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A building surveying company and its director have been fined a total of $7,500 by the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) after certifying plans that resulted in a non-complying swimming pool barrier at a home in Iluka.
Western Australia Building Certifiers and Assessors Pty Ltd (WABCA), a registered building surveying contractor (BSC226) based in East Victoria Park, and its sole director, John Phillip Greenwood (BSP21), were also ordered to pay costs totalling $3,000.
The Tribunal found that Mr Greenwood, as WABCA’s nominated supervisor, engaged in misleading conduct1 and failed to properly manage and supervise a building service2 when he signed a certificate of design compliance (CDC) in 2016 for renovation and extension plans that included a set of doors which would open directly into an outdoor pool area.
Under WA’s building regulations3, such doors must be separately approved by the permit authority – in this case, the City of Joondalup. Mr Greenwood’s certificate did not meet this requirement and the subsequent building work embedded the error.
In 2017, a routine inspection by the City of Joondalup discovered that the unapproved doors had been installed, meaning the home’s pool barrier was non-compliant.
The SAT also found that WABCA’s systems were inadequate to ensure proper management and supervision of the building surveying work because it did not require the necessary approval.4 Mr Greenwood was fined $4,000 and the company $3,500.
The recent finding resulted from WABCA and Mr Greenwood seeking a SAT review of an April 2018 decision by the Building Services Board, which had imposed fines totalling $5,000 in relation to the same conduct.
In what is believed to be the first SAT proceeding for a building surveying disciplinary matter, the Tribunal’s decision now supersedes the Board’s earlier findings.
In its reasons published on 18 November 2018, the SAT stated that Mr Greenwood and WABCA “failed to properly understand their significant duties and obligations”, and Mr Greenwood had misled the City of Joondalup by not adequately addressing his “mistaken understanding” that the CDC could serve as a type of application for permit authority approval of the doors in question.
“A CDC cannot, as a matter of fact and law and common sense, be an application for approval,” the Tribunal stated. “A CDC is a certification that if the work [that is] the subject of the building permit application is completed in accordance with the listed plans and specifications, it will be built to the applicable standard.”
The SAT also stated: “Mr Greenwood and WABCA do not act for the client when completing a CDC… [they] act under duties imposed on them by the Building Act as a registered building surveying practitioner and building surveying contractor respectively.”
Building Commissioner Ken Bowron welcomed the Tribunal’s findings.
“The strict compliance rules for pool barriers reflect their essential role in preventing drowning tragedies, particularly for young children,” Mr Bowron said.
“Anyone participating in a regulated industry is responsible for understanding and complying with relevant laws.
“This case reinforces the obligations of registered certifiers when signing off on compliance, particularly when this authorisation potentially impacts on community safety.”
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