Building regulation has been in the headlines again this week, but not for the right reasons.
Wednesday 1 May was due to be the commencement date for the 2019 version of the National Construction Code (NCC) ... and it was in every State and Territory, except for the ACT.
The NCC is not only the most important piece of building regulation in the country because it sets out the building standards by which all buildings must meet, but it represents a very rare example of a nationally consistent law, which for the most part is agreed by the Federal government (represented by the Australian Building Codes Board), the 8 States and Territories, and the building industry. Until this three-year cycle of the NCC, these same stakeholders had even agreed on a commencement date.
With the 2019 NCC, the ACT Government initially supported this approach, and then with 24 hours notice and no consultation with industry, informed the MBA (but not license holders) of a delay until 1 September. Within a few days a decision was made to bring forward part of NCC until 1 June, with the remainder delayed until 1 September.
What a debacle!
To be clear, the ACT Government has now informed all license holders the following:
The ACT Government has announced that, following further industry consultation, the majority of the 2019 National Construction Code (Building Code of Australia and Plumbing Code of Australia) will now be adopted on 1 June instead of 1 September. New provisions for fire sprinklers in class 2-3 buildings, and condensation management will continue to be adopted from 1 September.
For provisions adopted on 1 June, there will be a transition until 1 September, where people can demonstrate compliance with either the 2016 or 2019 version of the standards.
Approvals issued from 1 September 2019 can be assessed against the 2019 NCC only.
Last week’s experience demonstrates two issues. Firstly, the ACT Government’s engagement with the business community, and the Government’s understanding of the impact of its decisions on local businesses, is poor, or in this latest example was non-existent. Secondly, the ACT still has a lot of work to do to get our building regulatory system to an acceptable standard, and even more work for it to be considered best-practice.
Despite all of this, the MBA remains committed to working with all parts of the ACT Government to improve the regulatory environment for our members. We look forward to bringing you some more positive news as our engagement with Government continues and hopefully improves in the future.