28 May 2019

Government to bolster building quality crackdown with more inspectors

| Ian Bushnell
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An apartment construction site in Belconnen. Units have borne the brunt of building defects complaints. Photo: Glynis Quinlan.

Eight new building site inspectors and more support resources will be funded in the upcoming budget as part of a continuing ACT Government crackdown on developers and builders who flout construction rules.

The $8.9 million spend, to be offset by an increase in the annual Builder Levy of 0.1 per cent and builder licence application fees, will mean more site inspections, and extra staff to administer tougher licencing requirements and better educate the community and building industry.

The eight new rapid response officers will conduct up to 1000 more inspections and site assessments each year, while four more compliance officers will be employed to help oversee the new licence requirements for new and existing builders, which will now include more than 450 exams a year.

Mandatory exams for builders looking to be licensed in the ACT across A, B and C classes and for select builders renewing licences were introduced in February.

There will also be four new officers to help consumers know their rights and ensure industry is aware of its obligations. This new team will also crunch the numbers so the building regulator can deploy resources to those areas of greatest risk and harm.

Access Canberra introduced the rapid regulatory response team as a pilot in 2018, and has resolved 348 complaints, referred 92 to formal investigation and 60 to other areas of Government for management.

Minister for Building Quality Improvement Gordon Ramsay said the ACT Government was committed to improving building quality and raising standards within the industry to ensure that homes built today were comfortable, safe and liveable into the future.

“Our community rightly expects that building work is of a high standard and new homes are built to stand the test of time,” he said.

“So we are investing in a range of initiatives to ensure local builders have the skills and knowledge to build to a high standard and are fully compliant with building laws and regulations.

“Our message is: if you want to build in Canberra, you must deliver high-quality work. Going forward there will be no place for builders and developers who do things on the cheap and leave Canberra homeowners with the bill.”

Mr Ramsay said the new investment would be welcomed by industry, which had shared the Government’s drive to raise standards and professionalism.

“We are setting the standard when it comes to regulatory and policy reform to support building quality. This ongoing investment will strengthen the work of Canberra’s building regulator where it matters,” Minister Ramsay said.

A Legislative Assembly committee is inquiring into building quality in the ACT and the building regulator has been increasing its presence on sites after a deluge of complaints, mainly to do with apartment developments.


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