Smaller apartments coming due to rules on space between buildings

Developers will need to construct new buildings further apart from existing structures according to new rules to begin next month.

The rules’ drafters say it is an attempt to cut down on disputes and leave room for air conditioning units, though contractors say it will squeeze space for apartments and complained that too many rules are being changed too quickly.

Starting on September 1, new eight floor buildings on a standard 2400 square feet of land will need to be three feet apart from existing buildings, from the current one foot, according to a new set of rules issued by Yangon City Development Committee.

“Buildings have always had to have about one foot between it and the next building, but this has created conflict between residents and developers,” said U Than Htay, director of the building engineering department at YCDC.

Officials had decided that leaving 3 feet between buildings would allow for exterior additions such as air conditioners. Some construction projects had also disrupted nearby buildings due to their proximity, he said.

“We thought the move to 3 feet would be comfortable and solve the conflict, so we’ve changed the rules starting on September 1.”

The rules only apply to buildings that are up to 8 storeys, as those over 8 storeys fall under the purview of the Committee for Quality Control of High-rise Building Projects.

The new limits also do not apply to all projects. It exempts the crowded six downtown townships, as well as projects on smaller blocks of land than the standard 2400 square feet. Projects that have already been approved are also exempt.

Contractors said that while the concept may be sound, it may fall apart in practice – and rules and regulations are being changed too frequently.

“This new rule is good, but YCDC always changes the rules and regulations on a yearly basis, which makes it tough for contractors to obtain permits,” said U Yan Aung, general manager of Asia Construction Company. “I hope this new rule stays steadier.”

Rules also have a tendency to change when the authorised person changes responsibility, complicating efforts to obtain YCDC permits. Without steady rules and regulations, the building patters are different in the city.

YCDC officials countered that they respond to residents’ complaints when changing rules, such as with widening the space between buildings.

U Yan Aung added that 3 feet of empty space will directly translate into small apartments, as the standard 2400 square foot lots are generally not wide.

“With smaller apartment areas, it will be difficult to sell and we won’t generate as much profit,” he said. “But YCDC has changed the rules starting next month, and we have to follow them, even if the construction sector is suffering.”

Downtown Yangon is exempt from the rules because that part of the city was laid out by colonial engineers, with no space in the design for empty land, said YCDC senior engineer Daw Tin Tin Kyi.

Buildings that sit right next to each other may also be safer in the event of a fire, as there are no windows to act as conduits for fire between buildings, he said.

Source: Myanmar Times

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