When the ACT Minister for Planning, Mr Michael Gentleman, MLA released the discussion paper ‘Improving the ACT Building Regulatory System’ in November 2015 we wanted to help the Minister and we provided our thoughts and insights drawing on our unique experience, which is a combination of both our legal and industry background. It is an area of law that affects some of our clients and we have extensive first-hand experience in assisting our clients.
Some of our recommendations to the Minister were that the system could be strengthened by;
- Having specialist certifiers for complex buildings;
- Giving certifiers clear directions as to what is required for good design documentation;
- Clarifying the requirements of stages and/or the addition of alternate stages to suit building types;
- Introducing a compulsory professional indemnity insurance;
- Having a statutory body responsible for approving new building materials to minimise adverse impacts for stakeholders;
- Having government approved or endorsed standard form contracts;
- Developing and implementing a mandatory CPD (continuous professional development) scheme; and
- Encouraging ADR (alternative dispute resolution) while, at the same time, still ensuring fairness.
Overall, it was our recommendation that any reforms implemented recognise that the building industry is a diverse sector. Not all reforms will necessarily suit each part of that sector. What is good for the residential building sector is not necessarily appropriate for the commercial building sector, and so on. Before implementing change, we also consider that the reforms should be subjected to vigorous cost/benefit analysis.