Australia’s building sector must work hard to ensure that consumers can have trust in completed buildings, a leading regulator says.
Speaking at online launch of the How We Build Now report published by construction management software company Procore, NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler said the industry needed to shift its focus toward delivering a final product in which consumers, regulators and insurers can be confident in regard to its quality of construction.
“The biggest issue that we have in construction today in my view is that we need to shift the conversation toward the trustworthiness of the completed building,” Chandler said.
“There are a lot of people talking about the pieces and parts that make up the building: design, manufacture, certification and trades. I think getting the focus of this industry to look into how we make trustworthy buildings is the key first step.
“This second piece is how we identify which players are likely to be the most trustworthy players. In New South Wales, we are looking at moving from just simply looking at individual players to play as a combination: say developer, builder and certifier – having a look at the predictability of that team to deliver a trustworthy building.
“I think that’s the biggest challenge. If we could shift the compass from looking at the individual players and the individual parts and say, ‘What are we all here for? Well, we are here to make trustworthy buildings.”
Chandler’s comments come as the NSW Department of Customer Service is seeking a technology partner to create a digital solution which will enable insurers, regulators and consumers to determine the level of trustworthiness of a particular building.
Under this system, all certificates related to a project will be pulled together into a single location. This includes certificates ranging from foundations to sprinkler heads from China, glass from Belgium or pieces of BlueScope steel.
A risk profile will be assigned to these certificates based on the trustworthiness of the party who issues them.
From there, the system will determine an overall trustworthiness profile for the building.
As well as providing greater assurance to consumers, Chandler says this will help to encourage better practice.
As insurers use the risk-weighting of the building to adjust their premiums, those against whom a less favourable rating is applied will find securing their place on project teams to be more difficult.
As things stand, Chandler says much information about building certifications sits in silos – a phenomenon which makes overall quality assessment difficult.
Others agree that there are challenges in delivering output of a consistent quality.
Sara Cecchi, business improvement manager at commercial fitout company Shape Australia, said one challenge which her firm encounters involves different regulations across different states.
In many of Shape’s projects in south-east Queensland, for example, tradespeople and subcontractors are procured from northern New South Wales.
According to Cecchi, a particular area of frustration involves different terminology across states.
An occupancy certificate, she says, is called a ‘completion certificate’, a ‘certificate of occupancy’ or a ‘Form 21’ depending on which jurisdiction you are in.