The rehabilitation of housing collides with the barrier of bureaucracy | Economy

Building under renovation in the center of Madrid, in a file image.
Building under renovation in the center of Madrid, in a file image.Jaime Villanueva

Million-dollar items, a considerable political consensus and will on the part of private agents. Everything seems ready for Spain to receive the great wave of housing rehabilitation that Europe intends and, however, this has not quite caught up. The complexity of the administrative processes and the lack of understanding between the public and private sectors are major brakes, according to an official report presented on Tuesday. The study also shows the great opportunity that rehabilitation represents: almost half of the 88 public and private organizations consulted have indicated that they expect to hire more staff to attend to this workload in the next eight years.

With the revealing title Keys to sustainability to speed up the process of housing rehabilitation in Spain, the report is signed by the 2030 Observatory, which commands the Higher Council of Colleges of Architects of Spain (CSCAE) and in which several ministries, other national and international organizations and private associations and companies collaborate. In addition to the seal of the CSCAE, it also bears that of the Ministry of Social Rights and the 2030 Agenda. And to collect and analyze the data, the consulting firm Llorente y Cuenca has been used. “More than 10 million homes require intervention”, summarized the president of the CSCAE, Marta Vall-llossera, “I am sure that this document will help find possible solutions”.

The starting point of Spain allows you to see the glass as half full or half empty. There is much to do because very little has been done. The study characterizes the Spanish housing stock as “the oldest in Europe”. 80% of the houses are over 20 years old and there are even more, 82%, which are concentrated in the three worst energy rating letters (E, F or G; on a scale that starts from A). This is important because the European funds, of which the Government provided items for 6,820 million for the renovation of buildings, are aimed at the green transition and most of the aid is conditioned to improve the insulation and climatic comfort of buildings.

Spain’s delay in this matter is better explained with another figure: every year 0.08% of the housing stock is renewed, which is 20 times less than in France (2.01%) and 15 less than in Germany ( 1.49%). The effort is greater than what was calculated until now. If traditionally it has been considered that Spain should multiply the volume of rehabilitation by five (and by 10 from 2030) to meet the decarbonization objectives of the European Union in 2050. The study now raises that effort to multiply the pace by more of 40.

It will not be easy in view of the barriers detected by the sector (the survey was carried out on 88 organizations: 65% of them private). In identifying where the main difficulties lie, more than half pointed to the public sector. 32% of those surveyed located them in local and regional administrations; and almost 20% in the central Administration. On the private sector side, within the entire value chain that involves rehabilitating a property, 15% pointed to financing entities. When asked where it is considered that there are more opportunities to act to speed up the process, again the local and autonomous Administrations appeared in the first place (16.2%), followed closely by the financing entities (15.9%).

Money, in general, appears as one of the main concerns of the different actors in the rehabilitation sector. There is almost unanimity in emphasizing the need for public aid (95% of affirmative answers) to activate the process. But there is also a large majority who point to the complexity and slowness of the procedures for requesting this aid as the greatest obstacle (91% considered it to be an important or very important barrier). The second most cited obstacle is the lack of information and the third, poor coordination between public agencies.

These concerns are reflected in the way in which the sector is preparing to face the challenge of energy renovations. More than half of those surveyed (57.2%) believe that there is a lack of knowledge and tools to undertake the process. And administrative training to manage funds appears as the main training need, ahead of technical training or construction labor. Despite all the difficulties, the sector believes that it will grow inexorably: 47% of the organizations consulted indicated that they expect to increase their staff to meet the increased demand for rehabilitation. The average increase in the workforce is modest in the short term (13% more workers in the next three years), but in the medium and long term (between four and eight years) it is estimated that it will take up to 36% more of personnel in the sector.

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