Concern about 'series 464' apartment blocks in Rīga

After the roof collapse in a residential building in Bolderāja earlier this year, the Rīga House Manager (RNP) is checking all other houses of the same type, 'series 464' or the so-called 'new Lithuanian project'. At least eight of the inspected houses need reinforcement of roof panels to avoid them caving in, Latvian Radio reported on December 29.

In November, in Bolderāja, at Stūrmaņu Street 3, a concrete plate detached from the roof of a five-story multi-apartment building in series 464 and fell into the attic, creating cracks in the ceiling on the fifth floor. Following this incident, the authorities promised that all buildings in series 464 will be inspected and, if necessary, the problems will be addressed proactively.

The series 464, or the 'new Lithuanian project', was built starting in the early 1960s and they are found virtually all across Rīga: Purvciems, Jugla, Āgenskalns, Bolderāja, Ziepniekkalns, Sarkandaugava, Ķengarags, Imanta, and other neighborhoods.

RNP spokeswoman Una Grenevica said that only a part of the buildings had been inspected at the moment, but there are already some conclusions.

"The conclusion is that problems have mainly been observed in houses located in Bolderāja. Consequently, we only confirm once again that hypothesis that some serious errors have been made in the construction. Therefore, there is this result. In general, these are about eight buildings where reinforcement jobs are to be carried out," said Grenevica.

It is currently concluded that the buildings with problems were constructed in 1978. It was done by one building unit using the same materials.

According to Grenevica, buildings in series 464 are divided into three different types of rooftops, and risks have been identified only for buildings with one type of roof solution. Together, there are around 400 buildings under the supervision of RNP, built on the sample of series 464, but not all have the risky roof solution.

Mārtiņš Auders, director of the Housing Policy Department of the Ministry of Economics, told us that the Ministry picks a type of building each year, which is subject to an in-depth examination throughout Latvia by experts selected in the procurement order. For example, this year, series 602 is being tested. In the past, however, testing has also been carried out for the houses in series 464. It has been concluded that roof panels are indeed in the risk area.

"In general, buildings meet the requirements, such collapse threats have not been identified, but there are, of course, a series of defects. One of these defects – in some houses, the length of the roof-panel support is often less than 5 centimeters or there are cracks found. Standard solutions have also been provided to correct this defect," said Auders.

Other shortcomings have also been identified for the series. For example, the rainwater drainage system often distorts the foundation. All the inspection materials can be found on the website bis.gov.lv. According to Auders, each manager is obliged to know this information because it serves as a guide for the management of each type of building.

Riga Technical University Construction Engineering Faculty's lead researcher Aigars Ūdris said – in the context of the roof panels, it is important to understand that there are two generations of 464 series houses. The misfortunes with the roof panels are attributable to the younger generation.

However, in any case, it is not possible to define exactly which type of building is characterized by specific problems, so it is important to follow the rules and carry out a preventive survey twice a year, and every 10 years a proper technical survey.

"Of course there are such problematic moments for each of these series, but that doesn't mean that if we look at these places, then it's definitely all right or vice versa. We need to look at each situation in combinations. Consequently, I would not like to say that if you look and the roof is fine, then we can live peacefully," said Ūdris.

He expressed concerns about whether there are enough sufficiently qualified specialists in Latvia who are able to perform high-quality tests and prevent risks. Meanwhile, the survey of all the listed series 464 houses is expected to be completed in February next year.

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