The Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) has called for urgent action to address the problems facing the construction industry nationwide.
In response to an ABC investigation into defects in the construction sector, AIA national president professor Helen Lochhead says there should be greater accountability and more regulation in the industry. Only by committing to safety and quality, and putting the consumer first can stakeholders help restore confidence and ensure the ongoing integrity of Australia’s construction industry.
According to Lochhead, solutions that address the serious issues covered in ABC 7.30’s three-part series need to be urgently implemented in a consistent, nationwide manner, particularly in the multi-residential sector.
“For years now the Institute has been at the forefront of calls for all governments to take action and urgently improve how the building construction in this country is regulated," she says.
“When it comes to the lives and livelihoods of Australians, this is a case where we need more and better regulation. Quality outcomes will not occur and the consumer will not be protected, if time and cost continue to be the prime drivers in the construction industry.
“There must be increased accountability and that’s why the Institute wants to see a nationwide requirement for the registration of all building practitioners, in the same way architects are.”
Lochhead explains that the Institute has been calling for the reinstatement of a Clerk of Works because large projects need independent eyes onsite throughout construction. These projects also need to be supported by more complete documentation and procurement models that deliver better outcomes for consumers in terms of their physical and financial security.
However, several reputable builders already have their own checks and balances in place and are delivering high quality apartments to the market. Therefore, consumers still have access to new building stock in which they can have confidence despite trust issues, Lochhead says.
Victorian chapter president Amy Muir has called for more reforms to prevent recurrence of flammable cladding problems in buildings in the future.
“We have recently completed a significant body of work looking into the impact novation is having as an increasingly prevalent contracting method for procuring buildings," she says.
“Novation occurs when an architect’s contractual rights and obligations to the clients are transferred to the building contractor, as is generally the case in design and construct contracts. Severing that direct relationship with the client and making all other building practitioners subordinate to the building contractor can lead to negative outcomes.”
According to Muir, a better legislated novation code is needed if the industry is serious about putting people first, protecting consumers and ensuring the homes of the future are built for safety and quality.