Building Ministers' Forum issues Roadmap for Building Reform

5 minute read  14.03.2019 Jeanette Barbaro, Isobel Carmody

The Building Ministers Forum has released its Implementation Plan for the 24 Shergold-Weir recommendations.

When the Building Ministers' Forum (BMF) last met on 8 February 2019, they committed to releasing a joint implementation plan identifying which of the 24 recommendations made in the Shergold-Weir Building Confidence report (the Shergold-Weir recommendations) would be implemented by each State and Territory.

The BMF has just released its Implementation Plan for the 24 Shergold-Weir recommendations. This Implementation Plan is the first real insight into the direction that building regulatory reform is likely to take in the near future at a State and Territory level as well as at a nationally coordinated level. The potential reforms will impact combustible cladding as well as building compliance generally throughout Australia.

A list of the Shergold-Weir recommendations is available

National Priorities

The BMF has prioritised six of the Shergold-Weir recommendations that it considers would benefit from a national approach. As part of this national approach, each jurisdiction will aim to adopt reforms consistent with those in place or proposed in other jurisdictions, to maximise consistency. These six priorities are aimed at the integrity of building surveyors, responsibilities of design practitioners, and registration and training requirements for building practitioners.

The six national priorities are:

1. That each jurisdiction requires the registration of the following categories of building practitioners involved in the design, construction and maintenance of buildings:

  • builder
  • site or project manager
  • building surveyor
  • building inspector
  • architect
  • engineer
  • designer/draftsperson
  • plumber
  • fire safety practitioner

2. That each jurisdiction prescribes consistent requirements for the registration of building practitioners including:

  • certificated training which includes compulsory training on the operation and use of the NCC as it applies to each category of registration;
  • additional competency and experience requirements;
  • where it is available, compulsory insurance in the form of professional indemnity and/or warranty insurance together with financial viability requirements where appropriate; and
  • evidence of practitioner integrity, based on an assessment of fit-and-proper person requirements

9. That each jurisdiction establishes minimum statutory controls to mitigate conflicts of interest and increase transparency of the engagement and responsibilities of private building surveyors

10. That each jurisdiction put in place a code of conduct for building surveyors which addresses the key matters which, if contravened, would be a ground for a disciplinary inquiry

11. That each jurisdiction provides private building surveyors with enhanced supervisory powers and mandatory reporting obligations

13. That each jurisdiction requires building approval documentation to be prepared by appropriate categories of registered practitioners, demonstrating that the proposed building complies with the National Construction Code

The BMF has also directed:

  • the Senior Officers' Group (SOG) to continue to address recommendation #21 – that the BMF agree its position on the establishment of a compulsory product certification system for high-risk building products; and
  • the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) to progress recommendation #22 – that the BMF develop a national dictionary of terminology to assist jurisdictions, industry and consumers to understand the range of terminology used to describe the same or similar terms and processes in different jurisdictions.

Each State and Territory

Pages 5 to 7 of the Implementation Plan set out a useful summary of the position of each State and Territory with respect to the Shergold-Weir recommendations, including whether a jurisdiction has implemented a recommendation (in whole or in part) and whether a State or Territory supports a recommendation.

Other than the six national priorities, and the four recommendations allocated directly to the BMF, the SOG and the ABCB, the remaining 14 Shergold-Weir recommendations are intended to be matters for each State and Territory, rather than the focus of a national approach at this time.

Of the remaining 14 recommendations:

  • no State or Territory has opposed any of these recommendations;
  • many States and Territories have already begun to implement these recommendations; and
  • in most cases, there is support, or at least in principle support, for these recommendations amongst the majority of the States and Territories.

The table below sets some particular Shergold-Weir recommendations of interest and the extent to which the States and Territories have either taken steps to implement the recommendation or have indicated support, or in principle support, for these particular recommendations of interest.

# Recommendation No. of States or Territories that have begun to implement No. of States or Territories that support or give principle support
7 Make public the audit strategy for regulatory oversight of the construction of Commercial buildings, with annual reporting on audit findings and outcomes. 5 3
8 Consistent with the International Fire Engineering Guidelines (IFEG), require developers, architects, builders, engineers and building surveyors to engage with fire authorities as part of the design process. 6 2
11 Provide private building surveyors with enhanced supervisory power and mandatory reporting obligations 5 2
12 Establish a building information database that provides a centralised source of building design and construction documentation. 4 4
13 Require building approval documentation to be prepared by appropriate categories of registered practitioners, demonstrating that the proposed building complies with the NCC. 2 5
16 Provide for a building compliance process which incorporates clear obligations for the ongoing approval of amended documentation by the appointed building surveyor throughout the project. 3 2
17 Require genuine independent third party review for specified component of designs and/or certain types of buildings. 1 5
19 Require registered fire safety practitioners to design, install and certify the fire safety systems necessary in Commercial buildings. 3 3
20 Require that there be a comprehensive building manual for Commercial buildings that should be lodged with the building owners and made available to successive purchasers of the building. 2 6