Thursday, 19 January 2012 14:22
Findings by the Victorian Auditor General's Office that 96% of building permits issued did not comply with minimum statutory safety and building standards has raised major questions for new home builders and renovators, Archicentre, the building and advisory service of the Australian Institute of Architects said today.
Archicentre Chief Executive, Mark Stewart said, "the findings show that people relying on building surveyor's reports to ensure their home is being built properly should clearly understand that a building surveyor's report will just cover the compliance aspects of the building, not the quality of the construction".
"The Auditor General's Office also found that a basic monitoring framework of the building surveyor's reports is yet to be established after five years which means the system itself also has insufficient quality assurance."
Mr Stewart said the findings highlighted the need for new home builders and renovators to put in place their own independent quality control system, either through appointing a qualified project manager or by organising independent quality assurance checks.
"Many people are also under the false impression that if their home is built with faults it is covered by the Home Warranty Insurance policy. Nothing can be further from the truth as the policy only applies in situations when a builder has died, disappeared or gone bankrupt".
"In every other case the home owner or renovator has recourse only through the builder or the courts, leaving them exposed to the prospect of delays, inaction and considerable expense and stress."
Mr Stewart said people building or renovating themselves need to familiarise themselves with the terms and conditions of their building contract, specifications and drawings as well as the many codes and regulations that apply and clearly understand how to monitor the quality of the building work.
"Building a home is an extremely complex project and the contract, associated plans and specifications are highly technical and complex but they are often misunderstood or overlooked in the excitement to get a project started."
Archicentre provides independent advice in legal and mediation discussions and often finds a simple error, inconsistency or misunderstanding may lead to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra costs, stress and time that may potentially escalate into a building dispute with the builder, surveyor or construction company.
"Many of these cases come at the end of the building and should have been dealt with through an independent quality assurance process which puts everyone on the same page early."
Archicentre has introduced Construction Quality Assurance Inspections by seven year trained architects to check whether building works comply with applicable quality standards. It provides a detailed report and the inspection is available for each stage of the building process. The inspections provide consumers with a recognised independent expert inspecting the progress and quality of the building project and are best done before the builder is paid.
Mr Stewart said the system can also protect the builder as having their work inspected by a qualified architect also provides a good communication channel with clients and clear expectations about the work that is being carried out.
Archicentre also recommends that people check with their State regulator to ensure that the builder is appropriately registered and also seek references from previous clients, as registration does not guarantee a quality job.
8 KEY STAGES OF A BUILDING PROJECT
STAGE 1 - Contract Review
Common contract terms and client/builder obligations explained.
STAGE 2 - Base
After concrete footings are poured, or after stumps, piers, columns, or the concrete floor has been completed.
STAGE 3 - Frame
Wall and roof frames have been completed.
STAGE 4 - Lock up
External walls are complete, windows, doors and roof coverings are fixed and the flooring has been laid.
STAGE 5 - Services (pre-lining)
Preliminary plumbing and electrical works completed, wall insulation installed.
STAGE 6 - Fix/Fit-out (pre-paint)
When all interior work is complete and the house is ready for painting.
STAGE 7 - Pre-Handover
When the house is presented for handover.
STAGE 8 - Maintenance Period Expiry
A final inspection just before the Maintenance or Defects Liability period expires (typically 3-6 months after completion).
Ron Smith, Corporate Media Communications, Archicentre - Mobile: 0417 329 201