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Canberra’s building regulations might need a shake up

By Suzanne Orr MLA - 27 November 2017 13

For most people buying a house is not easy, and the decision to do so does not come lightly.

It is common for home buyers to be unaware of their rights, to be unfamiliar with the buying process and to be uncertain of the jargon of buying and selling homes.

This is one of the reasons the building and construction industry is regulated.

When one party is at a relative disadvantage – as inexperienced home buyers naturally are – oversight is needed to ensure they can engage in the market without unwittingly arriving at an adverse outcome.

Under normal circumstances, it is necessary to regularly review the supervisory framework. Industry is constantly evolving and so the regulator must continue to keep abreast.

This has never been more apparent in the ACT than now.

The ACT has undergone an extensive transformation, with the makeup of the city shifting through urban densification and renewal, as well as entirely new suburbs opening up.

The ACT’s population is estimated to have grown at 1.8 per cent just within the year to the March quarter – the second fastest of any State or Territory. The March quarter also represents a year since the ACT population passed 400,000 residents. If we continue to grow at our average annual population growth rate of 1.7 per cent, we can expect to reach half a million residents by the end of 2028.

That is an additional 100,000 residents in a little over ten years which may require an additional 40,000 dwellings to be built. With an increase in housing demand in the ACT, it is important we ensure the building regulatory framework provides adequate oversight and recourse for home buyers and people living in those homes.

Canberra’s housing mix is continuing to diversify. Therefore it is important our regulator is in a position to ensure buyers get what they pay for, and have access to resources and processes to rectify a problem if they don’t.

A number of people in my electorate have raised their concerns with building regulation and the impact poor building practices are having on the community.

As a result of their concerns I am undertaking a survey.

I want to know if Canberrans feel there is a need to examine the current framework, and whether it is adequate enough in ensuring our buildings meet the quality we expect as a community.

Have you had issues with the building quality of your home or workplace?

Do you know a person, business or community group that has?

Share your experience at suzanneorr.com.au/buildingsurvey.

What’s Your opinion?


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13 Responses to
Canberra’s building regulations might need a shake up
ChrisinTurner 5:29 pm 30 Nov 17

The DA for a huge block of apartments being built nearby contained a Certifier’s Report saying that the fire escapes were illegal because they didn’t exit to the outside of the building. The reply was that the builder would get a fire engineer who would certify that this is OK! The builder is allowed to employ the fire engineer and in the ACT anyone is allowed call themselves an engineer.!

ChrisinTurner 5:16 pm 30 Nov 17

The higher than three storeys let-out is that builders are not required to carry defect insurance as long as they build over the three storey limit. Then they can just disappear with no chance of compensation or a fix for the owners. And they try to say we don’t need an ACT anti-corruption commission!

ChrisinTurner 5:12 pm 30 Nov 17

If anyone needs proof of how poor our building standards have become just visit the Canberra Centre when it is raining. The number of buckets collecting drips and signs saying wet floors is amazing. In one area litres of water pour out of the ceiling onto the Bunda Street footpath.

dungfungus 10:32 am 29 Nov 17

It was reported elsewhere yesterday that Rob Henry, chief of the local chapter of architects, has suggested Canberra needs apartments without any car parking. Hello?

Remember all the speculation on many other light rail corridor threads that this would happen, especially in Northbourne Avenue where value capture through high density apartment construction will be intense? Unanswered questions were asked about all the extra cars this would create and how this would compound the existing congestion and the further congestion the tram would create.
It was suggested that the only solution would be to change the building codes to eliminate parking. It’s happening.
You read about it first on RiotACT.

devils_advocate 2:19 pm 28 Nov 17

The main issue is that buildings over 3 stories high are not subject to the same certifications, inspections and warranties as other residential developments. It makes zero sense and in the ACT a number of purchasers in high-density developments have been stung.
Also charging rates for apartments on a similar basis to freestanding homes is punitive and discourages people from reducing their ecological and economic footprint.

I am a Rabbit™ 1:18 pm 28 Nov 17

Is this really a state issue? The extremely shoddy houses/apartments with structural issues are typically built by builders who simply shut shop and reform under another name. There used to be stronger federal regulation regarding this, but Howard in his infinite wisdom started winding those down because apparently we all know “self-regulation” is effective…

JC 10:58 pm 27 Nov 17

As someone who has just built I am confused as to what people actually expect the government to do. My house and those around me are all structurally sound and presumably the electrics and plumbing have been done to the correct standard as these are heavily regulated and inspected trades. So no safety issues.

The quality of the finish on my place isn’t so bad but had a few quality issues and likewise with the neighbours. But I fail to see how any further regulation would reduce that in a cost effective manner or why it is really a government issue to start with. Quality of it doesn’t effect structural integrity or safety is an issue between consumer and builder.

So really gets down to consumer law which I would have thought is already sufficent. Well it was in my case when something went wrong, builder said too bad so sad, I said bzzzt your 90 day warranty is nonsense there is an implied consumer law and without argument it was fixed. Yes builder trying it on. But my point the protection is already there for the most part.

So begs the question what do people want the government to achieve and at what red tape cost.

Spiral 9:42 pm 27 Nov 17

The current system is extremely broken. Dishonest builders take advantage of consumers and the government and appropriate regulatory bodies turn a blind eye. Corruption rules supreme.

The government knows the system is bad but really doesn’t care.

I’ll give you an example of corruption and I challenge you to take action (and I bet nothing will be done).

In my suburb (Coombs) houses must have solar hot water heating and rainwater tanks. There is a house (not an owner builder) in my street that has neither and has been lived in for around 3 years.

You can’t accidently not notice that a house doesn’t have a water tank and a solar hot water system, so how did it get certified?

Unless someone had some really good reasons for an exemption, it really looks like a classic example of corruption.

If you want I can supply you with the address, but honestly would it do any good?

Even if you wanted to something, would you be able to fight against your own wilfully blind party?

You might have more success aiming at a more realistic goal such as world peace.

bigred 8:47 pm 27 Nov 17

Brad Whittaker said :

Suzanne,
the ACT government needs to start enforcing the existing regulations and offering help to consumers. From my personal experience, ESDD show extreme apathy when presented with a legitimate complaint about shoddy building and certification practices.

Agree. There is a consistent theme across ACT Government initiatives; in short, half baked implementation.

Garfield 5:52 pm 27 Nov 17

Suzanne Orr MLA said :

Matt Donnelly said :

Suzanne, why does your survey require that respondents provide their full names and email addresses?

Hi Matt, the survey requires a full name and email address so we can ensure an individual is not completing multiple responses.

Are you sure its not about adding information to the ALP voter database so that come the next election you can email information to respondents based on the policy areas in which they’ve shown an interest?

Brad Whittaker 3:28 pm 27 Nov 17

Suzanne,
the ACT government needs to start enforcing the existing regulations and offering help to consumers. From my personal experience, ESDD show extreme apathy when presented with a legitimate complaint about shoddy building and certification practices.

Suzanne Orr MLA 12:24 pm 27 Nov 17

Matt Donnelly said :

Suzanne, why does your survey require that respondents provide their full names and email addresses?

Hi Matt, the survey requires a full name and email address so we can ensure an individual is not completing multiple responses.

Matt Donnelly 11:19 am 27 Nov 17

Suzanne, why does your survey require that respondents provide their full names and email addresses?

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