Important matters you should be aware of
before purchase Kyo-machiya.
There are many regulations that are set by the Building Standard Act in Japan, and buildings that were built without conforming to these laws and regulations are deemed "Illegal Buildings", and those that conformed to the laws when they were built but do not conform to the current laws are considered "Existing Non-conforming Buildings". To give specific examples of "Illegal Buildings": exceeding of the stipulated Floor Area Ratio (FAR) or Building Coverage Ratio (BCR); violation of set-back regulations, usage restrictions, and/or the regulated property width that is required to be adjacent to a public road; as well as the construction of buildings without taking the necessary steps and procedures, and making expansion or changing the intended usage of the buildings which, in turn, violates current laws and regulations.
On the other hand, "Existing Non-conforming Buildings" are those that conformed to the standards when they were built, but does not conform to the current laws. Kyo-machiyas were built before 1950 when the Building Standard Act took effect and are considered "Existing Non-conforming Buildings".
"Illegal Buildings" may be directed by the municipal government to make changes or renovations, and if the owner does not comply, an administrative order will be given to either stop construction or usage of the building. Moreover, the individual or group responsible for the building will be held accountable and could be punished by law. "Existing Non-conforming Buildings", however, are exempt from the mentioned penalties and orders as long as they are used in its current form. See "Renovations" below for details.
Repair work such as retiling the roof, repainting the walls, and redoing the stairs are considered renovations and are allowed. Making repairs on primary structural components such as columns and beams are allowed, given that less than half are subject to repair; if more than 50% or these components are subject to repair, it is considered “rebuilding”, and the entire building must conform to the modern laws. "This would essentially require all primary structural components to be replaced with modern ones, rendering it impossible to retain the features of a Kyo-machiya.
It is rare for “existing non-conforming buildings” such as Kyo Machiyas to be allowed to build extensions. Extending parts of a building usually requires one to apply for permission from the Specific Administrative Agency, in which case the building must conform to the current laws (Kyo-machiyas do not).
Unless a Kyo Machiya is built on land that is prohibited from reconstruction, they can be rebuilt. In such cases, the new building must conform to the current Building Standard Law; this may result in an overall reduction of the building size due to current regulations.
Please note that Hachise does not do business with customers who are looking to acquire properties with the intention of rebuilding the houses.