Status of building reforms

Status as of 30 June 2020

No.CategoryReformStatusNotes
1 Design and documentation Develop guidelines for minimum design documentation for building approval applications:
  • commencing with initial design documentation, with a view to expanding to maintenance documentation at a later stage
  • expanding to all classifications of buildings over time
  • starting with voluntary compliance with a transition period for moving to mandatory within 6 months of release of the guidelines.
Complete The Building Minimum Documentation and Information for Building Approval Applications – Class 2-9 Buildings Guideline 2019 (the guideline) is adopted under the Building Act for new approval applications from 1 September 2019.
2 Design and documentation Consider including some aspects of advice on high-risk building elements (e.g. balconies over habitable spaces) in the existing pre-DA process to alert people to high-risk features and things that may be incompatible with building laws, with a view to expand the range of issues as resources and skills increase. Complete After considering the findings of audits and inspections, known issues such as weatherproofing, and noting the increasing complexity of developments, advice to inform people of building matters they may need to resolve earlier than the building approval stage is warranted.

Information on high-risk elements and the new documentation guideline will be provided before (pre-DA) and during the development approval stage from July 2019.
3 Stage Inspection and Supervision Develop guidelines for builders for supervision and critical hold points with the intention they will be adopted as codes of practice under the Building Act. Complete Guidelines for Licensed Builders that include supervision and hold points have been developed and released and will form the basis of a new code of practice to be introduced by 1 July 2021.
4 Stage Inspection and Supervision Develop new provisions in the Building Act outlining the functions of the certifier and the purpose and scope of stage inspections, and supporting codes of practice. Complete New provisions complete, see particularly new section 17A.

A new code of practice for building surveyors has been adopted and will commence on 1 September 2019.
5 Stage Inspection and Supervision Enact regulations to require stage inspection information be lodged shortly after the inspection is complete. Complete The ACT Government has enacted a regulation to require building certifiers to supply information to the Construction Occupations Registrar about houses and buildings that include residential apartments after inspections.  The information provided will support Access Canberra’s compliance, auditing and regulatory functions.
6 Licensing Remove architectural and engineering qualifications from the mandatory qualifications schedule, with a transition period for applicants who have made an application prior to the commencement. Complete  
7 Licensing Implement a conditioning system for applicants with insufficient experience on residential buildings and revise mandatory qualifications in relation to evidence, critical stages and stages external verification of experience. Complete New mandatory qualifications instrument outlines types of building works experience required by applicants. Applicant licenses are tailored to relevant experience administratively.
8 Licensing Revise mandatory qualifications to specifically give the Registrar discretion not to consider references from builders with a poor compliance history or in relation to defective work. Complete  
9 Licensing Expand the written assessment prepared for the pilot for class c licensees to incorporate additional subjects, and include random result validation, and create assessments for A and B class licensees. Complete From February 2019 new applicants for class A and B builder licences must sit and pass an exam. Exams can also be applied to existing licensees at renewal.
10 Licensing Consider interviews conducted by the regulator for applicants that either do not meet the mandatory qualifications or have marginal results in assessments only. Complete In operation under Regulation 14 of the Construction Occupations (Licensing) Regulation.
11 Licensing Amend existing provisions for corporations, partnership and nominees eligibility in the Construction Occupations (Licensing) Act and Regulation to clarify their roles and obligations. Complete Revisions made in the Building and Construction Legislation Amendment Act 2016.
12 Licensing Expand the scope of the existing power to declare mandatory qualifications to include qualifications for all entities that may apply for a licence i.e. corporations and partnerships Complete Amendment made in the Building and Construction Legislation Amendment 2016.
13 Licensing Require additional information in relation to the nominee and their understanding of their role and eligibility for appointment at the time of application. Complete Nominees will need to declare they have read and understood the new Guide for Nominees and indicate they are eligible to be a nominee. This may be checked directly with the nominee or the corporation/partnership.
14 Licensing Revise operational policies and educational materials to reflect the intention of the law in relation to the corporation/partnership’s responsibility to supervise their nominees and the work under its licence. Complete A new Guide for Nominees outlines the responsibilities of the corporation/partnership, noting the dual obligations in relation to the nominee’s supervision of the work.
15 Licensing Develop and implement a pre-application assessment for building surveyors licence applicants and for licensees who have transferred from other jurisdictions. Complete A new qualifications declaration makes completion of the assessment mandatory for all applicants for a new building surveyor licence from 1 November 2019.

