UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | In January of this year, the residents of Gabula Road in Jinja City narrowly avoided a tragedy when an extension of Speke Courts Hotel collapsed. Thankfully, no casualties were reported. However, the National Building Review Board (NBRB) faulted the developer, Mr Godfrey Nabongho, for not meeting the conditions set by the building committee.
The NBRB’s preliminary investigation revealed that Nabongho began construction without a building permit, despite having applied for one earlier.
“The developer did not meet the Building Committee’s conditions, which included having all construction stages approved by the city engineer, building control officer, health inspector, and physical planner, as indicated in the submitted building plans,” explained NBRB spokesperson Mr Herbert Zziwa.
Zziwa also pointed out that the specifications of the building materials used did not match those in the design drawings. For example, 4 iron bars of 12 millimeters were used instead of 8 of 16.
Having permits is crucial to guaranteeing that work has been completed to the proper standards and ensuring that safety is given the priority it deserves.
Every developer in Uganda must obtain building permits, pay relevant fees, and ensure they follow the set standards and regulations.
In this article, we will explain what building fees and permits are, how they are regulated, and their fee structure.
Regulation of Building Fees and Permits
According to the Building Control Act of 2013, it is illegal to carry out any construction or renovation work without a valid building permit issued by a building committee. The Building Control Act outlines the fines and consequences of such a violation.
The act states that anyone who contravenes the regulations will face a fine not exceeding USh1,000,000 or imprisonment for up to two years or both.
If a building lacks the appropriate permit, all construction or renovation work must immediately stop. If the construction contains items that violate regulations, the local authorities may demolish the project.
Anyone observing construction in progress, including neighbours, may report a violation to the authorities and stop the work.
The Revised Fee Structure
In 2020, the Minister of Works and Transport, Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala, revised the fee structure under the Building Control (Fees) Regulations, 2020. Building fees are determined in three ways:
- Square Meters and Location of the Building: This fee varies depending on the city, municipality, town council, or district where the construction is taking place.
- Classification of the Building: Buildings are classified into three categories namely; Class A, Class B, and Class C.
Class A buildings are complex structures, including public buildings, multi-storeyed buildings more than 12 meters high, building complexes (mixtures of different buildings) such as schools, hospitals, shopping malls, and buildings of high social impact, or those located in sensitive ecosystems.
Class B buildings are residential or commercial buildings with a floor area of more than 30 square meters and up to 12 meters high, with boundary walls built of bricks, concrete, or other solid material of a permanent nature.
Class C buildings are minor and temporary structures with a floor area of less than 30 square meters, such as kiosks, stalls, and shacks of simple structural form.
- Flat Rates: Some buildings, such as Class C buildings, have flat rates.
Building Permit Fees
To secure a building permit for a Class A building in a city, a developer must pay USh2,200 per square meter of floor area, USh1,700 in municipalities, USh1,300 for town councils, and USh1,100 at the district level.
A Class B building permit costs USh1,700 per square meter of floor area in cities, USh1,300 in municipalities, USh1,000 in town councils, and USh950 at the district level.
Class C buildings have a flat rate of USh500,000 in cities, USh300,000 in municipalities, USh200,000 in town councils, and USh30,000 at the district level.
Once a building permit is secured, the developer has one year to start construction and five years to complete it.
However, if unforeseen circumstances arise and the developer is unable to complete the building within the specified time, they can apply to the building committee for an extension.
For minor building operations, construction is expected to begin within six months, but an extension of another six months can be granted.
Inspection fees are paid at the beginning, during, and after the construction of a building. Pre-construction fees are paid together with building permit fees and are for analysing building plans and inspecting the site for due diligence to ensure that the documents submitted are authentic.
During construction, the building committee must inspect the construction to ensure that the developer is complying with the approved plans and regulations.
Permit and Fee Violations
The consequences of failing to obtain the necessary permits and pay the required fees can be severe.
Not only can the authorities halt construction or demolish non-compliant structures, but developers may also face hefty fines and imprisonment.
It is important to note that building fees and permits are essential to ensure public safety, protect property values, and maintain a functional and attractive built environment.
When a developer submits a building permit application, it is reviewed and evaluated by the building committee to determine if it meets the necessary requirements.
If the application is incomplete or does not meet the standards, it may be rejected.
Additionally, the building committee may issue a stop-work order and require corrections to be made before construction can resume. This process helps ensure that building codes and safety regulations are followed and that the building is safe for occupancy.
In some cases, developers may try to avoid paying the full permit fees or may attempt to construct without obtaining the required permits. This can result in serious legal consequences, including fines, imprisonment, and the demolition of the building.
It is crucial for developers to follow the proper procedures and obtain all necessary permits and inspections to ensure a successful and safe project.
How Payments are Made
According to Regulation 38 of the Building Control Rules, 2020, all application and permit fees are paid through electronic transfer or a direct bank deposit of the relevant local government.
The application fees are paid on or before the day an application is submitted to the Building Committee while the permit fees are paid before the permit is issued.
All these payments are non-refundable.
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