introductionBuilding regulations and monitoring compliance has been an issue in the Netherlands since the Middle Ages and the local authorities were trying to set standards for existing and future buildings since then.However, industrial revolution resulted in a rapid increase in the cities’ population causing housing problems that were affecting public health, together with the contageous diseases of the time ,something that led to the Dutch government taking action.So in the 1902 that the Dutch government officially put a housing policy into effect, known as the Housing Act.building regulations up to 1901Dutch governments were trying to regulate the building processes already since the Middle Ages. That was achieved with a set of laws with local character, so called ‘civic by-laws’, which were setting the reguirements for all the existing and future buildings.

(Kocken, 1980 and Kocken, 2004). Compliance with those laws was monitored by clerical employees that were often carpenters or masons. Their job was to check whether the new buildings that were erected were withing the building regulations and they were checking their quality with more of perfunctory inspections and not real interest.

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(Wijnja, 1990, p. 9). So this was more or less the situation concerning the building regulationsin the Netherlands at the time (before the 19th century), described by limited government intervention.Building was mostly self-regulated by local organisations, there was no administrative machine and the central gonvernment’s interference seemed weak. (Bovens, 2001, pp. 35-6)”.housing conditions in the Netherlands (1860-1900)In the second half of the nineteenth century industrialisation was steadily expanding ,something that led to more state intervention being a necessity. Therefore, the government started taking into consideration more actively matters of social welfare and services besides its usual tasks of foreign and home affairs, defence, justice and financial issues.

(Bovens, 2001). Industrialisation and consequently the constantly growing population brought about a remarkable change in the government’s relationship with the building sector. problems like overcrowding and housing congestion, poor and overpopulated neighboorhoods , people living in slums with poor ventilation and light,sleeping in the so-called cupboard beds and all those together with the cholera epidemics of the time ,made it urgent for the authoritiesto take action on housing regulations and public health.That was partly caused by a series of publications as well, concerning the problems of urban housing, making it clear that in order to achieve proper, qualitative housing legislation and public accountability was essential. Two of the most important publications that drew attention to this matter and are considered landmarks, are a report by the Royal Institute of Engineers (KIVI) in 1853, addressed “to the King” and setting out standard requirements for workers’ dwellings, and a handbook by Coronel (a physician) in 1872, which addressed public health care (Vreeze, 1993).

 The first attempt to connect public health and housing as well as the initial pressure to serious actions like The Housing Act of 1901can be seen in the structural and design standards established in the KIVI reports. Furthermore, at the end of 19th century ”a new generation of architects” emerged, and those were the ones that emphasized on the social aspect of architecture.  (Kocken, 1974 p. 340).

 the 1901 Housing ActUntil 1901 the Dutch government had shown no great interest in social housing and building regulations. However that changed with the Housing Act.The Dutch Constitution even stated that ”it is their concern to promote sufficient housing oportunities”The Housing Act (1901) included rules that divided the powers of the municipalities and the responsibility of the government concerning public housing (Vreeze, 1993). The municipalities had now the power to put the law into effect and they were responsible for the building ordinance, the housing codes, registration of properties, slums clearance, and control of construction through building permits.Provincial authorities were the ones to supervise them and if they did not meet the standard their executive duties could be taken over.

Complimentary rules and coding could be drawn up by the central government.1940 – 1981: streamlining the regulationsWorld War II played an important role in the government’s involvement in the building sector. (Vreeze, 1993). No radical amendments were, however, introduced to the building legislation until 1962.

Immediately after World War II, De Ranitz (1946) wrote that the amendments to the Housing Act in 1921 and 1931 had had very little effect on the quality of the building inspectorate: “the organisation of the building inspectorate in particular is in many municipalities still incapable of meeting the requirements, though steady progress can be observed” (De Ranitz, 1946 p. 3). Moreover, very little use was made of the potential for inter-municipal cooperation in, for example, cutting the costs “because many municipal councils had not developed enough initiative at that time and were usually quite satisfied with the inadequate on-the-spot inspections” (De Ranitz, 1946 p. 8). Many municipalities therefore continued to use a part-time official, who often supplemented his hours of work by performing private inspections and thus undermined the integrity and credibility of the building inspectorate. In the post-war period, government influence in socio-economic affairs became widely expanded and institutionalised: The doctrine of non-interference by the state had been abandoned; what remained was a widespread debate on the nature and extent of the government’s role.

It was, however, more or less generally agreed that government intervention was desirable to prevent 1543 serious upsets in the economy. The policy should be geared to facilitating developments which the business community eschews or cannot finance, but are nonetheless important to the future of Dutch society. (Vreeze, 1993 p. 226) The government also played a more active role in societal developments after the war: “In addition to regulating, the government assumed an increasingly prominent role in matters of arbitration, performance and management” (Vreeze, 1989 p.

