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Frequently Asked Questions

To help our visitors, we have compiled a list of the most commonly-raised questions about the BCA’s work, responsibilities and issues related to interested parties.

Should there be anything else that you wish to ask us other than what is already covered in the FAQs, please visit our Customer Care section, and let us know via our online form, or contact us via telephone.  Thank you!

General
Information

Within the context of the building and construction industry, the BCA is responsible for:
– The initiation of the design, implementation and dissemination of policies
– The consolidation and review of laws and regulations.
– The compilation of minimum standards and best practices for the building industry transposed into a national building code.

This should result in the better management of the building and the construction sector in the Maltese Islands.

Current Building and Construction Regulations deal with the construction details of buildings and set down the minimum standards to safeguard third parties around buildings and construction operations. They also regulate construction related implementation methods, in-building physical infrastructure and energy efficiency of buildings.

Planning Permission: Gives the right for a person to build, modify or retain any structure on land and sea, or designates a specific use according to National Plans and Policies, which seeks to guide the way our towns, cities and countryside develop. This includes the use of land and buildings, the appearance of buildings, landscaping considerations, highway access and the impact that the development will have on the general environment.

Building and Construction Permission: Following the granting of Planning Permission, but prior to the commencement of works on site, a list of the main individuals responsible for the execution of a project is compiled and submitted to the BCA by the responsible Perit. Additionally, a set of other documents, namely, Condition Report/s of third-party contiguous property, Method Statement, Insurance Policy and Bank Guarantee are also required to be submitted. Following the submission and review of these documents, the BCA may grant approval for the works to commence.

The Developer
The Developer is the individual or entity in whose name the application for a development permit had been submitted. The Developer may also be the individual or entity carrying out the construction works.

The Perit
The Perit is the warranted professional assuming the responsibility for the execution of the project approved in the development permit.

The Contractor
The Contractor is the individual/entity engaged by the Developer to execute the works.

The Site Technical Officer (STO)
The Site Technical Officer is the individual nominated by the contractor and is responsible for the implementation of the method statement which is prepared by the Perit. Where breaches by the Contractor occur, the STO shall immediately stop any ongoing works and inform the Perit in charge together with the BCA. When an STO is served with an Enforcement Notice, he/she shall immediately inform the Contractor and the Perit and see that it is complied with.

The Site Manager
The Site Manager is the person responsible for the management of a construction site, ensuring that any permits, certifications, authorisations, or any such approvals required for any portion of the construction works are in place. He is also responsible for the forbidding of access to site and for reducing pollution related to noise and dust emissions.

The Worker
A worker is an individual working on a construction site for, or under the supervision of, either a Developer or a Contractor.

Permitting

BCA communicates the approval to both the Perit in charge of the application and the Developer, which document is available to the public on the PA EApps portal (website that Periti use to communicate with the Planning Authority).

It is of utmost importance to engage a warranted Perit of your choice for professional guidance.

The developer is required to make a condition report of the buildings contiguous to the site. Therefore, neighbours are to be duly informed about the compilation of such condition report so that they can set up an appointment with the developer’s Perit to assess the neighbour’s building.  Following this the neighbours may object to the condition report. The neighbours can also object at any time after the method statements are uploaded on the EApps platform.

Following the introduction of LN468/2021, as from February 2022, in the case of excavation works (and where applicable), third parties that fall within the affected zone have the right to appoint a perit of their choice to review the method statements and /or condition reports submitted and approved by the developer (representative).

The Third Party/Parties are owner/s of buildings/property which are contiguous to a construction site and which according to the relevant legislation may be affected by the works to be carried out.

The law states that Third Party refers to any person holding a legal title to or legal use of any contiguous property to the construction site.

The Regulations are applicable to:
• Excavation works
• Demolition or removal of existing structures
• Building of additional storeys or load-bearing structures and
• Construction of new buildings

It depends on the development and if this development is deemed as affecting third parties.

Submissions may vary from the submission of all the documentation listed below.

  1. Condition reports of third-party property, which is contiguous to the development or which according to the relevant legislation may be affected by the works to be carried out.
  2. Copy of insurance cover of not less than €750,000 including the policy schedule and endorsements where the applicable deductibles are clearly stated (excess)
  3. Method statement
  4. Bank guarantee/s (LN136/19 and LN468/21 if applicable)
  5. Site Management Responsibility Form (Summary)
  6. Commencement Notice

And any other documents that might be required by the Authority.

