Many norms - expensive housing?
The bureaucratic madness in housing construction

The SWR-Story "Many norms - expensive housing" is a film by Tatjana Mischke and will be broadcasted on the 16th of april at 9 p.m. on SWR-television.

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It has long been suspected behind closed doors, but now the SWR story "Many standards - expensive flats" provides proof: the work at the German Institute for Standardisation (DIN for short) is not transparent. Is industry using this opaque approach to its own economic advantage? The SWR story "Many standards - expensive flats" on 16 April at 9 pm on SWR.

What is going wrong with the standardisation?
The DIN Institute has been organising standardisation for over 100 years. At the non-profit institute, each standard has its own working committee - there are hundreds of them in total. Experts from many areas of society sit on each committee, because a standard should be developed in such a way that everyone benefits. This is stipulated in a contract between the Federal Republic of Germany and the DIN Institute.

Who sits at the table in the working committees at DIN has so far remained a secret. However, SWR's research shows that there is a blatant preponderance of industry in some of the building standards working committees. Kassem Taher-Saleh is the "Grünen" representative on the building committee. He shows SWR previously secret documents that prove that the DIN committees in the field of electrical equipment or noise protection are made up of up to 83 per cent business representatives.

DIN criticised
Building contractor Dirk Salewski sees the big players in the construction industry as having a clear advantage when it comes to standardisation: "It's the system. The big players have the money and the staff and the small players fall behind, that's the core problem." Anti-trust law expert Prof. Christian Kersting (HHU Düsseldorf) criticises the secrecy at DIN: "Standardisation is not a witness protection programme."

The consequences
There is a shortage of hundreds of thousands of flats in Germany, construction costs are spiralling out of control and rents are rising to astronomical levels. But it's not just high interest rates and rising material costs that are exacerbating the housing crisis: countless specifications, guidelines and standards are making living more expensive. There are over 3,900 standards in the construction industry alone: from stair height and noise protection to sloping roofs. Everyone agrees that standardisation is actually a good thing, but is it democratically legitimate if the majority of the committees are dominated by industry?

Author Tatjana Mischke
Producer: Valentin Thurn
Editorial: Claus Hanischdörfer