Building inspector wants to build new houses
“The government has said legislation is coming [to expand his powers]. Even if the legislation will still be in force for some time, it can be assumed that it will have a retrospective component, I say [to builders]this is time for a course correction.
“We will not tolerate it being the bricklayer or the roofer.” In effect, they hired them, they paid them, they signed the construction contract with the consumer, they are responsible for it.”
Chandler said his priorities in improving housing quality are non-compliant construction work, including moisture management, masonry and wiring, as well as unnecessary waste and poor toilet facilities at construction sites.
“There are many examples of poor roof trim, drainage problems not properly addressed, replacement building materials that do not meet Australian standards and very ordinary electrical wiring. There are many problems of non-compliance. We’ve got a lot to do,” Chandler said.
Construction Minister Anoulack Chanthivong said the state government is determined to expand the commissioner’s powers given the need to build more high-quality, affordable homes.
“We are committed to ensuring that the successes that the Commissioner and his team have achieved on multi-family housing can inspire confidence in the construction sector as a whole.
“The majority of builders want to do the right thing but it is evident that there are some bad actors in the system and that poses a huge risk for the people of NSW.”
The former coalition government appointed Chandler in 2019 to quickly restore public confidence in the apartment building after deficiencies were identified in Sydney’s Opal Tower and Mascot Towers apartment blocks. It has been given broad powers to inspect buildings, block the issuance of professional certificates to builders and order serious defects to be remedied.
The Minns government announced this month that it will honor its election promise to establish a building commission by the end of the year to oversee regulation, licensing and industry oversight.
It will introduce a building code to “consolidate and modernize many laws”.
Chanthivong said the government will consult closely with industry and stakeholders on any reforms.
Chandler said any action to expand his focus on homes would require additional resources, including more inspectors. Chandler intends to remain in his role until the building commission is established.
David Bare, chief executive of the Housing Industry Association NSW, feared additional regulations and bureaucratic changes would slow the delivery of new homes amid the housing crisis.
“We need to do as much as we can to improve the housing supply,” Bare said.
“I don’t think the problems with single-family home delivery are anywhere near as structural or as bad as with apartments. When building a house, there are many controls and considerations.”
Chanthivong said it was time to “break the myth that good regulation is a barrier to offering more housing online”.
Brian Seidler, chief executive of the Master Builders Association NSW, said it was difficult to assess the extent of the bad practice but said: “There is still a lot to be done in this area.”
“We must approach the advance into this area carefully. It would need a lot of advice and a lead time.”
“Anything that improves the outcome for the builder and the consumer – that’s what we want.
Chandler said the homes he recently inspected weren’t all bad. He praised the work of Japan-backed developer Sekisui House, whose prefab homes were put together like “a meccano set”.
“We have people out there who can demonstrate best practices and show that it’s possible.”
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