This is what a pathological developer looks like in Poland. “There is always an argument that someone is buying these apartments”

This is what a pathological developer looks like in Poland. "There is always an argument that someone is buying these apartments"

– I have the impression that there is a negative selection in the development industry: those who think primarily about money go there: that is their entire horizon of thinking – says Bartosz Józefiak, author of the report “Patodeweloperka. This is not a country to live in”, published by Wydawnictwo Znak.

Martyna Kośka, “Wprost”: When you sat down to work on the book, did you have a thesis? For example, after the experience of looking for an apartment for yourself, you were disappointed, to put it mildly, with the offer?

Bartosz Józefiak: I had informants in the construction industry. They reported irregularities on construction sites, failure to comply with health and safety regulations. We discussed this topic at the publishing house and the editor and I decided that it would be even more interesting to look at the entire housing market. The more I delved into the topic, the more obvious it became that Jan Śpiewak was right when he called the industry a pathological development.

Today we are used to this word, but in the past it caused a lot of emotions – developers in particular protested against such treatment of their work.

And I like it very much.

I think we have a lot of “patho” in this country: patho-taxes, patho-employers, patho-healthcare. For me, all of this adds up to a story about a state that doesn’t work.

I borrowed this term and stretched it. I’m not talking about the most extreme efflorescences like łan estates, micro-studios or windows with a view of the neighbor’s wall. For me, the entire real estate market in Poland is pathological. Even if there are developers who care about the quality of the product, they still work in a system that somehow forces them to optimize profits. Another thing is that they want to optimize in order to extract profits.

We have a completely privatized market and all these things: poor quality materials, bad planning, lack of greenery, are a derivative of the original sin of treating housing like any other commodity.

Here we enter a shaky ground, because depending on, let’s call it, a certain value system in relation to property, the assessment of whether it is a right or a commodity can seriously divide adversaries. But if a right, then in what form? TBSs?

I believe that TBSs best implement the Northern European idea of ​​state-built apartments in Polish conditions, not only for the poorest, but also for people who do not want or cannot buy an apartment.

The problem is that most local governments do not build because they do not have the money or political will. Apartments are difficult to capitalize on politically. It is easier to open a road in a big way because more people will use it. In turn, the central government does not build apartments because it has transferred this obligation to the private sector.

In discussions about the quality of construction, sooner or later there is always an argument that people will buy these houses in semi-detached houses anyway, that micro-studios have their target group…

Yes, people have to buy because they have no choice. This argument is a transfer of consumer logic to the basic good, which is housing.

Normally, when many people buy a good, it means that there is demand, the product is good. This rule does not apply to apartments: people buy them not necessarily because they want to live in them or would not like to live in a better standard – to have well-insulated walls, or for moisture not to collect under the window – but they have to live somewhere.

In addition, there is the issue of limited mobility: we cannot always live where we would like, but we have to choose a town or even a district that is close to work, sick parents, or where a child goes to school.

As a result, we choose from an offer that is – even if it is far from expectations. I understand developers who say that they build “for clients” and design apartments that buyers can afford. However, these arguments are true until people have to finance their purchase with their loans, which is, and I will insist on this, a flawed mechanism, because there should be an alternative to owner-occupied apartments.

You said that “patho” is not only extreme cases of apartments that offend the art of construction, but also many smaller errors. Which of them are symptomatic?

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