Reinforcing buildings after earthquakes will be subject to a code

For the first time, Greece will have strict regulations governing repair and reinforcement of earthquake-damaged buildings made of reinforced concrete. The repair regulations (KAM. EPE) enshrined in a draft bill are directed at engineers and will enforce specific methods of carrying out repairs, according to the type of building, the damage suffered and minimal demands by the state and the owner. The draft bill is expected to be presented to Parliament in 2005. When passed, the bill will apply to all earthquake-damaged reinforced concrete buildings in Greece, and also to work done to prevent damage to existing buildings in the case of earthquakes. The bill establishes three degrees of repair – small, medium and large. «After an earthquake, the state will decide which degree engineers are to choose. The owner will have the right to ask the engineer for a higher degree of repair, but not a lower level. This will ensure that repairs are carried out in the best possible manner and that the building will be safe again,» engineer Christos Kostikas, coordinator of the team working on the draft bill, told Kathimerini. The regulations also stipulate the technical and technological procedures the engineer must follow, for example, the way of documenting the damage and designing the repairs. At present, no law governs such repairs. In April 2001, in response to the 1999 earthquake that caused widespread damage in Athens, the Anti-seismic Planning and Protection Organization (OASP) issued guidelines for pre- and post-seismic work, which, however, were no more than recommendations to engineers. OASP has funded the drafting of the planned legislation. The draft bill has been welcomed by experts. «The creation of the KAM. EPE is a very progressive move, as it gives specific guidelines, allocates responsibilities and clarifies which agencies are responsible for what,» Michalis Politopoulos, manager of the Earthquake Victims’ Rehabilitation Service (YAS), told Kathimerini. «The committee that is working on the law has to deal with a lot of issues. For instance, whether an engineer who repairs a building after an earthquake will automatically become responsible for poor work that may have been done in the past.» When the first stage of the draft bill was completed, it was presented to a 24-member team of advisers (academics, representatives of organizations and agencies and individual engineers and surveyors) for comment. Their comments are being evaluated and incorporated into the second phase of the bill, which will then be tested in a pilot stage. The conclusions drawn from that phase will be used in the third and final draft, which will probably be presented to Parliament in autumn 2005. «When the KAM. EPE is ready, it will be a valuable tool, an innovative tool for engineers. There is no similar legislation anywhere else, except for in the US and we have taken that legislation into account,» said Kostikas. «The best and most effective solution to the problem is always the most universal.» The 17-member team working on the KAM. EPE regulations for work on reinforced concrete buildings is headed by Professor Theodosis Tassios of the National Technical University.