Commissioner's Blog: Home building approvals – have a say
With Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard
Did you know that currently when you build a home in Western Australia, such as a one or two storey house, there are no mandatory inspections during, or at the end of, construction?
In a recent social media survey run on Consumer Protection’s Facebook page, 55% of respondents wrongly thought local government WAS required to carry out inspections of home building work during construction of single residential dwellings.
Under WA’s current home building approvals processes, a building surveyor must verify that proposed construction complies with the minimum prescribed building standards, prior to work commencing. However, there are no mandatory inspection requirements for single residential buildings – a local government permit authority CAN inspect the building work at any stage of construction but there is no obligation to do so.
You have likely heard about the new home built in Woodvale that had to be demolished and rebuilt due to a faulty, cracked concrete slab. Consumer Protection’s view is that mandatory inspections could prevent this sort of issue by potentially identifying the problem at the slab pour stage.
So, should inspections of home building work be compulsory during construction? That’s one of the things a public consultation by Building and Energy (formerly the Building Commission) is asking. The consultation, which can be accessed via www.dmirs.wa.gov.au, launched in September and closes on 9 December 2019. The paper presents three options for consideration:
- business as usual;
- the introduction of full private certification; and
- improvements to the current process in line with report recommendations.
Building and Energy particularly wants to hear views on the potential costs and benefits of the various options. For example, how much might consumers be prepared to pay during a home build for mandatory inspections? Would an extra couple of thousand dollars be worth it for peace of mind and to prevent a higher spend fixing problems further down the track? Also, should any mandatory inspections, if they are introduced, be done by private industry inspectors or by local government?
Whether you’re a property owner, in the building industry or local government, a future home builder or anyone with an interest in home construction, your feedback is welcome via the consultation webpage: https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/publications/reforms-building-approval-process-single-residential-buildings-wa-cris
Building and Energy is part of the same State Government department as Consumer Protection – the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety – and they can be contacted on 1300 489 099 during business hours if you would like to know more.