Joint call for bolder reform of construction process to better protect consumers

Joint call for bolder reform of construction process to better protect consumers

The Australian Institute of Architects and the Owners Corporation Network (OCN), the representative body for unit owners, have jointly called for bolder reforms to improve the quality of construction and better protect consumers.

While welcoming proposals put forward in the NSW Government’s Building Stronger Foundations discussion paper, such as introducing a new building practitioners registration scheme, a duty of care and appointing a Building Commissioner, they said the proposed reforms needed to go further.

The Institute and the OCN maintain that independent quality assurance checks by appropriately certified and qualified professionals must be embedded in the construction process to fill the gap between the proposed ‘declarations’ at the planning and construction completion stages.

‘Relying on declarations at the start and finish of what can be extremely complex construction processes is not enough to materially enhance quality, safety or consumer protection,’ the Institute’s NSW Chapter President Kathlyn Loseby said.

‘For large and complex projects, this oversight and quality assurance function needs to occur continuously throughout the design and construction stages, such as could be achieved through the appointment of a site architect and clerk of works, as has operated effectively in the past.’

OCN Director and spokesperson Stephen Goddard said there was insufficient accountability and independent checks throughout the construction supply chain, as the Mascot Towers evacuation a month ago had highlighted once again.

‘In order to protect consumers we need reforms that will help prevent, from the outset of the building process all the way through to completion, the types of issues that we are seeing arise when quality is forsaken,’ he said.

‘It is not fair that owners should have to face the ongoing financial burden of poor quality construction, which should never have been allowed to happen in the first place.

‘We share the view of the Institute that every building practitioner along the construction chain should be accountable for their work, and an appropriate quality standard should be enforced.’

During the public consultation period, which closes on 24 July, the Institute is seeking to secure support from across industry for an increased scope of reform.

‘This reform process offers a unique opportunity for the NSW Government, with the support of industry, to achieve lasting change in the best interests of consumers by reinstating quality and safety as the dominant considerations in construction above time and cost,’ Ms Loseby said.