The assessment can be applied as skills assessment for other licensees.
16 Licensing Develop and make available an online course for building surveyors operating or intending to operate under the ACT’s building regulatory system. Complete The online course for building surveyors is now available.
17 Licensing Provide a new ground for occupational discipline that the licensee is, or has become, ineligible to hold a licence. Complete Amendment made in the Building and Construction Legislation Amendment 2016.
18 Licensing Amend provisions for automatic suspensions on loss of eligibility so that they do not end after 3 months but continue as long as the ground for the suspension exists, if the licensee has not reported the circumstances to the Registrar. Complete Amendment made in the Building and Construction Legislation Amendment 2016.
19 Contracts for Residential Buildings and Building Work Expand the existing statutory warranties to all private residential buildings or parts of buildings, including those above three storeys. Complete Amendment made in the Building and Construction Legislation Amendment Act 2016. New warranties in effect from 19 August 2017.
20 Contracts for Residential Buildings and Building Work Amend the Building Act to allow regulations to prescribe requirements for contracts for residential building work. Complete Amendment made in the Building and Construction Legislation Amendment Act 2016.
21 Contracts for Residential Buildings and Building Work Enact a regulation to delineate agency agreements from a building contract for certain residential building work contracts. Complete The Building (General) Amendment Regulation 2019 requires that from 1 October 2019 any appointment of the builder to act as the landowner's agent to appoint the building certifier and apply for approvals must be separate to a building contract for a new house and for a range of work on existing houses and apartment buildings.
22 Contracts for Residential Buildings and Building Work Develop and consult on standard terms, and standard information for a building contract including explanations on common variation clauses and their meaning. Complete EPSDD has developed two new fact sheets for people entering into a residential building contract or purchasing off the plan, with explanations of common terms, things to look for, and rights and obligations.
23 Contracts for Residential Buildings and Building Work Consult further in relation to specific regulations for a progress payment model for certain residential building contracts based on payment only for work completed. Complete Further consultation was undertaken with bodies who supply standard contracts or represent people who draft other building contracts. This consultation is informing consideration of supporting regulations.
24 Contracts for Residential Buildings and Building Work 24. To further assist to reduce phoenixing:
  • Expand the capacity for the Registrar to consider an applicant or licensee’s history, including the history of directors, partners and nominees, under other licences.
  • Introduce the ability for the Registrar and ACAT to consider whether a breach is relevant to multiple associated licences and take appropriate action in relation to those licences as well.
  • Increase reporting requirements for automatic suspension grounds.
Complete Legislative revisions made in the Building and Construction Legislation Amendment Act 2016.
25 Project Funding - Payment - Claims and Retentions Increase reporting requirements for licensees in relation to insolvency. Complete Increased reporting requirements introduced in the Building and Construction Legislation Amendment Act 2016.
26 Project Funding - Payment - Claims and Retentions Review the response to the recent federal inquiry on insolvency and results of other trials of various models in other jurisdictions and continue targeted consultation, with a view to either conducting an ACT trial to fill in any knowledge gaps if required, or implementing changes in the ACT if Commonwealth legislation is not supported or has insufficient coverage. Complete The review found that existing trials and schemes provide suitable information on the operation of particular models for managing project payments and/or retentions.