In some cases, and where applicable, the applicant’s representative (project architect) might deem that the works planned will not be affecting third parties, thus some of the documents listed above are not required. In this case the applicant representative will have to submit a duly filled and signed declaration in terms of either regulation 26 or 4 using the official BCA forms

Once the applicant’s representative opts to submit any of these two forms, the BCA officials will review the application and confirm or otherwise if such waivers are applicable.

No. Currently, there are no fees relating to the submission of documents.

Unless the construction works involve any of the following, all any other construction works are exempt from the Avoidance of Damages to Third Parties Regulations:

  1. Excavation, that in its affected zone includes third-party property; or
  2. The demolition or removal of any existing structure, or roof or structure abutting with, or immediately adjacent to, or underlying any property belonging to or occupied by third parties or toothing work with existing buildings; or
  3. The building of additional storeys or load-bearing walls or structures or any property belonging to or occupied by third parties; or
  4. The construction of new buildings or additional storeys adjacent to existing third-party property.

No, each and every commercial bank has its own form for specific use.

The responsibility lies with the:
• Developer
• Responsible Perit
• Site Technical Officer (STO)

Yes, a condition report is required for all underlying and overlying levels within the building.

The third-party has the right to be provided with a copy of the Condition Report of his/her property prior to the commencement of any works. As per S.L. 623.06 the third party also has the right to have a professional review method statement (paid for by the developer) when there will be excavation works in an adjacent property. If there is no excavation a third party may request the BCA to review a method statement for any works provided the request is backed up by a professional’s technical opinion at his/her own cost. A third party can also raise an issue with the BCA about nonadherence to method statements during the execution of any works provided that such request is backed up by a professional’s technical opinion at the third party’s own cost.

The aggrieved party engages a Perit to draw up a damages report which is then uploaded on EApps. At this stage, the bank guarantee submitted by the developer is blocked. If the Authority does not receive notice of any judicial proceedings by aggrieved party within three months of final completion and third-party notification by registered letter, the bank guarantee will be released.

A bank guarantee is required when there are demolition, excavation and construction works involved.

The amount of the bank guarantee should be equivalent to the highest excess in one’s CAR (Contractor’s All Risk) insurance. Usually, the policy has more than one type of excess, including the maximum type of excess upon which a guarantee to the Director will be issued.

Bank guarantees are released when the Final Completion Report is uploaded by the Perit, together with the signed third-party declarations stating that there are no claims for damages or that all damages have been settled in full.

It is the person that has suffered damages, who must pay for the Perit’s fee.

It will be the owner/s of the adjacent complex which falls under the excavation zone and who is contesting the demolition/excavation/construction method statement that must pay his Perit for a maximum fee of €500. The same owner/s is eligible for a reimbursement by the developer. Meanwhile the bank guaranteed is blocked by the Building and Construction Authority until the issue is settled.

This benefit applies only when there is excavation involved.

This bank guarantee according to LN468/21 covers the architects’ professional fees when representing third parties whose properties fall within the Affected Excavation Zone.

 

A claim for re-imbursement of architect’s fees is only possible if

  1. the contesting third parties amount to more than 50% of the complex and
  2. the same architect is used.

As above, this benefit applies only in the case if excavation being part of the works

A zone adjacent to a site having excavation works, that is within a distance, from the limits of the excavation, of not more than the equivalent measure for the depth proposed for the excavation.

The affected zone of excavation is the zone adjacent to excavation works, which zone has a horizontal distance equivalent to the proposed depth of the excavation around the boundary of the excavation area.

Prior to granting approval, all the obligatory documents submitted by the client and his representative are reviewed by BCA. At this stage and only if necessary feedback will be provided. It is not possible to specify how long the whole process takes since each application is reviewed on its own merit and response depends on feedback (when required) from the applicant’s representative.

Those properties that are contiguous to the proposed development and those that are affected by the excavation and fall within the excavation affected zone. Third Party have the right to review ONLY the condition report prepared for his/her property (not all the condition reports).

A geological report is required if excavations are going to be deeper than 2 metres from the existing ground level.

One can object to a method statement as soon as this is uploaded on EApps.

One can object to a condition report as soon as a copy is received by the affected party.

All applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the BCA and a decision is taken on whether the bank guarantee is waivered or not.

Complex means any property on one or more levels sharing the same footprint on party thereof and having access onto a street and where more than fifty percent (50%) of the total owners elect to commission the same permit to review the condition reports and/or method statements that were prepared by the Perit on behalf of the developer.

As soon as the third party receives a fiscal invoice from the Perit to review the method statement and/or condition report, he/she submits the invoice to the developer and a copy to the BCA for record purposes.

