Local Government Building Approvals

Audit focus and scope

The audit objective was to determine if local government (LG) entities effectively regulate residential building permits (permits). 

The specific lines of inquiry were:

  • Do LG entities adequately assess permit applications?
  • Do LG entities effectively monitor and enforce compliance with permits?

The following 4 LG entities were included in the audit:

  • City of Albany (Albany)
  • City of Gosnells (Gosnells)
  • City of Joondalup (Joondalup)
  • City of Mandurah (Mandurah).

The audit also included the Building and Energy Division (B&E) within the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety. We spoke with key staff who deal with coordination, compliance, complaints, the Building Permit Database and policy matters.

The audit focussed on the regulation of permits for new houses and major renovations requiring LG entity approval. We did not review approvals for planning, demolitions and commercial buildings or other building activities like patios, retaining walls and swimming pools. The audit did not assess how builders inspect the quality of their own work.

We audited permit approvals, monitoring and enforcement of compliance with the permits for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 financial years. At each LG entity, we tested 25 permit applications and at least 10 complaints. We also reviewed and assessed:

  • policies and procedures for permit approvals, monitoring, complaints and enforcement, and declarations of conflict of interest and gifts
  • the timeliness of approving permits against legislated 10 and 25 day timeframes
  • monitoring and inspection activities
  • enforcement actions
  • complaints management.

We also consulted with a range of stakeholders including:

  • Master Builders Association
  • Housing Industry Association
  • WA Local Government Association
  • LG Professionals WA
  • Building surveyors
  • 2 building companies that operate across a number of LG entities in WA.

This performance audit was conducted under section 18 of the Auditor General Act 2006 and in accordance with Australian Standard on Assurance Engagements ASAE 3500 Performance Engagements. We complied with the independence and other relevant ethical requirements related to assurance engagements. Performance audits primarily focus on the effective management of state and local government programs and activities. The approximate cost of undertaking the audit and reporting was $340,000.




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