March 24, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Reconstruction of old buildings: the danger that awaits residents

Experts warn that in Greece there is insufficient seismic survey of real estate objects intended for commercial use.

A bomb ready to explode is, according to experts, commercial modernization of old buildings, which is carried out without preliminary checks for structural adequacy (!). Those who are familiar with this problem usually describe it like this: “It terrifies us.”

However, the “biblical catastrophe”, the deadly earthquake in Turkey and Syria with thousands of victims, as well as the surge of seismic activity in Greece in recent months, have led many people to speak openly about this problem and the danger posed by uncontrolled building upgrades/renovations.

Hellenic Builders’ Federation President Dimitris Kapsimalis said: “Do not start renovations without first checking the structural adequacy of multi-family buildings built before 1959 and most of those built before 1984.”

It is reasonable to ask the question: “How did this problem arise?”. “In recent years, entire buildings (apartment buildings) were acquired mainly by foreign investors. Their date of construction is either before 1959 or in the 1960s and 1970s. These are properties that have been radically renovatedand then rented out or sold,” says Konstantinos Kanellopoulos, General Secretary of the Hellenic Builders Federation, civil engineer.

“Unfortunately, the work carried out on most of these buildings, although involving extensive renovation, is carried out without supervision and structural adequacy by an engineer, as their new owners, seeking low costs, do not issue even the minimum necessary permits for small building works” , says Mr Kanellopoulos. According to him, “in all these buildings a large number of internal walls are removed, partitions and structural loads on the floors are changed.” In addition, intervention is often made in the building frame (by drilling holes in ceilings and beams) to modify or add stairs, as well as exits and passages.

Moreover, according to the expert, many roofs change the purpose of auxiliary rooms, which turn into the mainentire terraces are turned into a garden and various structures are added (arbors, sheds, barbecues and stoves, built-in benches and even a jacuzzi), adding uncontrolled static loads on these older buildings, compromising their structural and seismic strength.


“For many years we have pointed out that any intervention in old buildings must be carried out with great care, after a special study and with great care, emphasizes, in particular, academician, member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, Honored Professor of the National Technical University of Athens Panagiotis Karidis. “This is due to the fact that for a long time buildings began to “grow”, increase in height (by adding floors) and / or by expanding the layout in old buildings, where the state subsequently made it possible to increase the land use factor.”

However, as he points out, relatively recently there has also been significant construction activity in the commercial refurbishment of old high-rise buildings for short-term rentals, office conversions, and so on.


According to Panagiotis Karidis, two things need to be done: first, before carrying out any intervention of this kind on a building built before 1985, a seismic suitability study with full structural mapping must be carried out. And secondly, to enable the construction of pilot apartment buildings with appropriate stiffness and strength elementswhere it will be necessary after a special study.

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