Fear of EU directive makes Czechs hurry to secure building permits

Pasivhaus (Foto: Pichler Haus, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Czechs are racing to file applications for building permits, with official figures showing that the number of applications in the first half of 2019 was the highest in 10 years. The main reason appears to be an EU directive that will make building more expensive from 2020, when stricter environmental rules come in. However, representatives of both business and government say that modern technologies will help save money in the long term.

Photo: Pichler Haus,  CC BY-SA 3.0
According to the European Commission, around two-fifths of total energy consumption is used up through activities such as heating, electricity consumption and boiling water.

One measure aimed at combatting this high number is an EU directive which will come into effect from the beginning of 2020.

It requires newly constructed houses to be 20 percent more energy efficient compared to the 1990 threshold.

Owners may therefore have to ensure that the houses they build from next year will contain objects such as triple-pane glass windows, insulation, or solar collectors for water heating.

According to Pavel Ševčík, from the Czech Association of Building Entrepreneurs, these new requirements could increase the cost of constructing a house after 2020 by around 10 percent.

Many Czechs are therefore trying to start constructing new houses before the directive comes into effect. The result of these efforts is not just an increase in building permit applications, but also a rise in construction material prices.

However, people actually have little to fear from eco-friendly building materials, Petr Vaněrka, the director of one of the country’s main building material sellers Pro-doma, told Czech Television recently.

“If you decide to build with filled masonry you will pay around 10 to 20 percent more. However, these extra costs will easily be compensated by savings when it comes to things such as scaffolding, time and construction complexity.”

Photo: Ulrike Leone,  Pixabay / CC0
Apart from their materials, owners building their houses after 2020 can also resort to ecological energy devices to make their houses reach the required efficiency demands.

Investment into such technologies will likely pay for itself within 10 years, says Roman Šubert, the director of the Czech Republic’s Association of Energy Specialists, because of the lower resulting maintenance costs.

What is more, people have much to choose from. There also exists a wide variety of such technologies, Vladimír Sochor, the director of the department of energy effectivity and savings at the Ministry of Industry and Trade, told Czech Radio.

“In the future every house will need renewable energy sources. Today one talks of solar panels on roofs combined with a battery or heat pump.”

Despite what the onrush of building permit requests suggests, some Czechs do realize the long-term financial benefits of eco-friendly houses.

Those who cannot afford to wait for years to see their investment pay off can also try to secure subsidies via the Ministry of Environment’s Nová zelená úsporám programme (New Green Light to Savings), which is open to applications until December 31, 2021. www.novazelenausporam.cz