One may consider initiating legal proceedings and inform the BCA so that until the matter is resolved the developer’s Bank Guarantee is withheld.

Information that is already within the public domain can be freely accessed. However, anything which is not within the public domain requires the consent of the data subject.

Until the insurance is renewed, works are to stop immediately as they go against the BCA Clearance Terms and Conditions.

Inspection
and Enforcement

The Site Manager is bound to take the necessary precautions and measures to prevent dust emissions from dispersing onto public area and third-party property. S.L. 552.09 which falls under the remit of the Planning Authority specifies that no person shall undertake any construction without utilizing the following dust control measures:

  1. Application of water or pre-soaking and/or, chemical dust stabilizers or any other appropriate dust control technique, during construction in such a manner as to limit any generation of dust to within the site boundary
  2. Nearby public sidewalks and public roads are to be kept clean.
  3. Paint chips, sanding residue, grit and dust must be prevented from coming into contact with storm-water runoff and surface water bodies.

 

The law also states that without prejudice to any other law, any person undertaking any sanding activity whether manual or mechanical shall ensure that dust emissions are controlled by equipping all mechanical equipment with dust extraction and recovery systems.

All external apertures must be boarded with material that must form a barrier against the escape of fugitive dust emissions outdoors prior to commencing any sanding operations.

The Site Manager shall take all measures to prevent any falling materials from within the site. S.L. 552.09 lays out the following:

 

  • for any building, it shall be mandatory to erect hoarding, made of suitable rigid material that is free-standing and independent of the building itself. Such hoarding shall be designed in a manner that conceals the site and protects adjacent areas from the egress of dust and from falling materials from within the site. All external apertures must be boarded with material that must form a barrier against the escape of fugitive dust emissions outdoors prior to commencing any sanding operations.

A complaint may be lodged with BCA through its Customer Care. Should a contiguous property suffer any damages due to the ingress of water, a damages report is uploaded by a Perit on PA’s EApps portal.

S.L. 552.09 stipulates that where the construction necessitates the obstruction of the pedestrian pavement, and this is approved by the Local Council, a temporary pedestrian pavement shall be provided, and it shall be always kept clear of obstruction.

Demolition can take place between 7.30am and 8pm from Monday to Saturday but excluding Sundays and Public Holidays. However, the use of a mechanical excavator with a hydraulic hammer attachment and “pneumatic drill” (such as electrical jiggers, jack hammers etc.) is prohibited before 7.30am and after 4pm

Precautions should be taken not to spill cement or any other substance. S.L. 552.09 has the scope of limiting environmental degradation through appropriate construction management practices that cause the least nuisance to neighbours, minimising the risk of injury to the public, protecting the property belonging to the Government and Local Councils, and as much as possible reducing the harm to the environment.

Hoarding shall be designed in a manner that conceals the site and protects adjacent areas from the egress of dust and from falling materials from within the site.

It is the project Perit’s responsibility to assure that the common wall can withstand additional load. However, owners of contiguous properties may submit contestations on method statements ideally providing technical justifications.

Construction work may be carried out from Monday to Saturday – between 07:00 and 20:00.
During Sundays and Public holidays no construction works are permitted.

However, the below machinery may ONLY be operated from Monday to Saturday between 07:30 and 16:00
1. Mechanical Excavator with a hydraulic hammer attachment
2. Pneumatic drill (such as electrical jiggers, jack hammers etc.)

The BCA may take enforcement action where infringements occur. This may also include administrative penalties and Criminal Proceedings.

Licensing

The only required document to apply for a Mason’s license is a recent Police Conduct Certificate. Follow link for further details – https://bca.org.mt/application-info/

Currently all licences are valid till 2023. Masons are notified by a ‘Renewal Notice’ one month before their licence expires to renew their licence. Expiry dates are staggered throughout the year according to the first letter of the surname. As of January 2023, licences will be extended for 3 years. To renew a license one must send a cheque of 36 euro together with the ‘Renewal Notice’ indicating any relative changes. Masons may also visit our offices to renew their licence.

As per S.L. 623.06 a Site Technical Officer has to be either a Perit or a person who is in possession of a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering.

S.L. 552.09 stipulates that the appointed site manager may be either of the following: (a) the owner himself; S.L. 424.29 (b) the project supervisor as construed in the workplace (Minimum Health and Safety Requirements for Work and Construction Sites) Regulations; (c) a Perit (d) any other competent person

In the absence of a nomination for the appointment of a site manager, the owner will be deemed to be the site manager.