Digital file and diary for renovating a property in Hungary

Robert Kemkers,  Tuesday, 2 January 2018

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Author: Robert Kemkers,
Translated by Jos Deuling,

Last year some changes were made to building and demolition permits in Hungary. In principle, instead of a permit requirement, there is now a reporting obligation. And from paper files, one has switched to digital (electronic) records and diaries. In theory, much should be much simpler and more flexible, but in practice, this is not always the case. We have also found that there is a great deal of ignorance and confusion among the Dutch and Belgians in Hungary. That is why in this episode we will give you a brief look at the most important changes and some tips to avoid penalties.

Building regulations: also in Hungary

To put it first: just as in the Netherlands and Belgium, there are rules in Hungary for the construction, conversion, and demolition of buildings. Many laws, contrary to what many people seem to think, are perhaps even stricter and more detailed than in Western Europe. Everything is tested against the zoning plan, building decision and other regulations.
Admittedly, there are usually less stringent controls in Hungary. However, this is mainly because the houses here are on average further apart, which means that a neighbor is less likely to be troubled and consequently people less frequently object or complain. Certainly in the Hungarian countryside, the unwritten rule that neighbours should be left alone if they build something, as long as it does not become too big or you don't have a lot of trouble with it. Almost every Hungarian has something somewhere in his garden that is not entirely built according to the permits, so he will not inform the local government. But, of course, if the relations with the neighbors are disturbed, there is a risk. Until recently, the application for a building or demolition permit in Hungary was quite similar to the Benelux procedure. An architect made a drawing, which had to comply with the zoning plan and they applied for a building permit; initially at the municipality or a larger place in the neighborhood, in recent years everything has been handled at the district level (' járás'). After a relatively short time of publication, people were given the permit reasonably quickly and could start building. Objections were and are almost never raised

New rules: reporting instead of applying for a permit

Because there are certainly no complaints from neighbors in rural areas and because people do not bother each other anyway, it has been decided to simplify the procedure for building permits. Formal prior authorization is no longer required to start which has been interpreted by quite a few fellow countrymen (and Hungarians) as if it were possible to build without a permit so that everything can be done by themselves and no architect or contractor is needed anymore. However, that's not true! There are still many rules, but you can start at your own risk now if you report everything and keep it in a digital diary. This is strictly monitored. The government aimed to solve the real problems encountered in the construction industry. The first issue was that when planning, construction, and construction errors occurred during or after construction, liability for them was merely rejected by the parties involved, and it was challenging to obtain compensation. The second problem was seen as the widespread use of undeclared work, which not only caused a liability problem, but also led to a loss of social security contributions and taxes (e. g. VAT). In the new regulations, it is particularly important to combat undeclared work, and it is always clear who is responsible for what.

Digital building file

A new digital environment has been designed. It is known as ÉTDR, generally referred to as' E-Építés' (the first' e' stands for' electronic,' the term commonly used in Hungary for' digital,' i. e. things handled using the Internet;' építés' means' construction'). In this digital environment, a digital file is created and all parties involved can exchange all the necessary information digitally: the architect can exchange the building drawings, technical sketches, static calculations, permits, additional regulations and so on. An important element is the digital' construction diary,' the so-called' E-Napló.' This diary must contain a description of the work planned each day and a description of the work carried out. Which works will be carried out on which building site by which construction workers or installers? Even if no work is done, this should be reported. In this way, it is easy to check who is doing what work and thus counteract undeclared work in a targeted way. The supervisor is responsible for everything. He must have a contract with the (main) contractor and owner and must hold the required diplomas and registration. Even though as a foreigner you are handy and in possession of professional qualifications, only Hungarian registered qualified construction engineers may be supervisors. They are therefore also ultimately responsible. Similarly, a registered architect should be called in for the drawing and checking of permits. It is strictly regulated which architect may supervise which project; the larger the structure, or if it concerns a monument, the stricter the certification requirements.

Exemption

The above applies to new construction, as well as to conversions and extensions and demolition work. Various exemptions apply, as in the past. For example, if, for example, only on the inside of things are modified, and the function of the building and the net living area are not or hardly changed, and the load-bearing structures are not affected, then there is usually no permit and therefore no notification via "E-Építés" required. The same applies to the demolition of smaller parts of a dwelling or outbuildings. Anyone who likes to do everything themselves or would prefer not to apply for a permit for tax reasons can only carry out small renovations. It is then perhaps an option to spread the renovation over a more extended period (years): if you just make a tiny adjustment each time, it is possible that you do not have to report something and therefore does not need to keep a digital diary. However, it is also sensible (or required) to obtain a signed declaration from the immediate neighbors that they agree with the work.

For readers who intend to carry out a major renovation, extension or new building, I recommend that you find a good architect and recognized contractor who have experience with the digital file and also the digital diary. All this requires specialist knowledge, and because everything must be done in Hungarian, it is unwise to leave it to an unqualified contractor. It is always the client who bears final responsibility.

Robert Kemkers
Robert Kemkers - GeGe Real Estate






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