WA set for building laws overhaul
The Western Australian government has revealed its most significant reforms to building and construction laws in more than 10 years.
The reforms are based on 39 recommendations from the national Building Confidence Report, which had considered the need for improvement of building regulatory frameworks and construction across the country.
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According to the state government, the reforms will cover a range of requirements, including mandatory inspections of new apartment and commercial buildings at “critical stages” of construction, improved enforcement powers for the Building Commissioner and Building Services Board, tiered registration for builders, and enhanced building design documentation and minimum standards.
The Building Commissioner will have greater authority to issue directions on technical matters, enter any construction site, notify permit authorities of serious non-compliant work and issue greater penalties.
The reforms will also introduce increased fine penalties, clearer processes for documentation of design changes during construction and building manuals for high-rise apartment buildings to enhance transparency and access to information post-construction.
It was stated that a consultation draft of the laws will be released at a future date, which will enable peak bodies, local governments and building professions an “opportunity to understand the changes and have their say on technical details”.
An action plan will also be released, setting out implementation stages and timeline, with at least 12 months’ time between each stage of implementation.
All in all, the government is planning for the first stage of reforms to kick off in 2026 with mandatory inspections of high-rise apartment buildings, with these inspections initially focused on apartment buildings at least four storeys tall.
Weighing in on the announcement, Commerce Minister Sue Ellery said the reforms have already seen close consultation with industry, local governments and building professionals.
She stated: “The reforms will increase consumer protections, modernise the way buildings are designed, approved and constructed in WA, and provide peace of mind that our buildings are safe and constructed to the required standards.”
“The Cook government acknowledges the state’s building industry is facing several challenges caused by the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, disruptions to global trade, labour shortages and increasing inflationary pressures.
“Significant consideration has been given to ensure the reforms are implemented gradually, are well-understood by building professionals and local governments, and cause as little disruption as is practicable,” she concluded.
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