My morning with the WA Building Commissioner

As a gen Y-er I am delighted to announce that WA Building approvals and certification is going electronic! YAY!!!!!hallelujah

But in true WA form, we’re going to have to wait awhile to get it. Like 2 years, maybe 3. Depending on funding, possibly 4. From my perspective, whether we have to wait for this electronic roll out or not. It is feverishly exciting!

This event had a certain poetry about it...

This event had a certain poetry about it…

Lets start from the beginning though. All the information I’m about to divulge to you was collected at this morning’s (12/03/2015) March Breakfast Meetup, hosted by the Property Council of WA.  Tickets to these events go for a $150.00, if you’re serious about building a house I suggest you make these events a habit. It’s good to know what’s happening in the industry you’re about to invest $150,000 to $500,000 into.

You even get a cool breakfast! <3

You even get a cool breakfast! ❤

The reason I went was because it’s extremely exciting times in WA building, both residential and commercial. Like I’m-about-to-pee-my-pants exciting. And I wanted to know what all the fuss was about before I started peeing my pants as well.

In 2012 the WA government introduced a new and improved Building Act. Though a lot of it remained unchanged, there was one huge part that was completely ripped to shreds, stabbed a couple of times, resuscitated, then stabbed again, only to be resurrected, sliced into parts, then glued back together. Until a Frankenstein monster looking regulation that no one could quiet get or understand was finally agreed upon. And one word sums it up…

Privatisation.

Before you start thinking about Telstra, and Alinta Gas and all those messy huge corporation privatisation. This is significantly different. In this case, we’re talking about the privatisation of a process that Local Government use to control.

What process? Building Approvals…

That messy and form-intensive beginning stage of any construction process. Now the owner-builder or builder contractor can go straight to a Builder Certifier instead of the Local Council and get ‘Certificate of Design Requirements’, which when submitted to the Local Council will then issue the ‘Building Permit’, as well as receive an ‘Occupancy  Permit’ alot quicker after the home is constructed.

Not only does it minimise the bureaucracy bullshit that can come during the building approvals process, it removes the ‘gate keeper’ mentality of Local Government and replaces it with a ‘quality assurance’ lifestyle that makes everyone happy.

"Don't go for the crap stuff..." - You heard it folks!

“Don’t go for the crap stuff…” – You heard it folks!

The Builder Commissioner, Peter Gow, went on to outline the benefits and risks of such a privatisation. While the benefits are efficiency, consistency across 139 local councils and predictability between different construction methods and requirements, there’s a looming risk we all need to consider. And as the Building Commissioner put it ever so eloquently; “Don’t go for the crap stuff.”

With any privatisation, as the consumer of houses, we will need to make sure our Builder doesn’t go for the Al-cheapo when it comes to consulting a Building Certifier and getting the ‘Certificate of Design Requirements’. So don’t forget to ask your builder that question, ‘who will be certifying the design requirements of my house?’ and then research the name they give you. If you don’t like them – go with someone else! You’re the consumer, you have the right.

What’s this got to do with electronic stuff? O.M.G… everything. Privatisation of such a paper draining and time intensive process has opened the door to an electronic processing system that the Commissioner states, will cover building approvals, builder registration and plumbing notices.

From my perspective the Commissioner and his team are working hard at a more efficient and modern construction industry. Already the National Construction Codes are available FOR FREE online, an initiative launched in February 2015. Something that use to cost a person or business $400 to $500 to read. (For more information: http://www.business.gov.au/news-and-updates/News-and-features/Pages/national-construction-code-2015-now-available-free-online.aspx ) The commissioner even mentioned the possibility of smart mobile phone apps in the future. WHOA! Only eight years in the making! I guess that’s government for you… better late than never…

It's not just my grandma getting use to all this technology...

It’s not just my grandma getting use to all this technology…

Finally the Commissioner ended on a visionary statement, letting every builder, developer and local council employee in the room know that he wants to see, “a more efficient and innovative building industry in 3-4 years.” A great vision, my only question is; can the industry both government and non-government keep up with the building commissioner?

From the feel of the crowd, the information was taken well, the room settling happy on the commissioner’s presentation. The only concern raised during a panel discussion later in the morning was, why has only the design review been privatised, why not the issuing of the ‘Building Permit’ as well. Most laughed it off, some had gleaming eyes at such a possibility, others grumbled the idea into nonsense.

Personally, the issuing of building permits needs to stay under the Government’s control. If they privatised that as well, the Building Commission might be bitting off more than they can chew.

Summing everything up, how does all this affect you as a home owner looking or currently building a house?

  • Your house should be certified in design requirements within a 10 day period, if this doesn’t happen, according to law you can ask for a refund of your money. However it’s best to give the Certifiers an extension of time, unless you don’t want your house built…. then just ask for the refund.
  • You can access the National Construction Codes for free (some light bed time reading… not)
  • An appropriate database to collect information and represent the residential construction industry better. Your needs will be met more effectively by regulations passed by government.
  • Reduction in sideline delays. 10 day approvals are pretty quick.
  • Less paper work
  • If you’re a developing in different councils, there will be more consistency in the building approvals process and predictability.

So without further a-do, I’ll leave you with one more final announcement the Building Commissioner provided us on Thursday. By May 2015, Builders will be able to install vacuum toilets in a build. Yay! See I told these are exciting times!

Yay! No more flushing!

Yay! No more flushing!

Until next time!

xox Construction Chick

Xox Construction Chick

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