Construction Quality Control System in Romania

Construction Quality Control System in Romania

As one red „The Building Permit in Romania” might think that all related construction industry is bureaucratic and nonsense, but the Construction Quality Control System is a coherent and functional system.

If all the parts involved in the construction do their jobs accordingly to the System, there is little room for error.

The Exigencies

The national Law 10/1995 on the Construction Quality Control includes a set of so-call exigencies regarding the design, the construction, the use, and the post-use of a building. Please also read: „Architectural Design Requirements in Romania

They are:

  1. Structural stability and performance (one of the better enforced, as the seismic hazard in Romania is very high.
  2. Safety in use
  3. Fire Safety
  4. Hygiene, Population Health, and Environmental Protection
  5. Sound Insulation and Protection
  6. Thermal and water insulation, Energy Efficiency

As the System include both design and construction, there are differences between the two phases. As the Law states, all parties involved in the constructions have common and shared responsibilities: The Owner, the Constructors, and the Design Team (Architects and Engineers).

As a matter of fact, in Romania, the Builder is not allowed to make any modifications to the plans or specifications provided by the architect and the engineers. Any such modifications are ordered only by the architect or/and the design engineers, as „Dispoziții de șantier” – Site Order, DS.

The DSs are subject to the same quality control as the design itself.

Design Quality Control

First of all, nobody expects that the Owner of the Building should be construction design savvy to be directly responsible for the design.

As the architects and engineers design the building accordingly to the design order, the zoning code, the laws, and Technical Design Normatives[1], the Owner should verify if the design complies with all of these.

So the system imposes the Owner to hire Design Verifiers to check for errors and compliances of the design provided by the architect and the design engineers.

The Design Verifiers are certified specialists with different Design Exigencies.

Usually, the structural exigencies are verified by a Verifier with competence in the A1, or A2 class of structures (A1 for concrete, A2 for metal and wood structures).

The architectural plans are usually the subject of quality control by architects or engineers certified for B, D, E, and F specialist. The Fire Safety is usually checked by a Cc/Ci Certified Verifier (Cc – Constructions, Ci – MEP, and Electrical).

The MEP and Electrical design are subject to verification by Is, It, and Ie Certified Verifiers, for sanitation (water-sewerage), thermal and ventilation, and Electrical installations.

As the law requires the Owner to hire the Verifiers, the common practice is for each specialist to hire the Verifiers for the specific exigency it is required.

Nevertheless, it is strictly forbidden for any architects or engineers who are also certified as Verifiers with no matter what exigency to both design and verify a certain project.

The common day use of the system:

The attention that the verifications are done differs from an exigency to the others.

The A Exigency, regarding structural stability, was strongly enforced by the State Inspectorate during the last 30 years. Despite the presence of some formal verifications, many verifiers scrupulously check both the design and the structural notes.

Most important is that at least for the structural exigencies, the system included coherent checks not only during the design but also during the execution.

The memory of the 4th of March 1977 earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.2, that killed over 1500 Romanians, Bulgarians and Moldavians is strongly kept by the Civil Engineering schools. Not only the effects of the earthquakes but also the prosecution of engineers and architects responsible for either bad design or poor construction also makes virtually everybody to carefully treat the structural issues.

The other tough enforced discipline is that regarding Fire Safety. As the Fire Department approves (aviz de Securitate la incendiu) the design of the buildings that satisfy certain conditions, this is also followed by a serious check of the building when the works are done. More, as almost all commercial and industrial buildings are required to get a fire authorization to be allowed to function (autorizație de Securitate la incendiu), the system of checks is closed.

In 2015, a fire started during a rock concert inside the infamous Club Colectiv. It resulted in 64 deaths and more than 100 severely injured young persons.

Despite the fact that the severity of this fire was favored by the lack of any building permit, fire safety authorization, and the lack of an architectural design, the Fire Department is extremely cautious in providing approvals and preapprovals for both design or constructions.

All other design and construction exigencies (B, D, E, F, even Is, It, Ie) are not strongly enforced. Many times the verification is rather formal. It is only a matter if the plans have or not the proper stamps and signatures.

Construction Quality Control

As already mentioned, the Builder is not allowed to modify the design, the solutions, and the specifications of the design.

In Romania, all the details, drawings, and specifications are provided only by the architect and the other members of the design team.

The Site Director is the technical representative of the Owner. His/her role is to supervise the proper conformity of the construction works with the design documents. Even if the Site Director (as an architect or engineer himself) notices a design fault, the lack of necessary details, or design’s mismatches, he/she also is not allowed to provide solutions, details, or modifications of the design documents.

The Site Director should notify the Design Team Leader on the problems the Builder encountered and ask for necessary Site Orders to correct, modify, or detail the Design Documents.

The Quality Control System is based on the Determining Phases Program, provided by each design specialist.

The program includes protocols signed by the Site Director and the Builder for important phases. Other phases include protocols signed by the Architect/Designing Engineer, the Site Director, and the Builder.

As the Program is submitted to the Construction State Inspectorate, a State Inspector might participate, as his own will to certain, all, or none of the phases the Program contains.

Nevertheless, any State Inspector can perform controls at any moment, any phase, as following a public complaint or just as ad-hoc inspections.

The site is also subject to controls from the Local Police, as the Local Police manage a Construction Discipline Department with the City Hall, Environmental Agency, Labor Agency, and so on.

The Design Team is also allowed, at any time either programmed or not to visit the construction site to verify or supervise different works.

The refuse of access for the Architect, or the Structural Engineer on site, could be reported to the Construction State Inspectorate.