Consultation and further work relating to security of payment will be progressed under Reform 41 – Review of the Security of Payments System in the ACT.
27 Project Funding - Payment - Claims and Retentions Review the effectiveness of ACT procurement arrangements for security of retentions held by contractors and progress payments on government projects. In progress The ACT Government is considering how we can make sure subcontractors are paid what they are owed when payments are due. To help determine the most effective way to do this, we are looking at the different arrangements used on ACT Government procured building and construction projects.This review of our own arrangements will help identify models that would be appropriate for broader adoption across industry. This work is part of broad work we are doing on security of payments (reform 41).
28 Alternative Dispute resolution – Residential Buildings Refine the proposed alternative dispute resolution model based on consultation feedback and conduct a second round of consultation. Complete The ACT Government has passed new laws, the Building and Construction Legislation Amendment Act 2020, to allow a scheme to help homeowners and the building industry resolve residential building disputes earlier and at less cost to be introduced in the ACT. The Government will consult further with the public and industry to finalise the details of the scheme.
29 Alternative Dispute Resolution - Residential Buildings Consider adoption of new standards and tolerances for building-related disputes and complaints, including contractual disputes. Complete Based on consideration of such matters as practices of other jurisdictions, types of complaints, and the role of general standards and tolerances in a regulatory and legal context, it is proposed to incorporate new standards and tolerances for items outside the scope of building work in the Building Act into the new Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) system as advisory information. There will be further consultation on which standards and tolerances will be used in ADR under Reform 28.
30 Auditing Complete implementation of the risk-based auditing and inspection system for regulated building certification and building work. Complete New tools have been developed to support the ongoing work to audit and inspect building projects.
31 Licensing Consider the introduction of a non-written assessment for building licence applicants. To take place six months after the written pre-licence assessment was introduced. Complete        The introduction of a non-written assessment for building licence applicants has been considered and will not be introduced at this time.
32 Licensing Implement mandatory qualifications for corporate and partnership licences, potentially including financial assessment. In progress Mandatory qualifications for corporate and partnership licences to be introduced following completion of further consultation to be undertaken for reform 35 and 36.
33 Licensing Expand mandatory qualifications for new building surveyor licence categories to include completion of the online training course. Complete A new qualifications declaration makes completion of the online course mandatory for new building surveyor licence applicants from 1 September 2019.
34 Licensing Expand licence renewal assessments for all licensees to include rechecking of eligibility and compliance history. Complete The new process includes criminal history checks and further confirmation of solvency status.

Compliance history for builders is checked and may lead to the builder having to sit an examination at renewal.
35 Licensing Consult on the findings of the review in relation to licensing, licensing categories and ‘contracting’ as a scope of work. Complete Consultation has identified areas for further development and broader community and industry consultation under stage 2 building reforms.
36 Licensing Consult on the findings of the review of the ACT building regulatory system in relation to insurance and practitioner accountability. Complete Consultation has identified areas for further development and broader community and industry consultation under stage 2 building reforms.
37 Contracts for Residential Buildings and Building Work Consider expansion of rectification and other relevant powers to allow orders to be issued to people closely associated with an insolvent or ‘disappeared’ corporate licence. Complete

The Government has considered the expansion of powers to people closely associated with corporate licences and has made legislative amendments through the Building and Construction Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 (link). The new provisions provide for occupational discipline and rectification orders in relation to directors, and make directors liable for overdue debts and penalties.

38 Project Funding - Payment - Claims and Retentions Review federal inquiry funding’s on insolvencies in the construction industry and associated response, with a view to fill in any gaps in the system if required. Complete The review found issues in related recommendations are being addressed under ACT reforms for construction licensing and security of payment.

Consultation and further work relating to security of payment will be progressed under Reforms 32, 35, 36 and 41.
39 Contracts for residential buildings and building work Consult on the findings of the review of the ACT building regulatory system in relation to building contracts and the residential building insurance system. Complete Consultation has identified areas for further development and broader community and industry consultation under stage 2 building reforms.
40 Project Funding - Payment - Claims and Retentions Conduct trial of project/retention account model (if agreed and required). Complete (NFA) Work under Reform 38 indicated a further ACT trial is not required.

Consultation and further work relating to security of payment will be progressed under Reform 41 – Review of the Security of Payments System in the ACT.
41 Project Funding - Payment - Claims and Retentions Review the Security of Payments system in the ACT. Complete The ACT Government has considered how we can help make sure subcontractors are paid what they are owed when payments are due.  In 2018, a national review of security of payment laws led to 86 recommendations to enhance security of payment systems across Australia. EPSDD has undertaken a review of the ACT Security of Payment System against the recommendations of the national review of security of payment laws. The Government will consult with industry on ways security of payments laws can be improved to help make the building industry fairer.
42 Other Consider issues raised by stakeholders during the consultation where supported by the findings of the review of the ACT building regulatory system. CompleteIssues raised by stakeholders during the consultation on the review of the ACT building regulatory system have been considered.  The ACT Government has been undertaking reforms to improve the ACT building regulatory system.
43 Alternative Dispute Resolution - Residential Buildings Complete implementation of alternative dispute resolution model. Complete The ACT Government has passed new laws, the Building and Construction Legislation Amendment Act 2020, to allow a scheme to help homeowners and the building industry resolve residential building disputes earlier and at less cost to be introduced in the ACT. The Government will consult further with the public and industry to finalise the details of the scheme.

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