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Building regulations update

• 23 May 2017 • 4 min read
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New law makes amendments to Part 8 and replaces the current powers of entry

The Building Amendment (Enforcement and Other Measures) Bill 2016 (Bill) was passed on 11 May 2017 and is awaiting assent. The Bill was amended twice before it was passed. The amendments were mostly minor although further changes have been made to the proposed new sub sections of section 16 dealing with offences for building without a building permit or contrary to the permit or Act.

As you may be aware the Bill makes amendments to Part 8 and replaces the current powers of entry. Those provisions will come into effect on a day to be announced. In the meantime, look out for our Maddocks training on these new provisions which will be released in the coming days.

Also on 18 May 2017, DELWP called for public consultation on proposed Building Regulations 2017 which will replace the current Building Regulations 2006 pursuant to the sunsetting process. A Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) on the proposed 2017 regulations has also been released. To find these documents click here. The consultation period closes on 18 July 2017. The timeline for introduction of the 2017 regulations is June 2018 and it is proposed to introduce Interim Regulations to allow for this extension.

We are currently undertaking a detailed review of the proposed 2017 regulations and the RIS but note the following:
  • mandatory notification stages for inspections relating to the construction or alterations of buildings are proposed to include three additional inspections as follows:
    • prior to covering walls which require a fire resistance level
    • wet areas
    • stormwater connections.
  • there are defined mandatory notifications stages for demolitions and swimming pool construction:
  • more information will be required on building permits including further details of and approved performance solutions
  • more information will need to be reported to the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) by the relevant building surveyor after a building permit is issued
  • the relevant building surveyor will be required to issue a notice to an owner and builder where a building permit is approaching the time that it will lapse. Prescribed forms are provided for these notices and the notices must also be sent to the VBA and councils
  • regarding essential safety measures, the content of annual reports will be the same for pre and post 1984 buildings
  • all existing swimming pool barriers will be required to have four-sided isolation fencing that complies with current standards
  • there are prescribed forms to be used when issuing notices and orders under Part 8 and the regulations expressly provide for the municipal building surveyor to rely on inspections by others when determining to issue a notice or order
  • regarding protection works:
    • at the time of deciding any application for a building permit, the relevant building surveyor will be required to issue a form determining whether protection work is or is not required. Prescribed forms are provided
    • prescribed protection works notices are revised to include a statement of the obligations on the owner regarding insurance, compensation and the like
    • the duel certification process is no longer available.

No doubt there will be many other proposed changes of interest and some things will remain the same despite proposals for change over recent years. It is important that all those who use the regulations regularly take the opportunity to review and comment on the proposed 2017 regulations and RIS by 18 July 2017.

According to the RIS, the government’s building industry reform agenda will include:

  • an evaluation strategy which will be developed commencing in mid-2017. This is intended to inform the midterm evaluation of the new regulations in 2022
  • an evidence improvement project which will take place in 2017-2018. This project will identify the baseline data needed to assess the effectiveness of the regulations and to identify required changes. This is seen as necessary as there has been a lack of data to evaluate some aspects of the current regulations. The project will establish what data is to be collected and provide for its collection so that better information is available when the next round of sunsetting comes in 2018
  • a review of council, VBA and Building Appeals Board fees in 2018-2019 with new fees to be in place by 2020, although under the proposed 2017 regulations there will be increases to most council fees.

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