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1 December 2020 / Properties

About the Earthquake building code in Turkey

The Earthquake building code in Turkey has come more into the limelight after last month’s devastating earthquake in Izmir. Homebuyers and owners, especially in Istanbul, where there is a fault line, have asked us about earthquake regulations and construction.

And rightly so, a quake of significant magnitude can mentally, emotionally, and physically damage any person who has the misfortune to experience one. Aside from the loss of life, no-one wants to be in a building with a swaying or ground-shaking vibration, but with Istanbul, it is impossible to displace the population of 15 million people.

About the Earthquake building code in Turkey

It will help to know that since 1940, Turkey has produced regulations, first based on construction rules and blueprints used in Italy. Since then, authorities have published over ten revisions of the code with the latest update in 2018. This significant update concentrated on soil conditions through a geological-survey and how, when combined with the rumbling effects of an earthquake, they determine the damage left behind.

A significant update in construction regulations also happened in 2000 when the law stated, building foundations must be deeper and firmly stipulated as to the quality of materials used. These new regulations came into effect after the 1999 earthquake in which collapsing buildings amount to a massive loss of life.

Focus on Istanbul—Turkey

With Istanbul, which sits on a tectonic plate, additional geological research and work have gone into protecting citizens from seismic activity, and there is a good reason. Istanbul is responsible for 27 percent of Turkey’s GDP, and taxes generated contribute towards 40% of the budget. The government cannot afford for earthquakes to disrupt day-to-day life in Istanbul because it would cripple the country.

Experts said without a set plan in place, a potential loss could amount to 50 billion USD, which does not include the death toll; hence, authorities needed a disaster management plan. The ISMEP project, started in 2006, stands for Istanbul Seismic Risk Mitigation and Emergency Preparedness Project. The project’s primary purpose was preparedness and risk migration, which focus on taking precautions before the seismic activity becomes destructive and catastrophic.

Funded by the World Bank, European Investment Bank, Council of Europe Development Bank, and Islamic Development Bank, the cost of the project was 1.5 billion Euros, a dip in the ocean compared to potentially damaging losses of lives and the economy. Project aims include examining conditions of public buildings and in defective cases, ordering a refit or reconstruction; to prepare the public for an emergency and how to respond, and how to apply the earthquake code to private and public buildings, by assessing processes for construction permits and inspections.

They worked alongside the Enhancement of Disaster and Emergency Directorate (Istanbul DED), for the aftermath of seismic waves to be minimised. Two control and command centres also opened. They included the European Side Hasdal Provincial Directorate of Disaster and Emergency Building, and Kizilay Marmara Disaster Response and Logistics Center (MAFOM.) While the ISMEP project focused on due diligence and prevention, the Istanbul Disasters response plan focuses on the aftermath.

Officials assessed many buildings and they either passed, were refitted or reconstructed. These included schools, hospitals, policlinics, health centres, administrative facilities, bridges, dormitories, and service centres. But how have the building regulations been applied to private residential buildings? It started first, with an assessment in the Bagcilar and Pendik offices. They reviewed the processes for approving construction permits and how inspectors carried out audits. Over 3000 engineers were consulted and updated on the ISMEP project.

Istanbul Apartments For Sale

An example of Istanbul’s regulations is seen in this project in Basaksehir:

Sitting on a plot area of 123,000 metres, engineers have worked with architects to design a modern complex of 4 blocks with 1144 apartments and commercial spaces. Having gone through the permit and audit process, they now present a lifestyle complex fully in line with Istanbul’s building codes and do not compromise on lifestyle standards.

This project also displays a trend in Istanbul’s real estate market of buyers frequently choosing new properties over old, especially ones over 20 years because the new structural standards offer safety, whereas old houses are a hazard. Alongside resilience, buyers get better value for money.

DASK Earthquake Insurance: Turkish Natural Catastrophe Insurance Pool

Turkey implemented new building standards, of which many regulations stem from Japan’s experience of earthquakes. However, they still require every house owner to purchase DASK insurance. This insurance pool aims to re-instate insured properties to the condition they were in before any disaster. The pool replaces the need to rely on public funds, which would already be impacted by any disaster. Members on the board include people with degrees in civil engineering and geophysics.

Many people think the DASK would only kick in if your home collapsed, but they include damage caused by tremors and aftershocks. Examples include structural defaults after a minor quake in the walls, doors, and windows. Sold at any low cost, it does not include the cost of removing debris but is worthwhile for house owners to buy into it. It also covers natural disasters and hazards like landslides and flooding from tsunamis because Turkey has a vast coastline.

Did You Know?

Many people’s instinct when an earthquake happens is to run out of the building. If you are within quick access to an exit, and your senses are fast, this is the best thing, but if not, experts across the world say, do not run out. Instead practise the drop, cover, and hold procedure. So move to the strongest section of the room—usually the corner where two supporting walls join. Cover yourself with anything protective and ride it out.

Also of interest

Real Estate in Turkey: The country is often on the radar of international house buyers because of the low cost of property, but lifestyle and weather also lure people in. In this article, we discuss the current housing industry, and what anyone who is thinking of buying property needs to know.

About Us: We are Turkey Homes, a property and investment specialist with offices all over Turkey. If you are thinking about buying property or would like to discuss the earthquake building code in Turkey further, call us today.

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