Renovations and alterations
Systematic maintenance and repairs are unavoidable to ensure that the constructed environment remains operational and the cityscape remains pleasant. Buildings suffer wear from use. Renovations and repairs improve the quality of buildings and can, for example, improve resident comfort and energy efficiency.
Careful preparation of a renovation or repair project helps to avoid many problems. Project management, planning and execution should be carried out with the help of experts from the very beginning of the project. The majority of the costs of construction and building use are already fixed during project planning.
Before undertaking a project
Before proceeding to the planning of a renovation or an alteration project, one should find out if permits are needed and investigate the following four areas:
1. Compliance with the detailed plan and any building protection obligations. What does the detailed plan regulate in relation to the project? Compliance with the detailed plan forms the basis of the planning. Historically or architecturally valuable buildings or cityscape must not be spoiled. Renovations must be carried out with respect to the building’s special properties and features.
2. Technical investigations. All aspects affecting the project must be investigated. Technical aspects can be found out by inspecting the condition of the building and with other expert investigations. The drawings of the building are available from the Arska online service or the Building Control archives.
3. Opportunities to improve energy efficiency. Opportunities to improve energy efficiency must always be investigated in renovation projects requiring a permit. The energy-efficiency report form that must be attached to the permit application is available from the website of the metropolitan areas’ building controls at www.pksrava.fi.
4. Selection and approval of designers. One of the main obligations of anyone who undertakes a construction project is to ensure that the project is carried out by competent designers. As necessary, Building Control assesses the qualifications of proposed designers.
Whether the project requires a permit should be investigated before a renovation or an alteration of an apartment is undertaken. A competent designer knows the permit requirements and can provide assistance in interpreting permit requirements. An investigation of permit requirements could be done by studying the policies of permit requirements that are included in the instructions on the Building Control website. Also read the page Do I need a permit?
Even if a permit is not required, renovations and alterations are regulated, sometimes strictly, by the City of Helsinki building order, the detailed plan, legislation concerning the project in question and the housing company.
The online Arska service of Building Control contains the main and technical drawings as well as special drawings of nearly all Helsinki buildings. Other permit documents, drawings and special drawings that cannot be found from Arska can be examined at the Building Control archives at Siltasaarenkatu 13.
Electrical drawings must be preserved by the building owner or occupant. They are not available from the Building Control archives.
The Tellinki service of Building Control answers questions concerning permit requirements and starting a project. At Tellinki, you can read guidebooks and obtain copies of the department’s instructions.
A housing company planning to build elevators in an old building should contact the City elevator representative in good time before the project. Those planning attic projects are assisted by the Building Control attic team.
All essential links related to renovations are compiled in the Ministry of the Environment’s Korjaustieto portal on renovation information. The Rakennusperintö (building heritage) pages of the Ministry of the Environment and the National Board of Antiquities also contain information about renovations. The building control of Oulu is developing energy-related renovation pages that provide practical guidance for energy-related projects.