At the same time installation services can be made part of the package. Thus, a family can choose a project to its budget and manage construction costs.
According to the plans, detached housing built to the industrial method will account for 31.2% of new outofcity housing in 2014, and 39.5% in 2015. Largepanel housing development will increase to 300,000 square meters by 2016. Three domestic organizations will be involved: OAO Lavsanstroi (Mogilev), OAO Stroitrest No.8 (Brest) and OAO Stroitrest No.13 (Bobruisk). They are expected to build 40% of all new detached houses next year.
Plans have been made to create new production facilities for wooden housing development, Deputy Minister of Architecture and Construction Dmitry Semenkevich informed earlier. For example, Baranovichidrev is expected to produce about 500800 houses a year at the initial stage. Thus, people will be able to choose the best option that suits their taste.
Government Procurement Contract
In H1 this year, Belarus commissioned more than 2.7 million square meters of new housing, of which 815,400 square meters was detached housing. This accounted for 43% of the annual target and 30% of the total new developments. Minsk Oblast was the leader in outofcity development: 272,500 square meters was built in JanuaryJune, or 38.9% of the annual target. It is followed by Brest Oblast with 213,600 square meters of outofcity housing in H1 (53.4 % of the annual projections), Grodno Oblast (113,200 square meters, or 45.3 %), Gomel Oblast (89,100 square meters, or 44.6 %), Vitebsk Oblast (61,500 square meters, or 58.5 %) and Mogilev Oblast (56,000 square meters, or 28%). In JanuaryJune Minsk commissioned 9,500 square meters of detached housing, which represents 23.8% of the annual projections. All in all, the Belarusian capital is expected to build 40,000 square meters of detached housing in 2014.
815,400 square meters of detached houses was delivered
in H1 2014
Vladimir Doropiyevich said that in order to make detached housing construction more efficient, Belarus is planning to introduce a government procurement mechanism by the end of the year. So far this mechanism has been used in multistoried development projects only.
Using this mechanism to construct homes for people in need of better housing who are eligible for state support, the government will be able to control the volume of industrialized detached housing construction more efficiently, he said.
The Ministry has already prepared some 30 layouts. They include various types of houses with 3 to 6 bedrooms of the total area from 70 to 220 square meters. Development of new layouts continues.
The design documentation on residential houses built under public procurement may include an option for interior finishing if approved, by municipal authorities, Vladimir Doropiyevich said. In other cases, the finishing works will be carried out at the request of the future owners of the house.
“Today, it takes people three to five years to build a house on their own or with the assistance of a small development organization. Our goal is to reduce the construction process to one year. Besides, the mechanism of public procurement, as you know, does not require startup investments on the part of future property owners, i.e. the owner gets loan obligations together with the key to a new house,” Vladimir Doropiyevich said.
Under Decree No. 270 of 6 June 2014 “Concerning government sponsored housing construction”, the cost of 1 square meter of housing under government procurement contracts will equal the average monthly salary with the coefficient of 1.2 in 20142016. According to Architecture and Construction Minister Anatoly Cherny, the industry offers a wide range of detached housing projects. Doesn’t it make a perfect option?
The plans, however, will require more land plots and a network of engineering and transport infrastructure.
According to Vladimir Doropiyevich, land plots for detached housing are selected by local authorities on the basis of the existing urban planning or district planning documentation, excluding forests and agricultural areas.
As of 1 July 2014 Belarus allocated 62,849 land plots for detached housing development. Of that, nearly 43% was not farmland. A total of 59,117 citizens are on the waiting list for a plot of land. Of them 54,309 citizens are on the waiting lists for better housing. Thus, the number of land plots exceeds the number of the people willing to get them by 27.5%. The most difficult situation is in Minsk Oblast where the number of applicants exceeds the number of land plots available for detached housing development. In this case, the housing construction in farmland and forests can be permitted, only if approved by the head of state.
Land plots should be located in close vicinity of populated areas in order to minimize the costs of engineering and transport infrastructure. Decree No. 26 signed on 14 January 2014 envisages measures to improve the construction activity in the country. The document bans the allocation or sale of land with no basic utility services or minimal infrastructure. Earlier it was possible to buy via auction or simply get land in the middle of nowhere
with no roads, electricity and water. The buyer, however, was required to launch construction within a threeyear period.
Manykilometer utility lines and additional services could increase construction costs manifold, to hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars. The new decree provides for the sale of only shovelready land today, Vladimir Doropiyevich stressed. Local authorities are the ones to prepare land for home building projects.
Thus, every construction site should be provided with basic engineering and transport infrastructure before a construction project gets ahead. The infrastructure should include electricity and water supply networks, streets and roads.
Everything should be done before a land plot is allocated or before a house is commissioned. That means that water and electricity supply should be available already for the first house in the development area. If the project envisages, for instance, installation of sewerage systems and gas supply, it is for the capital construction management services to provide it, the representative of the Construction and Architecture Ministry explained.
Construction of main infrastructure lines will be financed from the national budget. After that, the infrastructure construction cost will be included in the cadastral value of the land plot.
9,500 square meters of detached housing (23.8% of the annual plan) was commissioned in Minsk in H1 2014
The development of the distribution infrastructure will be a responsibility of those who use it.
“The state has built a main line and a distribution control facility. If the available land is allocated on a piecemeal principle, then the entire distribution infrastructure will be built by a construction management department. If a land plot is given to a real estate developer in its entirety, this company can build the entire infrastructure on its own. It is clear that nobody will do it for free. The land plot owner will
have to pay the construction management department or the developer. In case the developers cover all costs, they will sell land plots or houses at a market price. This will entirely exclude cases when people are given pieces of barren land to build whatever they want. If there are such cases, we urge people to report them and we will stop it,” the representative of the ministry said.
Detached housing development is profitable and relevant for those who want to have their own rural houses. It also makes economic sense for the state. Therefore, the total volume of construction will be increased while the construction of apartment blocks, especially in big cities, will be reduced.