Housing Regulation – the unexpected consequences in Australia

Current affairs programs repeatedly present shows that look into defects in new and repaired housing. Many of us empathise as we have expereinced what we think are defective building work and its consequnces on the victims in terms of their wealth, their health and their families. We are surprised that with all the protections that have been introduced to ensure that when our homes and homeunits are built they are built free of defects and free of risks to our health.

What most of us are not aware of the regulation and approved insurance systems that have been developed are flawed and in many cases weighted towards the interests of the builder and the home building insurer. These changes are supported by unofficial policies of government departments with the responsibility to protect the consumer from poor industry practices.

The published policies “guide” the consumer to a accept dimensional and qualitative tolerances that are less than that recommended in Australian Standards and have been shown to provide interpretations of building regulations inconsistent with their legal meaning. Similar issues exist in the Australian Standards where for example AS2870 permits cracking in buildings due to foundation failure of up to 5mm.

Sections of the legal profession and the experts who provide expert reports to the courts and tribunals are aware of this bias and take full advantage in the interests of their building clients. As a result of both the weighting of the regulations and the skill of many advocates operating in the field the decisions of the courts and tribunals are often tainted with the bias towards the industry. Who amongst us is aware of this bias and its causes if it has not affected us? Who has found the advice that they have been given that there is little that can be done logical, fair or acceptable? Who amongst us has found themselves living in a house or apartment where there are leaks, there is mould in the ceilings, cracks in plaster and the walls……………?

This paper analyses the development of the bias and, by use of example will show the how and why present day regulation has developed a bias in favour of industry and how this bias can impact detrementally on the community both as individuals and the broader community.

Mr Peter Sarlos, Architect, Chartered Surveyor (Building), Lawyer, Australian Institute of Architects; Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors will speak at the: 5th Australian Healthy Cities: Making Cities Liveable Conference 2012 The Mercure Hotel and Conference Centre, Geelong, Victoria – 6th to the 8th of June – 2012 Secretariat Tele: (61 7) 5502 2068: http://healthycities.com.au

The Full Program – Blog – Twitter – Linkedin details available on the website

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