Submission to Building Professionals Act 2005 Draft Report from:staff at Walgett Shire Council
Att: The review panel
RE: Submission relating to the Draft Report dated August 2015 on the Independent Review of the Building Professionals Act 2005.
Walgett Shire Council’s Planning and Regulatory staff have considered the draft report and request that the following issues be given further consideration:
- Section 12 - Reforms relating to information systems being e-technology:
It is suggested that State run centralized data base, not a portal, would be the most effective way to manage the e-technology strategies. This would allow all Council’s, Certifiers, building owners, building designers, Government Departments, etc access to the data via a ‘one stop shop’ in a standard format. A recent example of this type of system is the NSW Swimming Pool Register.
A portal will not be as effective as each organization will still have to maintain their own record systems, causing pointless duplication and wasting a significant amount of the limited resources available for building certification. A centralized data base would enable a single point of storage for all relevant information including certification documents, building manuals and fire safety statements. Different levels of access would allow building owners, designers, consultants and the general public to access information such as community notice board of developments. Furthermore automatic non-compliance letters/infringements could be generated relating to annual fire safety statements, which would generate a revenue stream for the State.
- Page 201 – point relating to ‘remove the unavoidable missed inspection process’
Removal of the unavoidable missed inspection process for remote Council’s will result in more complexity and little or no public gain. The unavoidable missed inspection process is a critical part of doing business in very remote areas such as Walgett, Brewarrina and Bourke Shire’s with very limited accredited certifiers (generally a single accredited A2 certifier covering numerous towns and villages over an area of 20,000 square kilometres or more).
The current process allows Council’s to maintain certification when staff are sick, attending training (CPD) or on short periods of leave by using unaccredited staff, thus has allowed Council certifiers the option of to write up the inspection as missed, because they are satisfied the works comply with the requirement specified under legislation. It is worth noting that to engage a certifier from a neighboring Shire or a private certifier, the travel distances could be in excess of 750kms return for a single inspection and take a whole day. Additionally, notifying the BPB of such unavoidable missed inspections for such circumstances would add another level of complexity, with little or no public gain.
- Page 203 – ‘suitably qualified and experienced persons are accredited to install, commission and certify critical building systems and elements’
This is fine in principle, but the shortage of suitably accredited persons in remote areas is likely to substantially increase building costs if such changes are implemented without regard to the actual availability of relevant people.
- Page 237 – Creation of A1R Building Certifier classification for regional areas
We supports the creation of the A1R Building Certifier classification for regional areas, however suggests that it not be over restrictive.
Attracting and retaining accredited certifiers in remote regional areas is difficult, including potential staff without qualifications for Building Surveyors roles. It is suggested that all current A2 accredited persons in remote areas have the option to be transitioned into an A1R classification if they have 3 years or more experience, and their application is supported by Council or an A1 accredited certifier.
- Page 237 - ‘A simplified accreditation system’
The concept of “a simplified accreditation system” is strongly supported, especially relating to persons entering the industry. An example of why this is required arises from Council’s current situation where it has employed an ex-trades person (carpenter) into the role of a Building Surveyor. 12 months later due to accreditation constraints, they are still not yet accredited as an A4 building inspector due to the recent introduction of a requirement for prior training (UTS short course). Special consideration must be given to remote Councils with limited budgets to encourage training of staff in the role of Building surveyor.
- Page 253 – Standard DA conditions
Standard DA conditions are supported, provided that they are not excessive or irrelevant to rural areas. For example many of the mandatory conditions and development standards imposed on complying development under the Codes SEPP are pointless in a rural context.
Senior Environmental Health and Building Surveyor
Walgett Shire Council