1. Legislative and Administrative Framework
1.1. Legislative framework
The major legislative acts governing the construction process in Bulgaria are the Territorial Development Act (“TDA”), the Chamber of Constructors Act, the Chambers of Architects and Engineers in the Project Design Act, the Development of Black Sea Cost Act and the various Ordinances, such as: Ordinance No. 1 on the categorization of construction projects; Ordinance No. 2 on putting into operation of completed construction works and the minimum warranty periods for them; Ordinance No. 3 on the acts and protocols executed in the course of construction works; Ordinance No. 4 on the scope and contents of project designs; Ordinance No. 7 on the rules and norms for development of the different types of territories and development zones, etc.
Provisions concerning separate aspects of the design and construction process are contained in a number of other acts not directly related to construction, as well as in the ordinances issued by each municipality with respect to works executed on their territory.
1.2. Administrative bodies
The issuance of the principal documents in the construction process – visas, approvals of project designs and construction permits (with a few exceptions) – typically falls within the competence of the chief architect of the respective municipality, against payment of a fee that is determined by each municipality on the basis of the type and size of the works. Where projects concern more than one municipality, or more than one district, these documents are issued by the relevant district governor, or by the Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, respectively. The Minister of Defense, or the Minister of the Interior, respectively issue the same documents with respect to special projects related to national defense and security.
Administrative control for observing and applying the relevant laws and regulations is exercised by the National Construction Supervision Directorate (“NCSD”), as well as by the municipal authorities. The municipal authorities have powers that cover all phases of the construction process, including inspection of sites and all construction documents, issuance of mandatory instructions to all project participants, suspension of works, imposition of penalties, prohibition of access, etc. NCSD has the same powers and it is in addition entitled to review appeals against construction permits issued, ban the use of materials, restrict the operation of construction projects, which are not properly put into operation, and to order the demolition of illegal construction works.
1.3. Categories of construction projects
Construction projects are divided by TDA into 6 categories depending on their characteristics, significance, complexity and operational risks:
I - big infrastructure projects of national significance such as highways; class I and II roads; railways; public ports and airports; electric power plants and heating plants with a capacity of over 100 MW; industrial plants with over 500 working places; metallurgical and chemical plants, mines, quarries, cultural monuments of national or international significance, etc.;
II - smaller projects of national or regional significance such as roads of class III; facilities and installations for treatment of waste; public service buildings and facilities for over 1000 visitors; industrial plants with 200–500 working places; 25–100 MW electric power plants and heating plants, cultural monuments of local significance, etc.;
III - projects of local significance such as municipal roads and low class of primary streets; tall residential and multi-purpose buildings; public service buildings and facilities of more than 5000 m2 or for 200–1000 visitors; industrial buildings with 100–200 working places; up to 25 MW electric power plants and heating plants; parks and gardens of over 1 ha, etc.;
IV - private roads; medium-height residential and multi-purpose buildings; public service buildings and facilities of 1000–5000 m2 or for 100–200 visitors; industrial buildings with 50–100 working places; parks and gardens of up to 1 ha, etc.;
V - low-height residential and multi-purpose buildings; villas; public service buildings and facilities of less than 1000 m2 or for less than 100 visitors; industrial buildings with less than 50 working places, etc.;
VI - temporary structures erected for the purpose of construction and other minor works for which no approval of the design is required and a construction permit only is issued.
It is important to categorize the project properly, as the requirements for its implementation vary depending on the category.