Report: Substandard Construction Awaits Foreign Stimulus

YERUSHALAYIM -
A construction site in Yerushalayim (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
A construction site in Yerushalayim (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The quality of construction work in Israel is woefully substandard, and the only hope for improvement lies in the planned import of foreign companies and workers, according to a report in Globes Tuesday.

Israeli construction is plagued by negligent safety standards (15 fatal accidents in the first quarter and only 17 inspectors responsible for 13,000 sites nationwide), long delays (an average of 30 months per housing unit), and widespread defects in everything from the installation of plumbing and electricity to the hanging of doors and the laying of floor tiles.

In a survey of industry employees during Building Week at the Israel Building Center in Tel Aviv, of 350 working in the sector who were interviewed, 58 percent said Israeli building standards were way below other Western countries. Four percent compared it to the level of non-industrialized countries.

The poor quality was blamed on unprofessional personnel, lack of supervision and cost-cutting by contractors.

The Israel Builders Association has adamantly resisted the cabinet’s plans to bring foreign construction companies to Israel, but 55 percent of those interviewed said it was the only hope for change.

Another issue explored in the report was that of industrial construction methods (apartments that come from the factory almost ready for finishing), which has become increasingly popular in other countries.

Eighty-three percent of respondents were in favor of introducing industrial construction in the building of residential units.

Explanations for why this has not happened vary. Some say traditional architectural design precludes it, others maintain that existing technologies in Israel are not yet capable of implementing the methods, and some blame it on bad memories of prefabricated construction in Israel in the 1950s.