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The amendment to the law, which will allow the construction of houses up to 70 m2 in size without the need for a permit, may contribute to changes in the wooden construction industry. The legal facilitation will be associated with an increased interest in rapid construction, which is based on prefabrication or modules. It is expected that in the future, the number of timber houses handed over will increase up to three times.
Changes to the building law will mean that from 2 January 2022, the size of houses that can be built without planning permission will increase from 35 m2 to 70 m2. Those who decide to build such a house will therefore be able to avoid the complicated process of obtaining a permit by using the construction notification option. This will also make it possible not to involve a construction manager. Such legal facilitation may contribute to increased interest in wooden houses, which have not been very popular in Poland so far. Currently, approximately 950 wooden houses are built per year, but representatives of the industry expect that this number will increase to approximately 2,500 buildings per year soon.
As Tomasz Szlązak, President of Polskie Domy Drewniane (PDD) adds, for these optimistic forecasts to be fulfilled, the safety of this type of facility must be ensured, e.g. by establishing a set of typical designs and introducing guarantees for this type of construction. Thanks to such safeguards, it would be possible to stabilise the market and eliminate individual threats. According to Tomasz Szlazak, for PDD it is extremely important to certify and give guarantees for wooden houses. The company has already started working on a uniform standard and platform, which will make it easier for customers to order safe houses with low carbon and energy footprint. It is also important to provide a guarantee and make it possible to take out insurance for a wooden house at a relatively low price.
Are Poles willing to build houses up to 70 m2?
Nowadays, in Poland, multi-generational buildings with an area exceeding 160 m2 are often built. Single-family houses are also built in larger sizes, and together with a garage, the area of such investments amounts to around 120 m2 gross, i.e. around 90 m2 net usable area. However, the preferred size is decreasing, because the family profile is changing and houses are becoming more ergonomic. As a result, it is not necessary to have a large surface area for the house to be functional.
Although wooden houses are very popular in Western European countries, such as Germany, Austria, or France, in Poland they are still being built in quite small numbers, because they constitute only 2% of all houses built. Annually it is about 900-950 new year-round wooden houses, which are built using timber frame technology. However, the amendment of the Polish construction law and changes in the industry give hope for the development of the wooden house market in Poland.
The industry has recently increased the efficiency of the technology used, reduced waste of raw and other materials, and shortened the time of project implementation. Currently, it is possible to erect a wooden house in its raw state within a few days, and the time of delivery depends on the size and technology used. The use of prefabrication significantly shortens the construction process, as the house is made of ready-made wall and ceiling elements, which are assembled on site. Some people also opt for houses built using modular technology, which is a higher level of prefabrication. In this case, finished buildings or parts of buildings are delivered to the construction site, and the construction time is reduced to a minimum.
An environmentally friendly and competitively priced solution?
Modular technology does not only save time but also waste, which is connected with a reduced carbon footprint. As Tomasz Szlązak adds, wood is the only renewable raw material in construction, and thanks to the use of this material, carbon dioxide can be stored.
According to the PDD president, several factors will influence the increased interest in wooden houses in the future. One of them is the new EU regulations, which will address the cost of construction and will define the carbon and climate footprint. In turn, customers will be more willing to opt for this type of solution due to rising housing prices in traditional construction. According to data from the National Bank of Poland, in the third quarter, the price growth of new flats amounted to over 2%, and of flats from the secondary market – 5.2%. Thus, the average prices per 1 m2 have jumped up, and in the third quarter in 10 cities they increased from PLN 6,332 to PLN 7,260.
According to Tomasz Szlazak, such rapid price rises will make retail clients lose interest in buying flats. A trend is also visible which shows that clients are more and more willing to opt for single-family or terraced houses, abandoning multi-family housing. In addition, this change encourages developers to modify their investment strategies, and now more and more projects involve single-family housing or developments on the city outskirts.
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