Lancelin builder cautioned over balcony work

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Registered builder Mark Robert Wells (Reg. BC100361 & BP100416) has been formally cautioned by the Building Services Board in relation to maintenance work carried out on a Lancelin balcony that collapsed in June 2014, injuring several occupants.

Mr Wells was cautioned for being negligent under the Building Services (Registration) Act 2011 for breaching the Building Act 2011 by failing to ensure a building permit was in effect before the commencement of building work but was cleared of blame for the balcony’s collapse.

Between July and November 2013, Mr Wells entered into a contract with the owners of the Lancelin property to replace a portion of an existing balcony. The building work was of a value of $3,000 and required a building permit. The north-west corner of the balcony collapsed on 1 June 2014, causing minor injuries to several of the residence’s occupants who were standing on it.

On 3 June 2014, a Building Commission building inspector and principal building surveyor attended the site with a Shire of Gingin building surveyor. The building inspector confirmed that while the work carried out by Mr Wells required a building permit, the area of the balcony’s failure was unrelated to the work he had carried out. The building inspector found the cause of the collapse to be a combination of factors, including the size of an existing perimeter beam, the incorrect attachment of floor joists to the supporting beams and the deterioration of the timber.

When questioned by Building Commission investigators as to why he had not applied for a building permit, Mr Wells said he was unaware a building permit was required when undertaking maintenance on an existing structure.

Building Commission Acting Executive Director Jane Vallance said the Board takes a balanced view when considering disciplinary matters under the building legislation.

“While Mr Wells was negligent in failing to obtain a building permit, hence the formal caution handed to him by the Board, there was no conclusive evidence to suggest the balcony’s collapse was solely attributable to the work he carried out,” Ms Vallance said.

“In determining the penalty to be imposed, the Board also took into consideration that the work carried out by Mr Wells was of a value that did not require him to be registered and his full cooperation with our investigators.

“This case is a reminder to builders that they need to be aware of their responsibilities under the building laws and to homeowners that they have a responsibility to ensure their balconies and decks are adequately maintained. The Building Commission will continue to name those who put consumer interests and the reputation of the building industry at risk.”

For more information on builders’ responsibilities, visit the Building Commission website www.commerce.wa.gov.au/building-commission or phone 1300 489 099.

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Media release
19 Feb 2015

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