Have your say on building industry registration
WA’s building regulator is seeking public comment on proposals to review registration requirements for building practitioners and contractors.
The consultation is part of Building and Energy’s broad review of the compliance and enforcement framework for the WA building industry. The main aim of the initiatives is to improve confidence in the building sector and respond to a major national report, Building Confidence.
After recently seeking feedback on approval processes for residential and commercial buildings and registration of building engineers, Building and Energy’s latest consultation paper examines proposals affecting WA’s Building Services (Registration) Act 2011 and related regulations.
Among the ideas is a three-tier system in which builders would be registered to build low-rise, medium-rise or all classes of buildings. Building contractors and building practitioners in WA are currently registered under a single tier covering all building types.
Building and Energy Executive Director Saj Abdoolakhan said all other Australian states and territories had some form of tiered builder registration.
“Different skills, expertise and risks are involved with more complex structures, such as multi-storey apartment buildings, compared to smaller projects,” he said.
“A tiered system would mean the required qualifications and experience better align with the type and complexity of work a builder actually undertakes. This would also improve safeguards for consumers and building occupants, while supporting targeted skills development in the industry.”
Input is also sought on more robust training requirements and evidence for registration applications, as well as changes to the registration threshold. Currently, registration as a building contractor is mandatory for work valued at $20,000 or more that requires a building permit.
“The threshold means people can carry out lower-value, relatively low-risk work – such as small sheds, patios or minor renovations – without requiring the same qualifications and experience as those involved in major construction projects,” Mr Abdoolakhan said.
“We are interested to hear people’s views on whether this threshold needs changing, as well as whether builder registration should be required for exempt work, such as farm buildings, and in exempt locations in remote and regional WA.”
Another proposal is to introduce a type of registration for commercial project managers, who can influence decisions and priorities in large construction projects, and owners’ representatives, who are appointed by project owners to coordinate the design, approval and construction of commercial buildings.
The consultation also examines proposals to strengthen investigation and disciplinary powers to enhance consumer protection. One proposal is to double the penalties available to the Building Services Board (BSB) and the State Administrative Tribunal, which can currently issue fines up to $5,000 and $25,000 respectively for breaches of building registration laws.
“The Building Confidence report recommends stronger enforcement powers for all building regulators, so the measures suggested in our paper for this particular legislation are part of a much bigger picture,” Mr Abdoolakhan said.
“Enforcement also supports businesses by strengthening consumer confidence and providing a fairer playing field for businesses that do undertake compliant work.”
The paper also discusses a proposal to increase the maximum penalty to $50,000 for unregistered providers who carry out building services that require registration, in recognition of the high risks associated with such activity.
Other disciplinary proposals are aimed at achieving more timely or targeted outcomes, such as expanding the BSB’s ability to deal with less complex complaints, changes to orders that suspend registration due to improper conduct and extending disciplinary action to include breaches of all WA building-related legislation.
“I encourage building owners, industry members and all other stakeholders to take this opportunity to have a say on a wide range of issues affecting who provides particular building services and ways to uphold high standards of work and conduct,” Mr Abdoolakhan said.
“This consultation is the first stage of the process. Any reforms will be communicated clearly and phased in carefully over time.”
Submissions close on 29 January 2021.
The “Registration of builders (and related occupations) reforms” consultation paper and submission template are available at the Building and Energy website (dmirs.wa.gov.au) or by calling 1300 489 099 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media contact: BEmedia@dmirs.wa.gov.au
Building Confidence report details: Building Confidence: Improving the effectiveness of compliance and enforcement systems for the building and construction industry across Australia (February 2018) by Peter Shergold and Bronwyn Weir, commissioned by the Building Ministers’ Forum.
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