Time to act on building quality

Michael Hopkins 19 March 2018 17
rood trusses

The MBA is calling for a system of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) training be established for the building industry.

When Canberra’s peak body for the construction industry calls for greater regulation to improve building quality, that should send a clear message to the ACT Government that the state of the building regulatory system is nearing crisis point.

Usually calling for less regulation and more flexible standards, Master Builders ACT has been calling on the ACT Government to intervene to improve building quality since before 2010.

Calls to improve building quality are aimed at protecting consumers, and also protecting the many quality local tradespeople and building companies, from operators that happily cut corners, compromise safety standards, and dodge their legal responsibilities, which ultimately lower standards for everyone.

Master Builders ACT has done what it can to set quality standards for its own membership. A members code of conduct is in place which is regularly enforced in response to community or other industry complaints. The Association also sets a high bar which must be met before accepting new membership applications. However, these measures alone are not enough. An effective building regulatory system that provides an accountability and enforcement framework, effective complaints mechanism, and focus on continual and mandatory industry training is needed.

Before a building license is issued in the ACT, applicants must hold a Certificate IV or bachelor degree (depending on the level of license being applied for), however many Canberran’s would be surprised to find out there is no system requiring ongoing training to maintain their knowledge of current industry issues. Hence, the MBA is calling for a system of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) training be established for the industry. This would work similar to many other professionals that have a CPD system to ensure ongoing training in current standards.

Many Canberran’s would also be surprised to find out that the majority of contractors working in the industry don’t even require a license before working on a construction site. In the ACT, builders, plumbers, electricians and building surveyors do require a license, however unlike in most other jurisdictions, carpenters, tilers, water proofers, plasterers, bricklayers and many other trades do not require a license.

There are many other reforms needed including the introduction of minimum standards for residential building contracts, mandatory standards for design and documentation, security of payment reform, and minimum financial requirements for builders.

With Canberra about to transform from a regional town into a global city, we think putting in place a modern building regulatory system which protects consumers from defective building work and raises building standards for everyone, is long overdue.

Michael Hopkins is the Chief Executive Officer of Master Builders ACT.

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17 Responses to Time to act on building quality
Danny Bullock Danny Bullock 3:31 pm 21 Mar 18

As a Builder I agree with all of those comments,

I think it’s a disgrace at the standards that are being allowed.

I have seen so much shoddy work being done in Canberra not just in the stand alone residential homes but in particular the construction of the latest craze apartments and town house for residential living.

Has anyone ever asked the question,

Why isn’t the government demanding or making it compulsory for all Constructions to have Heavy Duty Sarking as standard under Tile Roofing?

Save owners a fortune in severe storms.

No They are to dumb


Dory Johns Dory Johns 1:24 pm 21 Mar 18

Bring back government-employed building inspectors and take back control of build quality.

Stan Vizovitis Stan Vizovitis 2:27 pm 20 Mar 18

The building quality in canberra is a disgrace so many defects go unresolved

Drew Reis Drew Reis 1:18 pm 20 Mar 18

It’s well overdue! So many criminals! They must be held accountable by what ever means possible...

Spiral Spiral 7:44 am 20 Mar 18

When your builder engages in activities that seem to be clearly illegal such as:
– Demanding more money after the contract is signed because the supplier has increased their costs (which the builder claimed to have in writing from the supplier) but then was never able to provide any proof for the increase (and the supplier denied any proce increase).
– Not passing GST back to the ATO.
– Demanding reembursement for Land Rent that the builder never paid.
– Claimed extra costs for things the builder new about befiore the contract was signed, but that the builder just “happens” to discover after the contract is signed.
etc etc

And almost no one seems to be interested in doing anything, and those who do try to help, such as Mr Hopkins, seem to have almost no power to do anything.

Then you know the system is broken.

The government knows it is broken, but they get their money so don’t care.

Sharon Lopez Sharon Lopez 6:49 am 20 Mar 18

The industry needs an overhaul - when your house requires thousands of $$ repairs within 6 months of a building completion and you can’t get the builder back, they skip the country and you still can’t claim on the builders insurance because they are registered as a company and therefore are technically still trading - disgraceful. There are no protections for consumers. Builders are a law unto themselves. Change is long overdue

Donna Venables Donna Venables 12:38 am 20 Mar 18

I am annoyed by the companies that go broke, but are operating again under a new name.

Khalid Aslam Rajput Khalid Aslam Rajput 10:07 pm 19 Mar 18

Being inexperienced is something I think is an acceptable thing. I can live with that.

Those who cut corners and rip off clients are usually the ones who have tons of experience and know the system inside out and those are the one's who need not be in the industry.

Corey Karl Corey Karl 9:42 pm 19 Mar 18

I find the whole thing quite ironic considering the gov was the one who relaxed the rules on building licenses basically giving them to anyone who had the money to buy one !!!!! Now surprise surprise the quality of buildings has declined ....... happens when you have people building houses with no previous experience in the building industry !!!Reap what you sow

Andy Beldom Andy Beldom 8:56 pm 19 Mar 18

ACT building industry needs a bullet, recently moved to Canberra and after looking at many many new and near new homes, it is obvious the majority of builders here have little to no pride in the workmanship, quality is abysmal, the stories we hear do not suprise me in the least.

Therese Fitzgerald Therese Fitzgerald 8:54 pm 19 Mar 18

This is long overdue consumers are being ripped off and there is little they can do. Builders are very aware there clients are vulnerable and not in a position to take legal action. Anything that can be done to clean up the current system will be a good thing.

Veronika Sain Veronika Sain 7:48 pm 19 Mar 18

They might want to look at cheap overseas temporary labour and poor quality building materials that builders employ to cut building costs first. Having the lesser tradies such as plasterers and brickies licensed is all well and good but if the building materials are below par or gangs are brought in from overseas here standards differ greatly it won’t make much difference to the outcomes.

54-11 54-11 3:55 pm 19 Mar 18

Back in the early 2000s, I was involved with one of the LAPACs (Local Area Planning Advisory Committee) when the then planning minister, Simon Corbell, brought in private certifiers. He was warned very strongly by many community groups, including LAPACs, that building standards were certain to fall. He was strongly encouraged to retain the then current system of government inspectors.

Of course, private certifiers, paid for by builders and developers, became captive to their masters, and building quality has deteriorated ever since.

Let’s get rid of this sham “independent” system and go back to professional, government-employed certifiers and cease this corrupt system.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 4:14 pm 19 Mar 18

    Is that the same Simon Corbell who tried to convince us light rail was the way to go?

    JC JC 10:56 am 20 Mar 18

    Certifiers and indeed the government before that certify that buildings meet certain planning and standards. They don’t ensure quality which is a different issue and what I thought was being discussed here.

    Quality can only be brought about by consumer protection not inspection and regulation.

aussielyn aussielyn 3:25 pm 19 Mar 18

Don’t hold your breath waiting for the ACT Govt to do anything, they just want to have the boxes ticked and collect the fees. Canberra is the capital for dodgy developments. Leaky rooves, faulty wet areas are normal and the builders know they can get away without an independent building inspector.
When an industry spokesman complains it must be afraid that buying off the plans is scaring off investors. The ACT Govt will take no responsibility and will just have another meeting.

beardedclam beardedclam 1:15 pm 19 Mar 18

Maybe just also inspectors from the Gov department responsible should be licenced or formerly licenced and have on the job experience, not just people that know how to complete a government job application and have their mates appoint them as an inspector or auditor. And the old line that “the private certifier is responsible under legislation” just doesn’t get the results i’m afraid. Time to take it seriously.

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