Supporters Network for Community Development "Machizukuri"
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4. Existing non-conformity

 The word "existing non-conformity" means that a current building, which was previously legal, does not accord with the current standard because the regulations, such as the Building Standards Law have been revised since it was built.
 A building should be constructed in accordance with rules provided in the Building Standards Law. For example, a building site is required to have a contact with a length of 2 or more meters with a road having a width of 4 or more meters, and the building area on the first story should be generally less than 60% of the total area of the building site (which ratio is designated as building coverage) in a residential zoning.
 The Building Standards Law has been revised several times as concepts of safety and the residential environment varied depending upon the era. The current Building Standards Law is based on the revision enforced in 1970. Through this revision, the dimension of a building, which had been restricted by a height limit, was changed to be restricted by a floor-area ratio. Before the revision, a building having a height of 20 meters (corresponding to approximately seven stories) could be constructed in a residential zoning. Therefore, when the building coverage is assumed to be 60%, in a building site with an area of 500 m2, a building having a building area of 500 x 0.6 x 7 = 2,100 m2 could be constructed. Such a building has a floor-area ratio of 420%, which largely exceeds the current restriction in the floor-area ratio, which is limited to 100 through 200% in a residential zoning.
 Such non-conformity is not caused in the floor-area ratio alone. For example, the sunshine regulations were newly added and the setback regulations were altered in 1976, and height zoning altered the height limit. As a result, the height of an existing building can exceed the current height limit.
 Also, the regulations with regard to road access were different in constructing old buildings such as prewar row houses. Accordingly, in the inner area that was seriously damaged by the earthquake, a large number of buildings existing before the earthquake had become inconsistent with the current requirements in road contact.

Difficulty in reconstruction of non-conforming buildings:

 Since non-conforming buildings do not accord with the current Building Standards Law, the same type of building cannot be rebuilt on the same building site as that existing before the earthquake. Since the earthquake, this problem of the existing non-conformity has become serious in densely built-up old urban areas, especially for row houses and condominiums built before the revision of the Building Standards Law.
 As a relief measure for rebuilding condominiums, the restriction in the floor-area ratio was relaxed by applying a Shinsai Fukko-gata Sogo Sekkei Seido, so that condominiums could be rebuilt in the same scale as that before the earthquake to some extent. But this does not totally solve the problem because a building of the same scale cannot be rebuilt next time in the future. This measure is a significant aid to restoring housing and aiding victims, but there still remain other problems such as an influence on the environment of the surrounding urban area.
 As compared with the condominiums, no relief measure was taken for rebuilding of row houses and the like on individual building sites. No public support and relief measure is provided unless residents cooperatively work with neighbors, for example, by adopting a joint housing project or forming a district plan in each district.
    cf. IV. 7 "Conprehensive Bonus System"
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