In 2016, my office tabled a report on the Regulation of Builders and Building Surveyors focussed on the Building Commission’s (now the Building and Energy Division within the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety) regulatory functions. This current audit recognises the important role that local government entities have to control building activities in their areas through approval of building permits, and monitoring and enforcement of compliance with those permits.
I was pleased to find that the local government entities reviewed in the audit were properly assessing permit applications against requirements in the Building Act 2011 and issuing most building permits within the legislated timeframes. The audit also identified opportunities for local government entities to strengthen their controls to reduce the risks of inappropriate permit approvals, and improve the transparency of their building control activities.
It was however disappointing to find that local government entities undertake limited monitoring and inspections of building works, and that compliance issues were not always resolved quickly. The Building Act 2011 provides local government entities with compliance and enforcement powers that can assist with ensuring buildings comply with permits and are safe, but that also act as a significant deterrent to anyone contemplating non-compliance. However, we found these powers were little used.
I note that the Building and Energy Division is considering regulatory reforms to address compliance and enforcement shortcomings identified in the 2018 Shergold Weir report Building Confidence. A key part of this work is the development of a consultation paper with options for independent inspections at key stages of building works. I will watch with interest how state and local government entities and the building industry collaborate to implement measures to protect the quality and safety of homes in WA.
I encourage all local government entities to use Appendix 2 as a guide to improve their building control functions.