Queensland building regulator undergoes reforms

The development of the new commission is part of the Queensland government’s 10-point plan to reform building regulation in the state

A new Queensland Building Construction Commission will be created after legislation was passed in parliament to establish the new building regulator.

The new commission will replace the existing Queensland Building Services Authority by the beginning of 2014 and will be responsible for licensing, dispute resolution and the Home Warranty Scheme.

“This marks the beginning of the biggest change to the way the building industry is regulated in more than 20 years,” Tim Mander, Minister for Housing and Public Works, said.

“The new Queensland Building Construction Commission will strike the right balance between consumers and contractors and will help build confidence in the industry, whether that’s the confidence to build a new home or the confidence to start or grow a business or pursue a career in the industry.”

The development of the new commission is part of the Queensland government’s 10 point plan to reform building regulation in the state. The action plan was announced in May this year in response to 41 recommendations handed down by a parliamentary inquiry last year.

Recommendations included the creation of a new statutory authority; building inspectors employed by the building authority undertake regular training and assessment on their knowledge of current building regulations, standards and codes; and an amendment to the legislation to extend the powers of the new building authority to intervene when disputes arise during a contract period.

The Queensland government’s response to the inquiry outlined several initiatives in an overhaul of the Queensland Building Services Authority, including:

• reviewing licensing and compliance arrangements for contractors
• allowing rapid dispute adjudication
• establishing mechanisms of review
• review current domestic contracts to ensure there is a balance between the interests of homeowners and builders

According to Sean Henderson from Cooper Grace Ward, the main differences between the Queensland Building Services Authority and the Queensland Building Construction Commission will be the commission will be able to determine strategies and policies.

“Whereas under the current QBSA structure, this responsibility is exercised in conjunction with the general manager,” he said.

“The establishment of the Queensland Building Construction Commission signals an important change to the structure of the building industry's regulatory framework.

“While the Act does not give rise to any immediate regulatory or compliance changes that building industry participants need to be aware of, the government has flagged that a number of significant changes may occur following the establishment of the Queensland Building Construction Commission board.

“Organisations in the building industry are urged to keep track of those changes to ensure future compliance with building laws and regulations.”

Expressions of interest are now being sought for positions on the board of the commission, including for the role of chair and six board members. The new chair and board members will work with an appointed chair of the commission.

The board will report to the Minister for Housing and Public Works. Responsibilities will include implementing the 10-point action plan; providing advice to the Minister; and consulting with the building industry and consumers.

“These individuals will be responsible for overseeing the most significant reform of construction industry regulation in over 20 years,” Mr Mander said.

“The new Queensland Building Construction Commission will need to strike the right balance between consumers and contractors and help build confidence in the industry.”