The introduction of a European building system for the adoption of certificates of excellence for various building professions should be considered urgent. Nowadays, whatever the “master” claims to be, it is accepted, provided that he knows what he is doing and does it well.
In the current situation, houses in Cyprus are of poor quality, especially at the finishing stage. Everything is covered with three layers of plaster in the current construction process, no matter if the brick walls are broken or badly placed.
Regardless of how they are located, in many cases they do not use the specified materials. For example, copper or plastic pipes, galvanized or not, etc., which caused the pipes to leak (it is difficult to find a leak), and the architects, with their inspection once a week, cannot finish the job.
The only craftsmen who require a craft certificate are electricians. Again, if an electrician requires such a certificate, then this is not required of his workers, and the end result is the same (workers in electrical installations have little knowledge).
If the required craft certificates (masons, plasterers, etc.) are required, the first to gain is the workforce that receives such a certificate, it can demand (and quite rightly) a higher price, reducing the problems of the main building contractors, who in turn , require less control. However, more importantly, the result is higher quality construction.
Design is an issue that also needs attention.Although required, the recent introduction of a new system, accessible services, and provision of plans as built (so problems can be detected) are rarely provided by contractors and even more rarely required by supervising architects. The key to the situation is the site master, who must be 100% professional in execution. But quality supervisors are rare and cost more than a qualified civil engineer. Thus, construction contractors divide their time into various jobs, resulting in ineffective control.
If such oversight bodies exist, they will help reduce construction problems and claims in addition to improving quality. In a recent experience, a client had moisture issues and dug out a screed; discovered that the pipes were not copper, but galvanized, the waterproofing layer was not laid properly, etc. Good or qualified craftsmen should be able to comment on the decisions of the owner, architect and general contractor.
The difference in quality between Cyprus and other countries is more evident when considering such issues compared to Greece, the UK and Germany. These countries imported technicians from other countries (Albanians in Greece, Poles in the UK, etc.). A good master is worth his salary, even at a higher price.
One day, a German shipping management company asked a firm to provide our project management services for a fee in excess of the four different jobs we had at the time.After reviewing the requirements, the firm turned down the job because it found that based on the existing quality of the builders and the stringent requirements of the clients, it could not do the job satisfactorily. As a result, the client company brought in a German engineer and qualified foreign personnel to complete the work.
Antonis Luazou, real estate appraiser, real estate agent and real estate consultant says:
“We receive complaints about the poor quality of construction, but this reflects the quality of our workers in the market. However, masters from abroad work in higher quality projects.
Examples include Eleftheria Square and the marina of Ayia Napa, where the promoter hired foreign architects and craftsmen from abroad. Eleftheria Square paid an additional 10 million euros to renovate the building after the execution.
Another but equally problematic is the lack of suitable building materials. The client asked to replace the tiles due to the damage of four ceramic tiles (1 sq. m) in the kitchen (12 sq. m). There was no chance of finding such a small quantity, so he tried to order tiles of the same color and quality from abroad, regardless of the cost. A local tiler removed the tile from the back of the refrigerator and placed it on the damaged floor tile.
As supervising engineers on behalf of the bank financing the Alfa Mega supermarket in Engomi, during our regular visits we noticed a group of foreign craftsmen with equipment belts, etc. We got to know some of the group and thought it appropriate to invite them for a drink later. They duly declined, saying, “We’re here for work and we don’t need distractions to finish the job on time.” Unfortunately, we do not have such a professional reaction in Cyprus.
Five years ago there was a proposal to classify artisans by profession, but nothing came of it; neglecting the quality of buildings is a loss for everyone. Such demands had to be promoted by the Association of Contractors, the Technical Chamber (ETEK), architects and engineers and, of course, trade unions (always demanding more money). But, as we say in Greek, “everyone is silent like fish” (free translation).