Constant surveillance required

A key prerequisite for curbing illegal construction is proper surveillance, as occurs elsewhere in advanced European states. In Greece, inspections take place only after a complaint has been lodged, either by a neighbor who fears that his interests are being jeopardized or by an association that has other motives. The control procedures are very time-consuming, bureaucratic and ineffective. Rarely is a fine imposed or a building pulled down. To improve the system, buildings must be inspected during construction, before completion and before becoming a fait accompli. If an illegal building is identified in the construction stage, it is much easier to implement administrative or financial measures. A special police force should be formed to inspect buildings, independent of the departments of urban planning offices which currently deal with cases of illegal construction. Finally, civil engineers should go over approved plans to ensure that they do not incorporate illegal buildings. (1) Costas Varelidis is a civil engineer, permanent member of the Technical Chamber of Greece’s construction code and urban planning applications committee.

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