Infrastructure | Legal | Planning & Design

Raising Australian building standards – what needs to change?

10 May 2018, by Amy Sarcevic

Jurisdictions need a common language, more rigorous regulation and better oversight if they are to truly raise building standards in Australia, according to a Federal Government report by Bronwyn Weir and Peter Shergold.

At present the lack of cohesion in how construction is regulated throughout the country makes for a frustrating system, in which practitioners who operate across multiple jurisdictions face different barriers to entry and different administrative and legal requirements.

On top of that, there is currently a lack of rigor to documenting the design and construction of buildings.

Commercial pressure for architects and engineers to produce minimal levels of documentation has led to the weakening of standards of documentation throughout the construction phase, with no flow-through of information and poorly-informed decision making for end users of buildings.

This also undermines the integrity of the building approvals processes.

Bronwyn Weir, who was commissioned to produce the report last year with Professor Peter Shergold, says, “If we are not careful we are going to leave behind a legacy of below standard and unsafe buildings to our future generations.”

“Each state should have a suite of regulations and powers to enable them to audit construction projects shut down building sites if necessary”.

“We’d like to see state governments holding the hands of certifiers and working towards a more robust and coherent strategy with the involvement of local governments. The current approach of regulators shuffling complainants back and forth results in a lack of accountability across the sector”.

Bronwyn’s report, completed earlier this year, identifies 24 recommendations to governments on how to raise building standards throughout Australia, including the need for a shared ‘language’ and a central repository of building documentation.

She will outline the details of these recommendations at the 2nd Annual Australian Cladding & Building Standards Summit – to be held 25-26 June 2018 in Melbourne.

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