The Building Authorization System in Romania
Romania has one of the most complicated and time-consuming building permit procedures within the EU. It was ranked as the 50th in the world. The system is also rigged by some corruption phenomena. You should not be concerned about corruption, but they might interfere with your project.
To obtain a Building Permit (Autorizație de Construire), there are two legal paths, determined not by choice, but by local zoning code (Regulament Local de Urbanism).
The two paths are direct and indirect authorization. They are similar to some extent, except that the indirect includes an Urbanism Project called either PUD (Plan Urbanism de Detaliu) or PUZ (Plan Urbanistic Zonal).
The steps are the following, for the DIRECT AUTHORIZATION:
- Urban Certificate (Certificat de Urbanism) – issued by the local city hall (Primărie), sometimes with verification by the County Hall (Consiliul Județean)
It states what the zoning code is (Regulament Local de Urbanism) considering that within an area, the rules might differ.
It also states the required pre-approvals (aviz, avize or acord, acorduri) the project should acquire, these being of two types:
- Pre-approvals (avize) related to the land:
- Environmental Agency preliminary evaluation of impact (followed or not by further steps). Usually, the notification to the Agency results in a Notification Classification (Clasificarea Notificării). It means there are no further steps. For some investment types, as industrial, or even for residential that requires infrastructure, this can develop into new steps. In this case, there will also be needed an Environmental Accord (Acord de Mediu). To get an Environmental Accord, other pre-approvals might be needed, like a pre-approval from the Water and Forest Agency (if the project includes water pits, deforestation, and such).
- Pre-approvals from utility companies such as Electrical Company, Water Company, Gas Company, Phone Company, etc. These basically state that they are not bothered by your project, as your project does not affect their infrastructure (as gas pipes, water pipes, high voltage electrical lines, and their protection zones. They do not include the rights to get service-pipe to their infrastructure, nor guarantee they can provide you the proper amount of gas, electricity, etc. For these works there are different procedures, that let you know from what point you can make extensions to the gas pipes, if (most likely sure) you have to build your own electrical transformer, if and where you can connect your sewerage pipes to the zone sewerage system if one exists.
- Pre-approvals (avize) related to the land:
- Pre-approvals from other different agencies, such as Waters and Forrest Agency for proximity with water bodies or forests and so on.
- Pre-approvals from infrastructure companies and/or agencies as National Roads Agency, Railroad Company, Army (in case of the proximity of military bases or installations), SRI (one of our seven intelligence agencies for whatever buried purposes they might have). The National Roads Agency issues a mixed approval as they both check if your project doesn’t interfere with roads’ safety building exclusion zone and the conformity of your roads junction with the national roads. This might include a special project to design the junction if it will require traffic lights, traffic roundabouts, viaducts, or whatever it will be needed.
- I might forget some possible pre-approvals. Nevertheless, not all these are required for all projects
- Pre-approvals related to the designed buildings and/or Masterplan:
- Local Health Agency (by a very new law modification, this might not be needed anymore, but…)
- State Construction Inspectorate (ISC Inspectoratul de Stat în Construcții) approval (Acord ISC) (usually only for interventions on or near existing buildings, but sometimes for larger projects too)
- Fire Department Pre-approval (It usually is not required for small residential units, but considering you are developing basically a new little town, it might be possible). You might have to provide a local fire extinguishing water infrastructure. A further discussion should be made on fire safety regulations in Romania.
- Historical Comity for Historical Sites, alterations of Historical Monuments, and/or for buildings within the protection range of Historical Monuments.
- Other pre-approvals might be required that are a mix of land and project approvals, such as Air Traffic Agency if you are in the proximity of an airport and they might have to compare the building’s height to the flight aisle conditions.
- County Circulation Comity approvals – checking the required parking plots, junctions with national and/or local roads, and so on.
- Traffic Police approval might be required. Unfortunately, at least in Bucharest, they do not issue such approval (aviz)
- Building Permit – AC (Autorizație de construire). It is issued by the local city hall.
I know, I know, what could be more complicated than the Direct Authorization?
The steps are the same, but:
- Pre-approvals for PUZ or PUD, including most of the land-related pre-approvals. Attention! The pre-approvals for the PUZ or PUD sometimes are not allowed to be used during the further steps, some new ones might be issued for the construction phase, aka the direct authorization.
- The first step on Environmental Agency Approval
- Opportunity study and Public consultation.
- CTUAT pre-approval for PUD/PUZ (Aviz CTUAT – Comisia Tehnică de Urbanism și Amenajarea Teritoriului) Urban and Territory Planning Comity.
- Further Public Consultation
- City or County Hall Chief-Architect approval (usually a formality after CTUAT Approval has been issued)
- Local and/or County Council Approval. The Local Council is the local legislative body that approved also the Local Zoning Code (Regulamentul Local de Urbanism). As the PUZ and PUD are basically derogations and/or amendments to the Local Zoning Cod, this is the only body allowed to modify it.
- Pre-approvals as stated on point 2. Of the Direct Authorization
- AC – Building Permit
After the Building Permit is issued, the investor should notify the City Hall on the date of construction start.
