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Australian Building Certification in question

Robert Hart from Engineers Australia has called for a rethink on the building certification system. He said “A new high-rise apartment building in Sydney will experience a “major fire” sometime in the next two years and when it does, it will be the government that has blood on its hands for its total failure to provide a proper system of certification for the building industry.“

Mr Hart is one of the members of a specialist committee set up by Engineers Australia, the national forum for “the advancement of engineering” and the professional development of members, to report on the state of new apartment buildings in NSW, and how the system that produces them can be improved.

The report, Defect-Free Construction in NSW; How It Can Be Achieved, says that 85 per cent of strata units are defective at completion and that the NSW insurance industry has reported a post-completion additional cost in rectifying defects of 27 per cent.

“We’ve seen fire dampers not installed properly or installed at all and fire collar issues between floors,” said Mr Hart. “A major fire is going to happen, I wish I could say it won’t, but it will. There’s going to be a significant, serious problem somewhere … we can’t say where or when, but it will emerge.”

The Engineers Australia multidisciplinary report is due to be presented on Monday to former Treasury official Michael Lambert, who’s been appointed by the NSW government to review the Building Professionals Act.

The Ministers office acknowledged the concerns and said “This is why we have commissioned Michael Lambert to undertake a root-and-branch review of the certifier accreditation system under the Building Professionals Act, and the broader planning and building regulation system in NSW. The review is due to report to the NSW government later this year.”

The Master Builders Association of NSW executive director, Brian Seidler, is also concerned about the quality of residential buildings and the certification system.
“What the industry really needs is a quality assurance system that the job is being done correctly,” he says. “We’ve been calling for one regulatory body in the residential sector in NSW that would be responsible for the building industry and inspection and regulation.”

The Engineers Australia committee is holding a public seminar on Wednesday evening with more than 100 building professionals, including engineers, developers, architects, builders and project managers.

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Asia Pacific Fire, Editor