Results

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Before renovation

Apartment

Residents themselves have not “written off” a building where all-encompassing reconstruction and/or insulation works have not been carried out, because they mainly notice and see their own apartment on daily basis. When speaking about possible renovation of the building, the residents do not mention common areas. Also, fixing of leaking roofs is considered only when the defect manifests in some inhabitant’s apartment. Improvements are perceived as necessary only in respect of one’s own apartment, which is his or her home, often the place where children have grown up and place where many plan to grow old. The apartment in most cases is taken care of and, of there are free financial resources, decorated. When the residents of the Soviet era multi-apartment buildings think of their home, they think of their apartment, and functional deficiencies inherent for the whole building are of no concern for them, at the emotional level.

As a matter of fact, the one who lives on the fifth floor understands what a leaking roof is. On the other hand, the one who lives on the ground floor does not care at all. /A respondent in Zemgale region, during an interview/

Multi-family housing stock

Building sector accounts for 40% of total energy consumption. In year 2012 consumption of residential buildings itself was 33% from total end-use consumption of energy sources. Whereas average household consumption from end-use consumption of thermal energy from district heating was 73%.

In Latvia more than a half of residential housing stock consists of multi-family buildings when heated area is considered. In year 2009 total heated area of residential buildings were 87 million m2 from which 54,5 million m2 are in multi-family buildings that have three or more apartments.

Multi-family buildings which were built before 1940 accounts for 26% of total heated area and in most cases they are in historical heritage protection. Multi-family buildings which are built from year 1940 till 1992 accounts for 63% of total heated area. Average thermal energy consumption for space heating of these buildings are 160 – 180 kWh/m2 per year which is two till three times worse than in Europe (Zvaigznītis, 2014).

Renovation

Drafting of the renovation project

Drafting of the renovation project and arranging of necessary papers are described as complicated and time-consuming. Usually, some expert is hired at this stage – usually a family member of the head of the building or any other resident who has had experience with such kind of work (projects, European funds). It is characterized as a huge advantage, and the interviewees emphasize that without the hired expert they probably would not have drafted the project. Heads of a couple of non-renovated buildings, who took part in the research, acknowledged that they have attempted to draft and submit projects; however, they have not been in sufficiently good quality; therefore, they failed to commence the renovation work. Some have gone through these processes several times, and admit during interviews that they will not proceed with it for some time, unless some other resident of the building takes over the initiative. The most common criticism towards LIAA during drafting of the project is related to the fact that they function only as a control mechanism after the project is drafted, while do not help in any other way.

Head of the building

Majority of heads of the buildings assume unofficial role of a construction supervisor during the renovation, because they quickly understand that the employees are not qualified, the actual construction supervisor is virtually not present and/or works negligently.

I came to observe and see that railings are not painted. I asked the girls why it has not been done, and they reply that nobody had given orders, and it is not included in the project either. I said, wait, the repair of the stairway is included in the project, and you want to tell that this is not included in the repairs? /A respondent from Vidzeme region, during an interview/

Thus, renovation of the building becomes a full-time job for the head of the building, because only by constantly watching over the workers one can ensure that the promised works are performed, moreover – in good quality.

 

After renovation

Community of the building

Part of the residents also name shared care about the building as a benefit. Often, the renovation project specifically brings people together and makes them think of the building as a shared responsibility. Many respondents in the renovated buildings, speaking of the house, use such words as “we” and “us” in their speech. Active residents also show initiative in subsequent works on improvement of the joint property – the building.

Life in a renovated building

It is repeatedly mentioned that residents are unaware right after the renovation how to live in an insulated, renovated building, and go on living according to previous habits. Therefore there have been cases when bills are considerably higher than it was estimated before the renovation – in such cases adjustment takes time. As one of the respondents put it: “In the beginning [it is difficult].” However, one adjusted in the end” /a respondent from Zemgale region, during an interview/. Another resident called that “learning” /a respondent from Zemgale region, during an interview/, when habits are changed based on the trial and error method, while one head of the building describes it as a process of learning he had to undergo: “while these people are adjusted” /a respondent from Kurzeme region, during an interview/.

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