The Australian Institute of Building Surveyors has called for urgent, nation-wide overhaul of building regulations to address dodgy building products. Since no one else has.

According to AIBS president Timothy Tuxford, the issue of building failures caused by non conforming products could be the “canary in the coal mine” for Australia’s building industry,

“We need a modern, nationally consistent legislative framework,” Mr Tuxford said.

“While it is unfair to compare Australia’s building stock to the Grenfell Tower, we cannot wait for a catastrophic building failure before we decide to improve our building regulatory system here.”

He said that while plenty of people have criticised the current regulations and those working with them as a result of the problems around NCPs emerging, no practical solution to fixing the whole system across Australia has been proposed.

So AIBS has done just that, releasing what Mr Tuxford said is a blueprint for the whole industry that aims to modernise and harmonise regulations.

Currently, the rules vary from state-to-state, he said.

There are also “ambiguities in the National Construction Code, a lack of oversight and auditing, no mechanism for checking whether building products arriving on site are properly certified to Australian standards and limited protection for consumers.”

He said the systemic issues need to be addressed urgently.

“Over the years, governments have introduced measures to cut red tape and entered into free trade agreements with other countries, leading to a greater variety of building products in the marketplace,” Mr Tuxford said.

“As is readily evidenced in our cities across the country, the landscape of the built environment has changed significantly in recent times and our regulatory system is failing us because it has not kept up with these changes.”

The system of regulations also needs to be more transparent and easily understood both by industry professionals and the general public, he said.

The AIBS Policy on Building Regulatory Reform in Australia calls for a single, dedicated Building Act consistent across all States and Territories with responsibility for policy formulation and administration of the regulations to be separated.

Key recommendations include:

  • Establishment of a national body responsible for technical data on all building products including testing of all products for compliance with Australian Standards and results made available publicly
  • A nationally consistent approach to the accreditation and registration of professionals and the licensing of other practitioners in the building and construction industry
  • On site random audit inspections of the work of registered professionals and licensed practitioners, undertaken by dedicated building regulators or authorised audit bodies
  • Mandatory inspections by registered professionals at critical stages to ensure building work is compliant
  • Mandatory insurance for all registered building professionals and licensed practitioners to provide greater protection for consumers

The policy also calls for ongoing post occupation inspections to confirm compliance with maintenance requirements, including safety provisions.

  • The policy can be viewed here