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Regulating the Construction Industry


Construction, according to the subject dealt with in this note, covers the processes involved in delivering buildings, infrastructure and industrial structures. Building process usually starts with planning, financing, and design, and continues until the structure is built and ready for use. It also covers repairs and maintenance work.

Building construction is usually further divided into residential and non-residential, while infrastructure may include large public works, dams, bridges, highways, railways, water or wastewater and utility distribution construction. Industrial construction includes offshore construction (mainly of energy installations), mining and quarrying, refineries, chemical processing, power generation, mills and manufacturing plants.

There are numerous laws that govern the building process. The major statutory dispensations that cover and regulate the construction industry include:

  1. Laws relating to Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC);
  2. Laws relating to Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners (PCATP);
  3. Federal and Provincial Laws relating to construction and Building Codes framed thereunder.

Construction laws may further be arranged area-wise:

  1. Laws in relation to Capital Territory;
  2. Laws in relation to Cantonments;
  3. Laws in relation to defined areas falling in a Province.


PEC was constituted through an Ordinance in 1975 and thereafter through an Act of Parliament in 1976 (PEC Act). It was established for the purpose of regulating the engineering profession. The PEC Act defines “Constructor’, ‘Operator’ and ‘Professional Engineering Work’ as under:

  1. Constructor’ means any person, partnership, corporate body or any other legal entity which or who is engaged in the business of construction and is licensed and registered as such
  2. operator” means any person, partnership, corporate body or any other legal entity which is engaged in the business of operating construction work and is licensed and registered as such
  3. professional engineering work” means the giving of professional advice and opinions, the making of measurements and layouts, the preparation of reports, computations, designs, drawings, plans and specifications and the construction, inspection and supervision of engineering works, in respect of —

(a) railways, aerodromes, bridges, tunnels and metalled roads;

 (b) dams, canals, harbours, light houses;

 (c) works of an electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, communication, aeronautical power engineering, geological or mining character;

 (d) water works, sewers, filtration, purification and incinerator works;

(e) residential and non-residential buildings, including foundations framework and electrical and mechanical systems thereof;

(f) structures accessory to engineering works and intended to house them;


Under section 25 of the PEC Act, ‘Construction and Operation of Engineering Works Bye-Laws’ were framed in 1987 (BL). BL define ‘Client or Employer as any person, corporate body, engineering public organization or any other agency who wishes to have an engineering works constructed through a contractor. In the definition of ‘constructor’ and ‘operator’, foreign persons are also included and are required to have themselves registered with the PEC in order to undertake construction and allied works. BL-3 prescribes that “No engineering work shall be constructed except by a constructor or operated except by an operator licensed as such by the Council”. While BL-7 mandates that “All construction and management and supervision of operations of engineering works shall be entrusted only to the constructors or operators as the case may be licensed as such by the Council”. Section 27 of the PEC Act makes it an offence by a constructor or operator to undertake, and by an employer/client to employ any person for, professional engineering work who is not for the time being registered with and licensed by the Council in this behalf.


The Council was established through an Ordinance promulgated in 1983. The purpose was to regulate the profession of architects and town planners. “Professional architectural work” is defined as “the giving of professional advice and opinions, the making of measurement and layouts of buildings, the preparation of feasibility and other report, the production of concept, the originating, designing and planning, and, in association with relevant professionals, producing working drawings and contract documents, specification and bills of quantities, the inspection and supervision of works and issuing of certificates of such buildings and other works for which an architect offers his professional services”, while “professional town planning work” is defined as “the giving of professional advice and opinions in the field of urban and regional planning, the carrying out of physical and socioeconomic surveys, the preparation of feasibility reports, layout plans, and development plans, and, in association with relevant professionals, carrying out inspection and supervision of works and issue of certificates of such schemes and works for which a town planner offers his professional services”.

Section 28 of the Ordinance makes it an offence to undertake, or to to employ any person for, professional architectural or town planning work who is not for the time being registered with and licensed by the Council in this behalf.



Chapter XV of the Cantonments Ordinance 2002 deals with the subject of “Spatial Planning, Building and Land Use Control”. Under the provisions of this Chapter, read with the provisions of section 288 of the Ordinance, every Cantonment in Pakistan has framed bye-laws consisting of a Building Code applicable in the Cantonment area e.g. Different Cantonments Boards in Karachi and Hyderabad have devised “Karachi Region‘s Cantonments Building Bye-laws-2019”.

Islamabad Capital Territory

In the Islamabad Capital Territory, building and land use is controlled by the provisions of two laws “Capital Development Authority Ordinance 1960” and “Capital Territory Local Government Act 2015”. Section 3 (3) of the 2015 Act provides that

“The development, planning and overall maintenance of the Master Plan within the specified area of lslamabad Capital Territory will continue to vest with the Capital Development Authority and thus the overall Master Plan shall apply and no action by any authority, body or corporation shall be initialed in violation of the Capital Development Authority Ordinance, I960 and the Zoning regulations duly approved by the Government. All powers to be exercised and rules to be enforced shall be subject to the planning framework already set in the aforementioned laws, rules and regulations.”

Provincial Building Codes

Building Codes at various levels in cities have been constituted by respective Development Authorities under the powers given by their respective constituting laws. Building Codes are also framed under provincial Local Government laws. In Sindh and Balochistan, there are Building Control Ordinances promulgated in 1979. In Punjab, there is “Punjab Development of Cities Act 1976” under which Building Codes are made for specified areas.

Defense Housing Authorities

There are certain Defense Housing Authorities in Pakistan established under respective constituting laws which have their own Building Codes established under the powers derived from the respective constituting laws.

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