As a result of the Vilnius City Council’s renewed funding regime, from January next year, Vilnius residents living in the Old Town and other cultural heritage sites will be able to get even more support for the renovation of facades, balconies, foundations and wooden elements. Martynas Naujokas, head of Civinity Namai in Vilnius, a company that maintains and manages apartment buildings, explains the steps residents need to take to benefit from the support.
Residents living in the Old Town and other cultural heritage sites in Vilnius often face a variety of challenges in old houses: a frequent resident of the upper floors has to deal with leaking roofs, many balconies are in a state of disrepair or close to disrepair, sometimes residents are unable to use them, and the building’s maintenance team is forced to enclose them in safety nets to protect the safety of passers-by and cars. There are still many houses in Vilnius where wooden windows and doors have not been replaced, which leads to higher heating bills and less comfort for residents during the cold season.
“According to Martynas Naujokas, manager of Civinity Namai in Vilnius, many Vilnius residents living in old houses do not even consider renovation works because of the high costs and the lengthy and complicated contracting process. With the update of the financing procedure and the increase of the percentage of financing by Vilnius Municipality, there are practically no more reasons not to renovate one’s house.
With the renewal of the procedure in place at Vilnius City Municipality, residents of Vilnius Old Town and other cultural heritage sites in Vilnius will receive as much as 60% support for facades, 80% for balconies and other elements of facades in a state of disrepair, and 70% for the treatment of valuable wooden architecture. The municipality will also cover 70% of design and other related costs. This means that the new programme will allow residents to renovate the entire façade and roof of their house, as well as balconies, foundations, renovate or restore wooden windows and their frames, shutters and doors and their metal elements, with the majority of the costs being covered by the municipality.
According to Mr Naujokas, the average investment for renovating an apartment, after deducting the municipality’s support, ranges from EUR 500 to EUR 6 000, depending on the scope of the renovation works chosen and the number of apartments in the building. However, not everyone can afford to pay this amount of money upfront. In addition, the municipality’s support comes several months after the renovation work has been completed, so it is up to the residents to decide how to finance the work and how to pay the contractors until the support is paid.
“There are several alternatives to solve this problem. Firstly, residents can agree to an increase in the accumulation rate and accumulate more money each month until the start of the works. Another alternative is to look for a contractor who will finance the residents and agree to be paid in instalments for the works. However, the number of such contractors is declining and the prices they offer are not always the best available on the market. Residents can also choose the alternative of financing the cost of the works from a bank or other financial institutions, but in this case interest is payable. We therefore recommend that all residents discuss all the alternatives in a meeting and take the opportunity not only to update the appearance and value of the house, but also to prevent future accidents and the associated costs,” says a representative of Civinity Namai.
In order to carry out these renovation works, the first step is to contact the administrator or the association in charge of the building in order to organise a residents’ meeting or a written ballot to decide on the design of the building and the scope of the works, and to authorise the administrator to put the design services out to tender. Once the designer is selected, the management project is prepared and the average duration of this work is about 6 months. In more complex cases, the design work may take 9-12 months.
“As the management work is carried out in a cultural heritage protection zone, the first step is to prepare the design documentation for the work: the designer plans the materials, the colours, the technological solutions. Based on our experience, we recommend that a complete renovation project be prepared immediately, including the repair of the roof, facade, balconies, foundations and other architectural details. With a complete project in place, residents can decide whether to carry out all the work at once or in stages. If you choose to renovate your house in instalments, you don’t have to go back to the project and pay the cost of additional design work in the future,” says Naujokas.
Once the project is prepared, a tender is launched for the contract works, the residents choose the contractor, a contract is signed with the contractor, the information is submitted to the Vilnius Old Town Renewal Agency, which makes an expert assessment of the estimates and evaluates the financing possibilities. Once the documentation is in place, the contracting work begins, which usually takes up to 4-5 months. Once the construction work is completed, it is accepted by the hired certified construction supervisor, the information is submitted to the Vilnius Old Town Renovation Agency and the disbursement of the grant is expected.
“Residents who want to receive support and renovate their homes should hurry up, as it is a long process and if you want to start work next summer or autumn, you need to start preparing now. It is also good to be aware at the start of the project that the work will take time: buildings in the cultural heritage protection zone are being renovated and the quality of the work and its compliance with the heritage protection requirements is being looked at very carefully. However, if you want to live nicely and substantially increase the value of your property, with the investment largely covered by the municipality, it is definitely worth taking advantage of the programme,” emphasises the representative of “Civinity Namai”.