The regulation of Western Australia’s (WA) residential building industry has changed significantly in recent years. In 2009, the Building Commission, a division of the Department of Commerce, was created to replace a number of separate and independent Boards and allow an integrated approach to regulating the building industry. In 2011, the WA Parliament passed laws that reformed the regulatory environment to better enable the Commission to monitor, audit and enforce the industry’s compliance with regulation.
I undertook this audit because of the significance of the building industry to WA’s economy, the very personal impact it has on thousands of home owners and home buyers and the substantial nature of the regulatory reforms.
The relevant statistics are impressive. The building industry carried out $14 billion in work in 2014-15 of which $8.3 billion was residential work. Thousands of residential buildings are constructed or renovated each year and 15,000 builders and building surveyors are licensed by the Building Commission to carry out this work.
The new regulatory environment reflects the serious and material nature of the industry. The Commission will license builders and building surveyors if they meet certain criteria, it can audit and monitor their compliance with the Building Code of Australia, it can accept complaints, order rectification of poor work in certain circumstances and issue fines for misconduct.
But as you will read from my report, implementation of the regulatory reforms and utilisation of the new powers provided under the 2011 laws has been slower than expected. As well, aspects of the Commission’s operations need improvement though for the most part a positive trend is evident.