There was a Municipal Building Unit Awareness Workshop series to highlight the processes needed to get approval to Build in Belize. Throughout the country, there are nine building units who are a representation of the Central Building Authority at the Municipal level. The building’s units came about after the amendment of the Building Act in 2017. According to the Deputy Mayor of CITCO, Oscar Arnold, several Governmental Organizations were lobbying for the transition process to grant permits within the Municipalities.
Oscar Arnold, Deputy Mayor of Belize City: “We have the Belize City Council here, we have the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, we have the Economic Development Unit out of Belmopan as well and we also have the Central Building Authority. Back in 2017 an MOU was signed where the Central Building Authority would start a transition process to pass on the granting of permits for construction within the municipalities. During that transitional period the municipalities had to ensure that they met certain criterias, for example hire the right technical people with the technical expertise, ensure that they had a building unit that could do the same type of work that the Central Building Authority was doing. It took some municipalities a little bit longer to get there than others but once you had your building unit implemented and you had it executed and you had the technical people at the helm then the municipalities would stat to vet and give the permits after viewing the plans as well as receiving revenue. So it was a new revenue source for many municipalities. That is one of the reasons why this workshop today and why they had many other workshops throughout the country. If you go to a licensed architect or engineer they would have already known what they needed to do. A lot of people out there don’t, a lot of demolition and they don’t know that they need to get a permit to do demolition. So what you need to do is after you get your plans drawn up then you would have to visit any one of the municipal bodies, the building units there, present your plan, pay the requisite fees and have them then go through your plans. If they find any deficiencies they would then contact you and say listen there is a part of our electrical or there is a part of your plumbing or there is a part of your structural that just doesn’t look safe or doesn’t look within specs and then you would have to then take it from there and see what happens.”
According to Olga Tzec, the project coordinator of the Building Sector Reform Project, they are ensuring that every aspect of your building is up to standards.
Olga Tzec, Project Manager, Building Reform Project: “So wanted people to know that the building units are in place and this actually came about after the amendment to the Building Act in 2017 and that amendment is what gave birth to the building units. So through these workshops we have been able to go from district to district, town and city to let people know that these units are in place and yes I think we have achieved what we wanted. We had people come out, the private sector, the different financial agencies and institutions. Today here in Belize City we had people from the University of Belize, from the different real estate agencies, from the Architects and Engineers Association so it is the people within the building and construction sector that we were wanting to focus on to know that these units are in place because they are the ones that are in charge of permitting processes concerning buildings, demolition, occupancy permits and so I think we have achieved what we set out at the beginning of this road show. Really the main focus of CBA and the building units is to build in a safe way, in a healthy way because we are concerned with the wellbeing of people. We want you to build your house and know that tomorrow it won’t fall on your head basically. As one of the participants today the panelist said Mr.Mark from PUC, you don’t want your house to burn down. So these are the concerns that we have and this is why building units are important and why CBA is also important.”
The Building Units have Municipal Jurisdiction which several Organizations are currently working to amend.