Responsible Maintenance and Preventive Repairs as a Cure: Buildings Must Be Repaired

Buildings must be maintained more carefully than currently throughout their entire life cycle. A culture of continuous maintenance must be established for the building stock, from single-family homes to municipal service buildings. The emergence of extensive damages and related problems can be effectively prevented with anticipatory and planned repairs. Up-to-date information on the condition of the buildings helps to make the correct decisions at the right time. Quality problems plaguing the life cycle of buildings must be solved without delay.

At the end of 2015, Finland’s building stock consisted of approximately 1.5 million buildings. Numerically speaking, single-family homes comprised the largest portion of the building stock. Buildings are also of great economic importance. The value of the building stock has been calculated to be 460 billion euros, which is equivalent to half of the real assets of the Finnish national economy. Owner-occupied apartments and other buildings are also the most important asset of households.

The combined value of building construction contracts was more than 10 billion euros in 2015. Construction industry turnover increased by 7% during the last year. Growth has been particularly strong in the construction of new apartment buildings, industrial buildings, and new public municipal service buildings. The growth has been enhanced by the housing shortage in urban areas, low interest rates, and high demand for investment apartments. The volume of housing production has already increased to 38,000 apartments a year.

In Finland, new construction is increasingly concentrated in the capital area and growing areas surrounding universities. In regions where the population is decreasing, the value of the building stock is decreasing, too. In declining areas, this situation has already led to, e.g., the sales prices of apartments dropping and loan financing for repair projects becoming more difficult or even impossible to obtain.

In addition, one emerging trend in urban regions is the increasing popularity of rented accommodation. In the whole country, less than one third of apartments are rented. In Helsinki, the capital, the corresponding proportion is already half.

Generally speaking, the quality of new construction is good, and the qualities of the existing building stock have improved due to active repair construction. The amount of resources used for the maintenance of the building stock and the level of professionalism do, however, vary greatly regionally, which is visible in the differences in the condition of the building stock. The quality problems plaguing the life cycle of buildings have not yet been solved, either, so the grade for the whole remains the same.

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