Syrian Engineers’ Syndicate and the February 6 Earthquake
On February 27, 2023, the Syrian Engineers’ Syndicate Central Council issued Decision No. 4, which reduces the fees levied by engineers to assess the condition of damaged buildings in the governorates most impacted by the February 6 earthquake: Lattakia, Aleppo, Hama and Idlib. That same day, the head of the syndicate approved the decision through his own Decision No. 27, which in turn was approved by the Ministry of Public Works and Housing Decision No. 1698.
Engineers’ Syndicate Decision No. 4 of 2023
Decision No. 4 intends to provide a unified system for collecting various engineering fees and aims to bring an end to the pricing chaos that accompanied the February 6 quake. Previously, local branches of the syndicate issued separate decisions to determine these fees in earthquake-damaged areas, without referring to the Central Council.
Decision No.4 consists of six paragraphs, the first four of which address lowering the fees usually charged by engineers for inspecting buildings, conducting engineering studies or supervising restoration works. Paragraph five lays out the financial contributions of the syndicate to engineers’ fees. Finally, paragraph six reaffirms that Engineers’ Syndicate Decision No. 43 of 2022 is the reference text for determining engineering fees, which are referred to in last month’s Decision No. 4 as “applicable fees”.
Depending on whether the studies and reports are requested by building owners or by the local administrative units the discount offered on engineering fees is either partial or full. For example, if a local administrative unit requests a technical evaluation report for a building, the engineers are required to prepare it for free. When building owners make a request for inspecting and carrying out a study of the condition of their building, engineers will also not charge fees on licensed buildings or facilities that suffered earthquake damage. However, they are entitled to charge up to 50 percent of their usual fees to supervise restoration works.
Engineers’ Syndicate Decision No. 43 of 2022
Usually, the syndicate issues an annual list of fees for engineering work. The current list of applicable fees was published in the syndicate’s 114-page Decision No. 43 of 2022. Consisting of 14 chapters, the decision lists the minimum fees for civil, architectural, electrical, mechanical, chemical, geological, environmental, software and medical engineering work. It also includes the fees for studies and supervision of various types of facilities, as well as for executive and economic feasibility studies, engineering supervision and more.
Decision No. 43 sets the engineering fees for new construction projects as follows: engineering study fees are 1.5 percent of the cost of construction. This study must in turn be inspected by a consultant engineer whose fee is one-third that of the engineering study — i.e., 0.5 percent of the approved construction cost. The fee for the engineer supervising the implementation of a residential construction project is 2.5 percent of the construction cost. In short, the total fees for study, inspection and supervision come out to 4.5 percent of the construction cost.
Regarding reinforcement work, Decision No. 43 sets a flat fee of SYP 48,825 for reinforcement studies of each structural element (retaining walls, shear walls, foundations, etc.), provided the amount earned by the engineer to perform the study is no less than SYP 167,400 fee. The inspecting engineer and supervising engineer each receive a sum equal to one-third the studying engineer’s fee.
Key takeaways from Decision No. 4 of 2023
The decision only applies to governorates that were considered the worst impacted by the February 6 quake, despite some buildings in other governorates like Homs, Rural Damascus and Tartous suffering partial or total collapse in the disaster. This means that owners of damaged buildings in those governorates must pay the full fees incurred, such as those for licensing, studies, inspection and implementation, in addition to any reconstruction costs.
The syndicate also exempted owners of licensed, destroyed buildings in earthquake-affected governorates from paying some fees if they reconstruct their buildings according to previously approved plans. In other words, the syndicate is exempting them from paying the fees for already-completed engineering studies. Notably, however, this means those buildings are being reconstructed without taking into account the reasons they collapsed, putting them at risk of collapsing yet again if stricken by an earthquake of the same magnitude. The decision also states that the local administrative unit is the entity that may approve modifications to a building plan undergoing reconstruction, albeit without specifying reasons for those modifications.