Property Guide Latvia

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Estate types by building process

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By law, all real estate in Latvia is classified into three categories or types: Type I, Type II, and Type III. These types are determined by a number of parameters, namely the number of floors, projected maximum number of people residing or visiting, area, storage capacity, and power generation capacity. In turn, these parameters influence the building, renovation and demolition processes, as well as documents needed to initiate these processes.

The rules for determining the type of a particular building are set up by the ’Categorization of constructions according to the building process’ (Būvju iedalījums grupās atbilstoši būvniecības procesam; Cabinet of Ministers regulation nr. 500 (Vispārīgie būvnoteikumi), app. 1).

Type I

Type I buildings are generally small-scale constructions that are designed for some auxiliary use, i.e. not as residential or industrial production buildings. They can also be used as small-scale storage facilities (including water tanks) and electric transformer containers. Type I building have a very limited area, usually no more than 60 m2 or even 25 m2. Although theoretically the regulations do allow Type I buildings to contain up to 5 storeys and be designed for hosting up to 100 people, in practice it is difficult to construct such a building, given the area limitations. In some cases, even when the area allows hosting a significant number of people, this is prohibited by the law altogether. This is also one of the reasons why Type I constructions are generally assumed to be auxiliary.

Due to these limitations Type I buildings are easier to construct, renovate and demolish, meaning they require less paperwork to be submitted in order to initiate any of these processes. The limited scope of activity also means acquiring less permits for different sub-structures.

Before the introduction of the relevant legislation many of the now Type I buildings were built without acquiring any permits or any consultation with the government whatsoever. The most telling example would be a person who owns a plot of land with a house outside major cities and wishes to build an auxiliary structure, for example a shed or a lavatory. Since the introduction of this classification, even such ’mundane’ and seemingly unimportant buildings require approval from the government.

Type II

Type II buildings are constructions that, according to the Latvian government, are neither Type I, nor Type III. Because Type I specifications set the lower limit for the defining parameters, and Type III specifications set the upper limit, in practice it means that Type II buildings are something in between these two - more complex than auxiliary buildings, but not as complex as large-scale industrial, residential or storage facilities. A good example would be a village house for a single family.

However, Type I and III specifications are also incomparable in many aspects, which is why, if you are trying to determine whether your building project is Type II, it is not advised to try to see the specifications as a range of strictly defined set of parameters. Such an attempt would be impractical and would lead to further complications, if the law for Type I and III changes. The formula or ’not being either Type I or Type III’ works best in this regard.

In terms of documents needed for initiating construction, renovation or demolition works, Type II is legally equal to Type III. It requires all the same documents and procedures to be completed.

Type III

Type III buildings are generally large-scale structures with a number of sub-structures and a high level of general complexity. They are most often designed as high-density residential buildings, big industrial or storage facilities, or power generation units. These are apartment complexes with six or more floors, hotels, office buildings, industrial plants, storage yards and power plants.

Being the most difficult to construct buildings, Type III structures require the most documents to be submitted. Besides that, such large facilities often incorporate a number of sub-structures and are designed to withstand high loads and pressures, meaning they potentially create bigger safety risks. This also contributes to the fact that Type III construction plans are studied in very high detail by the government and also require a number of permits.