114). One of the trends that the business community eschewed, or could not finance, was the growing demand for housing. Various reasons prevented this demand from being adequately satisfied in the years immediately following World War II. For example, there was a shortage of skilled construction workers, the building process needed to be rationalised in order to lower costs and raise productivity, work routines had disappeared during the war and investment opportunities were in need of improvement (Laan, 1988 in: Bosma, 1988). Also, the parochial character of the building regulations was undermining efforts to solve the huge housing shortage and the use of standardised building elements and components (Visscher, 2000). To break this parochialism the government introduced a directive for uniform building regulations (Besluit Uniforme Bouwvoorschriften) in 1956. This directive, which was withdrawn in 1979, took precedence over the municipal by-laws.

Hence, any plans that met the requirements of the directive but not the requirements of the municipal by-laws would still have to be approved (Scholten, 2001, p. 15). In 1965 the Association of Netherlands Municipalities produced its model building by-law with the aim of establishing a nationally acceptable minimum standard for housing and other buildings. The specifications were expressed as far as possible in functional terms; concrete requirements and descriptions from previous models were avoided.

This model was developed largely because practically all the building by-laws in the country were out of date and because the new Housing Act of July 1962 was due to go into effect halfway through 1965 (Visscher, 2000, p. 27). The model was not mandatory, but it was generally adopted by the various municipalities as a municipal building by-law. As the model allowed the municipalities to grant exemption from requirements and add further requirements of their own, each municipality was more or less free to draw up its own local (individual) building by-law. This is exactly what happened – but such actions seemed to fly in the face of the original intention of the model, i.e. to introduce uniformity into the municipal building by-laws, thereby improving (local) legal protection for parties in the building trade. The form and application of the building regulations were obstructing rationalisation, renewal and (cost) optimisation in the building chain (Scholten, 2001).

 1982 – 2003: the development of the Housing ActIn mid-1983 an action plan (Actieprogramma Deregulering) was submitted to the House of Representatives, which more or less marked the start of deregulation of the building regulations. It was hoped that deregulation would ultimately increase freedom, improve legal security and stimulate equality of status for members of the public, and ease the burden on businesses and government (TK, 1983). The action plan also described how the government’s proposals for improvement could be incorporated in a Building Decree (Overveld, 2003 p. 11).

Under an Order in Council this Building Decree would set out all the technical requirements for existing and new constructions and thus lead to unity and transparency in building regulations (Visscher, 2000 p. 32). The Building Decree of 1992 set out the minimum standards that a plan had to meet in order to get a building permit. It also set out minimum standards for existing constructions. These standards took the form – as far as possible – of performance requirements. And it contained functional descriptions, which indicated the purpose of the Decree, whereas the threshold value indicated the required performance level.

Essentially, there was no difference between the level in the 1992 Building Decree and the level in the previously mentioned model building by-law. The requirements in the 1992 Building Decree related only to building, housing and design and, under the Housing Act, had to reflect the principles of safety, health, usefulness and energy saving. The introduction of the Building Decree in 1992 was accompanied by an amendment to the Housing Act. The main changes compared with the Housing Act of 1962 were as follows (Bercken, 1994 and Visscher, 2000): 1545 – Building projects were split into three categories: a permit-free category, a report-obligation category and a permit-obligation category; – A deadline was set within which the Mayor and Aldermen had to reach a decision on a report or an application for a building permit (5 and 13 weeks respectively). If no decision was reached within this deadline, the permit would be nominally granted; – The adoption of the Building Decree; – A provision was incorporated which attached public law significance to private law certificates.

 other cities with similar public health and housing issues and their approach at the time (Britain)The Industrial Revolution paved the way for many factories and a large, poor, working-class population in other parts of the world as well, with the same housing and health issues emerging. Therefore, at the beginning of the 20th century, Britain had thousands of factories polluting the environment and millions of poor workers living in squalor. Housing In the cities businesses wanted as many workers near to the factories as possible so that there would be less travel time and more time working.The population doubled between 1801 and 1851, then doubled again over the next sixty years. (Fraser, 2009). Fraser (2009), explains how unused cellars and attics were filled with people and then private enterprise began to provide cheap housing for the new industrial workers, who had to live within close proximity to work due to the absence of transport.

In 1875 the Artisan’s Dwellings Act was passed which gave councils the power to demolish slums but large scale slum clearance did not begin till the 20th century.The 1890 Housing Act made local councils responsible to provide decent accommodation for local people, things gradually improved but remained bad well into the 20th century. conclusions


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