Construction questions on “Hard but fair”: Geywitz against the postponement of the heating law


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Construction questions at “Hard but fair”
Geywitz against postponement of the heating law

By Marko Schlichting

There is a lack of living space in Germany, and that is not likely to change any time soon. Because too little is being built. It comes down to high costs and bureaucracy. The controversial building energy law should come next year anyway, says the federal building minister on “Hard but fair”.

Too little is being built in Germany. This has a particular impact on the housing stock. The federal government has started with the plan to build 400,000 new homes every year. In the past year, it has clearly missed this goal. According to the latest estimates, just 280,000 new homes have been built. The original plans of the federal government have not been correct for a long time. Contractor Dirk Salewski, who is also President of the Federal Association of Independent Real Estate and Housing Companies (FBW), currently assumes that up to 700,000 new apartments will be needed every year. One reason for this is the high number of war refugees from Ukraine. Salewski is one of the guests on the show “Hart aber fair” on ARD.

Federal Building Minister Klara Geywitz is also there. And makes it clear that she does not want to postpone the start of the Building Energy Act, as required by the federal states, among others. “If we don’t manage to do that in 2024, the likelihood is not much greater that politicians will dare to do so in 2025,” says the SPD politician. The fact that Germany has to reduce CO2 emissions will not change. “That’s why we have to prove our willingness to change, even if it gets difficult,” says Geywitz. Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck recently gave in to the discussion about the law. The Greens politician said a few days ago that he could imagine postponing the start of the law by a year if necessary.

Building could be much more efficient

Even without a heating law, there are already construction obstacles at the moment, as the program makes clear. Above all, there is the regulation mania that prevails in Germany. The federal, state and local authorities are responsible for the construction of new real estate. Roughly speaking, it looks like this: The federal government decides what is built, the states say how, the municipalities where.

As a result, different building codes apply in each country. There could be differences, for example, in the height of steps or parapets, in the installation of banisters or parking spaces for cars, explains Salewski. The height of the houses, in turn, is regulated by the cities and communities, 10,760 in number. This makes building expensive because it makes serial building almost impossible. In serial construction, buildings are industrially prefabricated in whole or in part.

Federal Building Minister Geywitz identifies another problem: the interest rates on loans, which have risen over the past six months, are causing problems for private individuals in particular. Politicians have no influence on that, Geywitz justifies himself over and over again. But that is only part of the truth. In fact, lending rates in Germany were already significantly higher than they are now. However, there has been an extreme drop in interest rates in recent years. Meanwhile, construction costs increased dramatically. Now interest rates are rising again, but construction prices are not falling. The result: “It is no longer being built. In the second half of last year we had a standstill with private home builders,” explains Salewski.

“More government support”

Caren Lay recognized the problem. The housing policy spokeswoman for the Left parliamentary group in the Bundestag demands that the federal government should spend more money on social housing. 15 billion euros per year are needed. The traffic light coalition wants to get by with 14 billion – in five years. At the same time, the real estate transfer tax for private house builders must be reduced. In addition, it must be prevented that housing associations could avoid paying this tax. “We have to turn tax law upside down,” demands the left-wing politician.

But the most important thing seems to be clearing up the 3,700 or so building regulations. For example, there is the matter of footfall noise, a regulation that, according to the book author and journalist Gerd Matzig, was tightened in 2018. Footfall controls the volume of footsteps that the lower tenant can hear. The ordinance had to be tightened because, due to another ordinance, the street noise had been reduced by tighter windows and the noise ratio was no longer correct.

In addition, Salewski calls for a “right to convert”. This could, for example, convert the area of ​​former underground car parks or supermarkets into apartments. “In this way, around 2.7 million apartments could be created,” predicts Salewski.

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