Why building reform must go further

In a paper submitted as a response to the NSW Government’s ‘Building Stronger Foundations’ discussion, the Australian Institute of Architects have recommended a fundamental overhaul of building regulation.

The institute recommends improving compliance, accountability and better protection for consumers.


They have put forward 25 recommendations addressing the full building design and delivery process, proposing solutions to stop the compromise of quality resulting in poor safety and economic outcomes for consumers.

The gaps that the Institute has identified include:

  • Bringing developers into the regulatory regime, with a statutory duty of compliance and ongoing duty of care to subsequent owners
  • Enhancing the quality and thoroughness of documentation required to adequately cover safety and compliance risks before building work commences
  • Introducing a statutory requirement that apartment buildings be built in accordance with detailed documentation, ensuring alignment between the as-designed building and the as-built building
  • Introducing a holistic, independent inspection and certification regime to provide independent oversight of construction techniques and oversight of adherence to codes, standards and council approvals through an on-site independent inspection regime that includes a clerk of works and an on-site architect
  • Graduating the regulatory system to direct stronger regulation to higher risk areas such as complex multi-storey buildings.

NSW Chapter President, Kathlyn Loseby, said the Institute had consistently supported government proposals. She says, “Currently, anyone in Australia can procure and construct an apartment building. No evidence of any education, of any experience, of any suitability or capacity, or of insurances held is required. This is completely unacceptable and must urgently change.”

The Institute’s recommendations note that most of the defects found to date are in the multi-residential sector, where there are multiple small owners. Ms. Loseby notes that we are in a culture now that prioritises time and cost-saving over quality. She says, “As architects we have a duty of care to the entire community, something that is explicitly acknowledged in the Institute’s code of conduct.”

She adds, “An immediate response is needed to rectify buildings with defects, including flammable cladding, for the safety of all people.”


Story courtesy of the Australian Institute of Architects.

Images via Unsplash.

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