From 1 January 2011, WA has adopted one of the biggest reforms in building control legislation our State has seen in 50 years. The establishment of the Building Commission in WA marked the end of the Builders’ Registration Board and the Painters’ Registration Board and provides a one-stop shop for the regulation of the building industry and service providers.
The new Building Act for WA enables private certification by a private building surveyor and is expected to streamline the building approval process. Local authorities will continue to issue building permits and enforce building legislative requirements, but as a prospective new home owner you can now choose to use the services of a Private Building Surveyor.
Private certification enables an independent building surveyor to check the design for compliance with the Building Code of Australia and other relevant legislation and provide a certificate of design compliance for submission to the permit authority. However, you may continue to submit an uncertified application that will then be assessed by the permit authority.
The building permit will be issued to the building owner, and a copy to the nominated builder. This puts a greater onus on building owners to be involved and understand what is happening on their building site. Owners should make sure any required inspections are carried out and that works follow the approval granted. Substantial fines have also been introduced for people that do not meet the requirements of their permit, or commence building work without one, so it is important to get the right advice before you decide to do any building work in and around your home.
There are big changes for people wanting to build as owner-builders.Previously the only prerequisite of being an owner-builder was that you could not have built a home 6 years prior to the date of the new application. Nowowner-buildersmust obtain approval to be named as the builder on a building permit. Owners must demonstrate they have sufficient knowledge of their duties and responsibilities as a builder before approval is granted. One way of doing this will be to complete an approved owner-builder course.
The Building Disputes Tribunal has been replaced with a new process of resolving disputes that may arise between owners and builders or contractors. Complaints are now lodged with the new Building Commission that will investigate and assist in the resolution of the complaint. If the complaint cannot be resolved, it is referred to the State Administrative Tribunal.
Builders, building surveyors, and some trades people like painters and plumbers must be registered building practitioners. Make sure you are working with a registered building practitioner.
Find out more on the WA Building Commission website www.buildingcommission.wa.gov.au.