The Builder or the Investor notifies the ISC (Construction State Inspectorate) on the construction start date and submits the Determining Phases Program.
Modifications During Construction
The Building Permit has a real A4 Authorization and a set of plans including the masterplan, architectural plans, facades, sections, parts of the Structural Design as Foundations Plans and Details, Schematic Drawings of MEP and Electrical designs, Technical Reports (Memorii Tehnice) by each specialty stamped as „Vizat spre Neschimbare” by the Chief-Architect of the City Hall.
Any modifications of the Building Permit Design that might affect the building during the construction phase, changing the aspect, the solution, etc should follow a specific procedure.
„DS – Dispoziție de Șantier” (Site Order) is a document issued by the architect, the structural engineer, the MEP or electrical engineers that indicates what the changes are related to the approved plans and what is the reason for the changes, or any changes to the construction documents.
The DS can consist of a written part (let’s say the Structural Engineer decides to use a C20/25 concrete instead of C16/20) for no matter what reason.
The DS can include some details. If the Detail provided does not change the overall design, the DS is used only on-site and is opposable only to the Builder. If the Detail provided includes modifications to the approved designed within the Building Permit, it should also be submitted to the City Hall.
The DS can include revisions of initial plans, either containing small or large modifications. Such DS can change some, or even all the plans submitted to the Building Permit.
The DS can include more than one person to issue it. Let’s say the architect change the position of a door inside the house, then the DS is also signed by the Structural Engineer if the modification does not alter the structural integrity of the building.
If the DS issued by the architect is relevant to the structural integrity the Structural Engineer will also issue his/her own DS including the needed changes (reinforcements geometry size and positions and so on).
The changes that affect the structure might require also an Expert Technical Report issued by a Structural Technical Expert.
After a DS was issued it has to be submitted to the City Hall. The Chief-Architect sets if the modification is allowed within the Building Permit, or if the changes have to be the subject of a new Building Permit.
If no new Building Permit is required, the Chief-Architect signs and stamps the plans with „Vizat spre neschimbare”, No Further Changes Allowed.
There is no limit on how many DSs the design team can issue, but all of them should be subject to the City Hall procedures described.
All DSs have to also be signed by the Builder, the Site Director (as the Investor’s technical representative), and also by the Owner.
A DS if contains modifications that are not included in the Construction Budget should include the financial source.
Usually, the Construction Budgets include „Unexpected Expenses”, within the range of 3-5% of the overall costs.
As the Technical Project (Design) is not fully part of the Building Permit Project, some DS can also be issued as further Technical Details or Specifications within the Technical Project. In this case, there is no need for a formal DS, but this is a matter of proper collaboration between the Owner, the Builder, and the Design Team led by the Architect.
Please, also read „Construction Quality System in Romania”
 One example is the Environmental Agency. If an Environmental Accord is required, the PUZ (masterplan) should be passed through one of their comities. These bodies are populated by some Environmental NGOs that might object to basically all projects. Some investors sponsored some of these NGOs in other not to be rejected by them.
Other corruption aspects might include bribery to some clerks, and even Chief-Architects or mayors. The bribery is not to pass some illegal projects, but to pass the project within the legal terms, or, if any modification to the projects might be required, to be notified exactly what and how you should provide further plans and specifications, all at once, not one by one……
Also, in the case of PUZ/PUD approvals within the Local, City, or County Hall, some counselors might want to reject the project just because the other party sustains it. Some political parties (as the ones that publicly fight corruption) usually think all the PUZs are dirty and a sign of corruption and they just love to reject them.
 The Environmental Agency procedures are the Notification Classification (no further procedures required) or Environmental Accord (Acord de Mediu) that includes some other steps. After the building is completed, for business-related buildings, an Environmental Authorization has to be issued.
 Determined Phases Program is part of the Building Authorization Project. It includes the phases where the architect, the structural engineer, and also the MEP engineers ask for quality control. The ISC points out the phases where they are also going to participate.
The phases include more types, with different participation. The most commons are the so-called Inner Phases, where Quality Check is done between the Builder and the Owner. The last one is always represented by a Site Director (Diriginte de Șantier). Other phases include participation from the Builder, Site Director, the architect, and/or some of the engineers each for their specialty.
As an example, one of the first phases is the marking phase, when the architect confirms the proper position of the building on the plot. Another phase is geotechnical, when, after the foundations’ diggings, the geotechnical engineer confirms the conformity of the soil with the survey he/she previously issued.
The most important phases are for the „works that become hidden”, as the correct positioning, conformation, quality of the rebars, before the concrete is poured. It is a phase where the structural engineer has to participate.
This is a part of the Construction Quality Control System, that I will also detail.
 In translation, Not To Be Changed Visa.
 The Technical Expert (Expert Tehnic) is a qualification regarding the high Structural Expertise of a Structural Engineer. A Technical Report Issued by an Expert sets the technical solutions to modify a building, structure, or parts of a structure. The design that the Structural Engineer should comply with the Expert’s Report and has to be also signed and stamped by the Expert.