“Let’s Get What We Paid For” – Call for Better NCC Enforcement

In BICSI Blog, BICSI Bytes, Featured, News by info@bicsi.com.au

The Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) recently called on government to make urgent changes to the way building compliance in Australia is enforced.

“It’s an open secret that Australians are being ripped off by poor enforcement of the National Construction Code (NCC)”, said a press release issued by ABSEC. “Poor enforcement of the NCC – which sets minimum standards for safety, health, comfort and energy use – has resulted in consumers missing out on the safe, functional buildings they paid for.”

The 2018 ‘Building Confidence’ report by Professor Peter Shergold and Bronwyn Weir, commissioned by Australia’s Building Ministers’ Forum, found major issues with the enforcement of the NCC and made 22 recommendations to address the issues.

“Australians building or renovating properties need to get what the regulations say they are entitled to – a safe property with minimum standards for energy performance,” said ASBEC executive director Suzanne Toumbourou. “Failure to ensure compliance with these standards risks leaving them with buildings that lack the comfort and health that the NCC’s energy performance standards help to deliver. Commercial property occupants risk incurring huge energy expenses if the Code is not enforced, affecting the bottom-line at a time when many businesses are under threat.”

Some of Shergold and Weir’s 2018 recommendations included:

  • registration of building practitioners;
  • consistent requirements for registration;
  • continuing professional development;
  • improving collaboration between regulators;
  • effective regulatory powers;
  • strategy for the proactive regulation of commercial buildings;
  • collaboration with fire authorities in the development of fire safety design;
  • collection and sharing of data and intelligence;
  • responsibility of design practitioners;
  • adequate documentation for performance solutions;
  • approval of performance solutions for constructed building work;
  • mandatory inspections;
  • building product safety; and
  • better terminology literacy, implementation of the recommendations and implementation plans.

Advocating adoption of the Shergold-Weir recommendations, Nicholas Burt, chair of ASBEC’s Compliance Working Group and CEO of the Facility Management Association of Australia said: “It’s up to our state and territory governments to make sure the rules are followed and buildings are compliant with the Code.

“ASBEC supports the recommendations in ‘Building Confidence’. We have worked collaboratively with industry leaders to compile crucial policy responses to ensure Australians get the buildings they pay for in terms of health, comfort and energy efficiency.”

ASBEC’s policy responses seek to deliver:

  • key competencies and accreditation for building professionals who undertake energy efficiency assessments
  • a nationally consistent system of regulatory oversight to ensure energy efficiency standards are met
  • building documentation and permits that ensure energy and sustainability provisions in the NCC are properly met, and
  • a building log book or electric building passport that can be audited and passed on to subsequent owners to ensure buildings are compliant throughout their life-cycle.