The most important protocols signed on-site are regarding works „that become hidden”. The protocol is not only a certification of the quality of the works but also permission to continue the technological works.

For the reinforcement bars control, for example, the protocol states if the concrete can be poured or not. If minor works are still required, the protocol can conclude with further works to be finished but with the right to poor concrete.

There is not uncommon that the structural engineer to forbidden the Builder to pour concrete until further verification is done, and the concrete mixer truck to be sent back to the producer.

The architect and/or the structural engineer are allowed to order partial demolitions and the stop of works. The Site Director can also order the stop of works, but not demolitions. If demolitions are required for compromised parts of the buildings, the Site Director should require the Architect and the Structural Engineer to order the partial demolitions.

Although rarely an architect and the structural engineers order partial demolitions, it is done. The rebuild is done on the Builder expense.

Except for the Quality Protocols, the Builder should provide Technical Agreements for all the building materials used, as the design specifications required. For specific building materials, except for the Technical Agreements, the documents should also contain Laboratory Tests Reports on concrete testing cubes (10x10x01 cm), Laboratory Tests Reports on each steel charge.

All the documents mentioned:

  • The Building Permit, including the accessory plans,
  • The Design Documents[2], including drawings and specifications,
  • All the Site Orders (DSs), signed and stamped by the architect, engineers, verifiers, and the City Hall Chief-Architect,
  • All the Quality Control Protocols,
  • All the Building Materials Technical Agreements,
  • All the Laboratory Tests Reports and Building Materials Conformity Certificates,
  • The Concrete Book (Condica de betoane, that specify all the works done to poor concrete, including the date, weather conditions, transportation documents, etc)
  • As Build Documents

All of the above will be joined into what is called The Construction Book (Cartea Construcției).

The Construction Book is required for the Final Reception.

The Final Reception is signed by the Builder, Site Director and Owner, The City Hall representative, the State Inspector with the ISC, and, when necessary, by the Fire Department Inspector, Environmental Agency Inspector, and so on. The Architect and the Engineers are not part of the Final Reception Board, but guests. Nevertheless, they provide for each specialty Reports that state if the Building is constructed accordingly the Design Documents, and the Building Permit.

The Buildings that have not been successfully finished, with a proper Final Reception procedure, are not allowed to be tabulated (registered in the National Registry of Real Estate Properties).

Historical Buildings

The Historical Buildings (Monuments), as inscribed in the National Historical List, are subject to more rigorous procedures, both during Building Permit procedures, Design, and Construction.

As mentioned above, all the works must be done under the supervision of specialists registered with the Ministery of Culture.

Architects, Engineers, Project Verifiers, Technical Experts, Site Directors, and Builders should be or work under the supervision of Monuments Specialists, Monuments Verifiers, and Monuments Experts.

A Technical Expertise Report done by a Technical Expert should also be signed and stamped by a Monument Expert. Wherever a Project Verifier signs and stamps, a Monument Verifier should also sign and stamp.

Conclusions on the Construction Quality Control System

Despite being bureaucratic and sometimes formal, the System managed to ensure quite a high degree of discipline.

One must understand that before 1990, almost all constructions in Romania were done by the state, for the state. We had large „design institutes”, having hundreds of architects and engineers specialized in a different type of constructions. They designed civil buildings mostly, For special projects, as the industrial, each sector had its own „institute”: for roads, bridges, and railroads, for heavy or light industry, for the food industry, and so on.

Once the Communist regime was abolished, the people started to build their own houses, warehouses, office buildings, industrial buildings, and so on. Suddenly, instead of one Big Client, we had tens of thousands, each year, enjoying not only personal freedom but also the freedom to build whatever they want. Add to this situation the poor economy! The Construction Industry was a mess, and the need for proper control was extremely important.

In a country that faces a huge seismic hazard, generalized indiscipline was a ticking bomb. The government had to quickly enforce a construction discipline, at least where the danger was severe, the structural works.

During the last three decades, the discipline was enforced better and better. Nowadays, most of the buildings are properly authorized and quality controlled. There is still a problem with persons who skip the whole process and still build without a Building Permit, sometimes without a proper design, and no quality control at all, but they are less and less each year.

[1] Normative de proiectare, in Romanian. As Romania is an EU member, most parts of the technical design normative are basically Eurocodes, but not all of them. Some of the normative are adaptations of Eurocodes but might include important differences.

As an example, the Structural Design Normative, as it is based on Eurocode, includes some differences within the resistance of reinforcing bars.

The Fire Safety Normative (P-118) is not based on Fire Safety Eurocode, even almost every regulation that the Eurocode has is present in the Romanian code either. The main difference is that if the design includes sprinklers (example), this does not improve the classification and specification for fire resistance, and fire tightness of surrounding elements. Basically, the authors of the normative supposed no system and pieces of equipment will work in case of fire. The presupposition was actually wisely made, because, at least during the ’90s, the building maintenance was generally poor.

[2] The Design Documents include 3 phases: The Building Permit Design Documents (Proiect pentru obținerea Autorizație de Construire – PAC, or Documentație Tehnică pentru obținerea Autorizației de Construire – DTAC), The Construction Design Documents (Proiect Tehnic – PT), and Specifications (Detalii de Execuție – DE). In practice, the PT and DE are mixed in a igle phase, PT-DE). It is also common to provide a single phase (for smaler projects, as houses), DTAC-PT(-DE).

The phases are described by the National Law 10/1995 and National Law 50/1991 (regulating the construction authorization – Building Permit).