The Australian Built Environment Council (ASBEC) is calling on government to make urgent changes to the way building compliance is enforced.
“It’s an open secret that Australians are being ripped off by poor enforcement of the National Construction Code (NCC)”, says a press release issued by the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council.
Poor enforcement of the the NCC – which sets minimum standards for safety, health, comfort and energy use – has resulted in consumers missing out on the safe, functional buildings they paid for, ASBEC says.
‘Building Confidence’, a 2018 report by Professor Peter Shergold and Bronwyn Weir, commissioned by Australia’s Building Ministers’ Forum, found major issues with the enforcement of the NCC and made 22 recommendations to address the issues.
“Australian families building or renovating homes need to get what the regulations say they are entitled to – a safe home with minimum standards for energy performance,” says ASBEC executive director Suzanne Toumbourou.
“Failure to ensure compliance with these standards risks leaving them with homes that lack the comfort and health that the NCC’s energy performance standards help to deliver, as well as higher bills. At the same time, commercial clients also risk incurring huge energy expenses if the Code is not enforced, affecting the bottom line at a time when many businesses are under threat.”
Shergold and Weir’s 2018 recommendations were:
- registration of building practitioners
- consistent requirements for registration
- continuing professional development
- career paths for building surveyors
- improving collaboration between regulators
- effective regulatory powers
- strategy for the proactive regulation of commercial buildings
- collaboration with fire authorities in the development of fire safety design
- integrity of private building surveyors
- codes of conduct for building surveyors
- role of building surveyors in enforcement
- collection and sharing of data and intelligence
- responsibility of design practitioners
- adequate documentation for performance solutions
- approval of performance solutions for constructed building work
- approval of documentation throughout the construction process
- independent third party review
- mandatory inspections
- inspection and certification of fire safety system installation
- a building manual for commercial buildings
- building product safety, and
- better terminology literacy, implementation of the recommendations and implementation plans.
“It’s up to our state and territory governments to make sure the rules are followed and buildings are compliant with the Code,” says Nicholas Burt, chair of ASBEC’s Compliance Working Group and CEO of the Facility Management Association of Australia.
“ASBEC supports the recommendations in ‘Building Confidence’,” adds Burt. “We have worked collaboratively with industry leaders to compile crucial policy responses to ensure Australians get the buildings they pay for in terms of health, comfort and energy efficiency.”
ASBEC’s policy responses seek to deliver:
- key competencies and accreditation for building professionals who undertake energy efficiency assessments
- a nationally consistent system of regulatory oversight to ensure energy efficiency standards are met
- building documentation and permits that ensure energy and sustainability provisions in the NCC are properly met, and
- a building log book or electric building passport that can be audited and passed on to subsequent owners to ensure buildings are compliant throughout their life cycle.