An estimated 20 percent of Bucharest apartment blocks that require thermal improvements have had them since 2009, while at national level the share is about 3 percent, according to Gheorghe Dragne, regional sales manager at the Romanian subsidiary of Veka, the German manufacturer of uPVC profiles used for windows and doors.
Works have advanced at a slow pace, and the experience of recent years suggests that the authorities should change the financing and procurement processes in order to speed up and improve works, recommends Veka.
The works, which consist mostly of the thermal insulation of exterior walls and the replacement of exterior windows and doors, have been financed by the Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism (50 percent) and municipalities (30 percent) through loans from the European Investment Bank (BEI) and other sources. The remaining 20 percent should be paid for by the owners themselves, but in many cases the local authorities have paid their contribution as well.
“Paying the owners’ share from local budgets, primarily for electoral reasons, was a discriminatory measure which caused serious repercussions to the quality of works,” said Dragne.
Secondly, the way procurement contracts were drawn up led to a chain of subcontracting which in turn has resulted in low purchasing prices for suppliers and delays in payments. “Because of these numerous subcontractings, windows ended up being purchased for as low as a third of the initial price, which raises serious questions about compliance with the technical requirements and suspicions about the validity of the guarantee,” he added.
Moreover, so far the results of the post-rehabilitation energy auditing have not been made public, stressed Dragne.
Since 2008 the local market for uPVC profiles has been shrinking, a trend which continued throughout the first quarter of this year. While back in 2008 Romanians bought around 1.9 million uPVC window profiles, now the market has plummeted to annual sales of fewer than 1 million units. Should investments in construction follow the European trend and pick up over the coming months, sales of uPVC profiles could also rise in the second semester of 2013, believes Dragne.
Although Romanians are purchasing fewer uPVC profiles, local consumers have become more sophisticated, says Veka. They are increasingly interested in energy-efficient products, less willing to compromise on quality and have upgraded from the ever white uPVC profiles used a few years to more colorful options.