9 August 2019

Code of Conduct aims to boost building quality

| Ian Bushnell
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Construction plans

The draft Code of Conduct outlines builders’ obligations. File photo.

Builders must not begin work on any project they believe may not be compliant and must notify the landowner and building certifier in writing, under a draft Code of Conduct released on Thursday (8 August).

The code outlines the builder’s responsibilities when engaging or contracting people to carry out building work; levels of supervision; critical stages to check that work is compliant with codes and standards; a process for handling client complaints; and record keeping requirements.

It will form part of the Construction Occupations (Licensing) Act 2004, which is enforceable under the ACT Construction Occupations Registrar.

The draft is part of a number of initiatives announced recently to boost building quality and reduce the number of building defects in the ACT.

The draft Code says that a builder cannot start work if they know, or suspect on reasonable grounds that work may not be physically possible, or is not likely to be without changes to the approved plans; if information in the building approval for the work is false or misleading; or if the work is carried out in accordance with the approved plans that it is likely to contravene the Act or another Territory law.

The builder must wait until the building certifier for the work confirms that it may continue.

The draft Code says builders must personally inspect stages of work to ensure they are up to standard, before notifying the building certifier. It lists various hold points in a project when work must be completed and considered compliant before being able to move on to the next job. These include fire protections, building structure before the placement of internal linings, external weather proofing and water proofing of internal wet areas.

Minister for Building Quality Improvement Gordon Ramsay said the new code would set out the minimum requirements for the 3000 licensed builders in the ACT and outlined their obligations when carrying out or supervising work.

“The Canberra community can rightly expect that licensed builders carry out their services with reasonable care and diligence, be accountable for the staff they employ, personally inspect relevant building work and ensure it complies with building standards and approved plans,” Mr Ramsay said.

“We will be consulting with local builders and industry bodies on the code through information sessions over the coming weeks and they will be given the opportunity to provide feedback before it is finalised.”

Master Builders ACT CEO Michael Hopkins welcomed the initiative but urged the Minister not to rush implementing the Code.

“This initiative brings the ACT one step closer to a building regulatory system which supports industry and provides confidence to the Canberra community,” he said.

“The current program of reforms present a rare opportunity to bring the ACT’s building regulatory system up to scratch. We urge the Minister to take the necessary time to consult with industry and community stakeholders to ensure the Code of Practice reflects best practice.

“The MBA welcomes the opportunity to work constructively with Government on the draft Code of Practice over the coming months.”

Information sessions on the draft code will be held at Ground Floor North Building, Dame Pattie Menzies House, 16 Challis Street Dickson on:

  • Tuesday 13 August, 8-9 am
  • Thursday 15 August, 5:30-6:30 pm
  • Monday 19 August, 5:30-6:30 pm
  • Saturday 24 August, 10-11 am

Submissions can be sent to ConstructionPolicy@act.gov.au until 20 September 2019.

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and how much jail time can dodgy builders expect to get? no jail time = waste of time.
also, how many $million can each builder be required to put into escrow for each job, to pay for repairs to dodgy construction?

How about they stop handing out building licences to anybody that can sit an exam. It should be a minimum of 7 years as a qualified carpenter before you can apply for your building licence. A code of conduct is not going to fix the problem. It’s like giving a 12-year-old and unconditional driving licence just because they can answer a multiple choice question online

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