9 months before construction starts
Before the construction of a warehouse project can begin, a large number of administrative approvals and opinions have to be obtained – about 20 applications in total. “The entire process, at best, takes an average of nine months,” says Maria Mędryk, a Senior Design & Construction Architect at 7R.
Each construction project begins with the preparation of the project documentation. An absorption analysis is required and it’s also necessary to verify the legal and technical status of the plot. On the basis of all this, a ‘construction design’ is prepared, before the building permit can be applied for. Many documents have to be drawn up and submitted. One of the most important of these is the environmental permit application.
“This is the longest and most difficult procedure, and at the same time a crucial one. The processing of the environmental permit usually takes about six months, but can sometimes take even longer. In total, we submit around 20 applications for the various decisions and arrangements before we can even get round to making the building permit application,” explains Maria Mędryk, who adds: “We are more amenable to developing land that is already covered by local plans. If they are not already in place, then it’s necessary to obtain a site development conditions decision (WZ), and this is an additional three months of waiting. Only when you have the site development conditions in your hand, can you then apply for the building permit.”
A cavalcade of applications
Before submitting the building permit application, among other documents it’s necessary to draw up a map for the design purposes, the geotechnical study, re-designating the site from agricultural use, the access to the public road network and connecting up the utility infrastructure. And these also require a number of other decisions. And we shouldn’t forget to mention the construction project itself, which is attached to the application. For 7R, the construction project is often about 300 pages long, of which about 100 pages are multi-format drawings.
“Drawing up the project is the shortest and most pleasant stage of the entire project for the architects,” argues Maria Mędryk, who adds that it is possible to submit applications electronically. “This solution significantly accelerates the procedures, but that’s not all. By submitting an application in electronic form, we can avoid printing out hundreds of pages, and this directly translates into benefits for the natural environment,” emphasises 7R’s expert.
Interestingly, there are no significant differences in the time it takes for the local authorities in large cities and small towns to process applications.
“It doesn’t matter if we are building in a big city or in a country field – the procedures are the same everywhere. However, it’s sometimes the case that some smaller towns are more efficient. For them, new investment means new jobs and greater tax revenues,” explains Maria Mędryk. “We can also encounter differing interpretations from different councils of the same issues, and so before submitting the application to the relevant department, it’s worthwhile getting accustomed to how such cases are generally perceived in that given locality,” she adds.
Tailored for the tenants
Obtaining a valid building permit and getting the construction work underway does not mean that the administrative challenges involved in the development of a warehouse project are over. Quite often it’s necessary to obtain a replacement permit.
“The building permit application usually covers only the construction of a hall without any specific requirements from tenants. When we secure a tenant, we then have to revise the documentation for their specific needs. This is what replacement licences are generally for. The replacement project does not require re-obtaining previous opinions – and preparing it is much faster than the original application,” argues Maria Mędryk.
It is also something of a challenge to ensure that the utility connections are in place at the required stage of the project.
“It can happen that there are no gas and electricity networks in the neighbourhood, and so the utility supplier might announce that it will provide them, for example, in two years. In such cases, as a developer, we have to build several kilometres of network or install our own replacements, such as LNG gas tanks,” says 7R’s expert.
The permitting marathon does not come to an end with the construction of the warehouse by the contractor. In order for tenants to start operating in the buildings, the developer has to secure the occupancy permit.
“The building is checked out by health & safety officials, the fire brigade and construction supervision bodies. Only after the building has been approved by those parties is it possible to start using it,” emphasises Maria Mędryk.