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Another day, another exempt development disaster

By johnboy - 24 May 2013 9

The ABC has a new tale of woe surrounding exempt development, this time in O’Connor.

Canberra resident Kamrul Ahsan Khan says building his home in O’Connor has been the most painful experience he has had during his 18 years living in Australia.

He says he wanted to build a family home and had no intention of violating any rules when he took advice to use the ACT Planning and Land Authority’s (ACTPLA) exempt track.

Under the current planning system, a house can be built in an existing residential area without development approval, provided a private building certifier checks it complies with certain rules.

Mr Khan’s house was found not to comply with the code, the builders were issued with a stop work notice and he had to rent a house for six months until the project could be finished.

The nearby residents who alerted ACTPLA to the errors also feel aggrieved.

Surely it’s time to throw the exempt track overboard for all but the smallest alterations?

What’s Your opinion?


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9 Responses to
Another day, another exempt development disaster
JC 8:59 am 25 May 13

What I don’t follow is what is being fast tracked is development approval. That is where a proposal is considered to see if it meets development rules.

There is no fast track for building approvals though and all plans still need to be submitted for approval to see if they meet building rules. Yet from what I have read the SPECIFIC ‘building’ issues in the case reported here and the one in Deakin relate to building compliance issues, not development issues. (though the O’conner example of a dual occupancy being certified as a single is a development issue). Sure in the case of Deakin the neighbours don’t like the development, but at the end of the day ‘like’ is a personal taste issue and is not a building control issue. Now yes on that building there were some issues that had to be fixed, but again they come down to building approval not development approval.

Martlark 8:42 pm 24 May 13

Disaster? Just because you are jealous of the mansion next door and have delusions of them spying on your naturalist lifestyle? Prove it.

cranky 7:14 pm 24 May 13

Designed a house to replace a very ordinary Jennings, in a very good location. The neighbors were all informed, and cut up rough on a number of aspects. All these objections were thrown out, but we were knocked back by a 90cm x 90cm triangle that apparently encroached on a boundary. The whole plan was rejected.

Compare this trangression with the clean run given the subject property.

One rule for some.

HiddenDragon 4:56 pm 24 May 13

aussielyn said :

The deregulation of the building industry was pushed through COAG by the Howard Govt. The lobbying, since 1998, was done via the Development Assessment Forum. http://www.daf.gov.au/about.aspx

The objective is to cut costs, time & red tape of developments. Donations are made to political parties who influence planning laws. Another objective is to minimise time in assessing DAs and locking sub contractor tradies into impossible time frames so that corners are cut.

A recent ACAT decision can throw some light on the role of private certifiers : http://www.acat.act.gov.au/judgment/view/5110/title/construction-occupations-registrar-fekete

Resident groups just want developers to talk to the neighbours, in the concept stage, about their plans. End the secrecy and be transparent. Who wants the expense and stress of ACAT? The ACT economy is dependent on the building industry for its viability.

This might be an instance of where the States and Territories would have done no worse if left to their own devices, rather than being herded through the COAG process in the name of national economic efficiency. I still think the best illustration of the broader problems about standards was an ACT 7.30 Report program a few years ago in which (as I recall it) Andrew Barr confessed that he had problems with the construction of his apartment and hadn’t yet been able to get it fixed – so (assuming I recall correctly) what hope for those who aren’t a Minister.

The suggestion in my earlier comment was about making it very clear that certifiers are legally responsible for what they certify, and that there are funds available to cover valid claims.

nsn 4:29 pm 24 May 13

Wow. That house sure is ugly.

SheepGroper 2:15 pm 24 May 13

HiddenDragon said :

an alternative might be to fine-tune the existing system and make the certifiers responsible for the financial consequences of slipshod decisions

I thought the certifiers would be suingly responsible now – after all haven’t they signed some kind of document saying the proposed house complies with the rules? What’s the point of certification if there aren’t significant consequences for a completely wrong decision?

aussielyn 11:11 am 24 May 13

The deregulation of the building industry was pushed through COAG by the Howard Govt. The lobbying, since 1998, was done via the Development Assessment Forum. http://www.daf.gov.au/about.aspx

The objective is to cut costs, time & red tape of developments. Donations are made to political parties who influence planning laws. Another objective is to minimise time in assessing DAs and locking sub contractor tradies into impossible time frames so that corners are cut.

A recent ACAT decision can throw some light on the role of private certifiers : http://www.acat.act.gov.au/judgment/view/5110/title/construction-occupations-registrar-fekete

Resident groups just want developers to talk to the neighbours, in the concept stage, about their plans. End the secrecy and be transparent. Who wants the expense and stress of ACAT? The ACT economy is dependent on the building industry for its viability.

JimCharles 9:53 am 24 May 13

It seems an easy problem to fix when you consider the potential cost and delay with disputes.

1. Anything under 50m sq is exempt.
2. Anything between 51 and 200m sq can be classed as exempt, but the certifier needs to get a sign-off from ACTPLA. A set of sketch plans, brief outline, and you get an exemption certificate….aim for a 14 day turnaround.

HiddenDragon 9:39 am 24 May 13

I imagine that, or something like it, will happen (after a lengthy and expensive review) but an alternative might be to fine-tune the existing system and make the certifiers responsible for the financial consequences of slipshod decisions – backed up by a mandatory insurance scheme in case, you know, a certifier goes broke or decamps. Or could it be done by government certifiers, on a full cost recovery basis?

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