Regulated Building Standards – New Construction Inspections
The regulated standards for building a new home in Western Australia are for the most part covered within the National Construction Code (Building Code of Australia), which all builders are required to comply with.
There is a hierarchy for building standards, which starts with the Act of Parliament, regulations under the Act, the National Construction Code, then the Australian Standards and additional documentation referenced by the B.C.A.
During new construction inspections, the Guide to Standards and Tolerances 2018 is commonly referenced for workmanship issues that fall outside of the Australian Standards requirements.
It is important to note though, that this is only a guide and not a regulated standard. Most builders however, recognise this advisory document and rectify the defective workmanship itemised in each report to a suitable standard.
Where there is any disagreement over defective work, the BCA or building contract takes precedence.
Our building inspection reports differ from that of our competitors, in that each itemised defect is referred back to the applicable Building code or Australian Standard requirement. The specific clause number (e.g: AS 1684 clause 7.2.4) is listed along with its specification provision.
Each building element is assessed to note any apparent deviations and defected if found to exceed the allowable minimum or maximum tolerances.
Given the Western Australian new build housing industry is largely self-regulated, the builders will generally rectify these issues without question, once they receive the new construction inspection report.
Defects categorised as Sub-standard workmanship in each report, includes all works undertaken by contractors or sub-contractors employed by the builder.
Blemishes & Variations
Defective finishes such as paintwork and render are another common complaint. When viewing blemishes and variations, they must be viewed and/or visible from a normal viewing position during new construction inspections.
A normal viewing position is defined as a distance of 1.5 m or greater and 600 mm for fixtures and appliances.
The surface inspected must have diffused light that is not parallel or glancing. This is classified as non-critical light.
It is highly advised that after final handover of the build, the owner performs regular maintenance to ensure the structure continues to perform as intended. By adopting simple landscaping techniques, owners can also reduce the risk of damage and cracking to the buildings structure.
Typically, maintenance plans include the following items to be considered: blocked gutters, faulty sprinkler systems, overflows from air-conditioners, proximity of trees to house, resealing of shower recesses, downpipes unconnected to stormwater and paving sloping towards building.
A video regarding New Construction Building Inspections can be found here.
What is Practical Completion?
As the building process draws to an end, the builder will issue you with a date & time for a Practical Completion Inspection, typically referred to as a PCI.
Depending upon the builder’s requirements, we either attend site to conduct the PCI several days prior to your meeting, or at the same time which is generally the preferred process for the site supervisors.
We conduct our assessment of the build while the supervisor carries out the site meeting with the client. This typically takes between 1 – 1.5 hours for a standard 4 x 2 home.
At the end of our inspection, a verbal assessment detailing general areas of concern is entered between the clients, site supervisor and the inspector.
A written report detailing specific areas of non-compliance and substandard workmanship issues is then emailed within 24 hours. The builder will then have 10 working days, from receiving the report to rectify the identified items.
The PCI will include an assessment of all works completed to ensure all structural and building materials have been installed within the allowable tolerances.
Blue tape will be places on all areas of concern during the inspection. This helps the supervisor to identify the defective areas and allows the relevant trades to rectify these issues.
Please note, a PCI report is not an all encompassing assessment of the property. It is highly recommended that staged inspections are conducted during the building process. Many client’s skip the structural inspections and elect for only a PCI.
Unfortunately once the build reaches completion, the structural elements are covered and it is unknown whether these items have been installed correctly.
Items assessed during a PCI
• Paintwork quality to walls, ceilings, doors, frames, external facade etc.
• Ceiling installation, cornice cracking, light fittings etc.
• Internal plastering/white set finish.
• Installation of wall & floor tiles & ensuring adequate falls to floor waste.
• Cabinetry installation.
• Doors & windows for correct installation.
• General inspection of appliances.
• Inspection of plumbing traps, taps, fittings etc.
• Identifying damage (dents, scratches, chips) throughout the build.
• Insulation installation.
• Connection of flume ducting to roof vents when applicable.
• Assessment of face brickwork.
• Assessment of roof frame.
Benefits of Staged Inspections
The staged inspections are designed to coincide with a client’s milestone payments. This gives the client confidence that each stage has been built correctly and to the appropriate building standards. We can conduct inspections at any stage of the build, however we typically recommend they are conducted at:
- Plate height (brickwork)
- Roof frame
- Practical completion (PCI)
The main benefit with these staged inspections, is that problems that may arise are easily rectified prior to the next construction stage commencing. Once the build reaches completion, it can be very difficult to rectify structural items. Many clients have property leases that are expiring and require to move into their new house ASAP. It can be a very stressful time!
Master Building Inspectors provides clients with support, guidance & independent advice during the home building process. Inspections are conducted at the main milestone stages, to provide peace of mind with having an experienced inspector assess the build.
Clients are instilled with confidence that the build is meeting National Construction Code, Australian Standards and Guide to Standards & Tolerances requirements. Build times do vary depending upon the complexity and can take anywhere from 7 months to several years to complete.
About your Master Building Inspector
Unfortunately, the building inspection industry in Perth is unregulated. Therefore, it is paramount that the building inspector assessing your build is suitably experienced and qualified.
Many companies in Perth, state that their inspectors are registered. Sadly, this is a false statement, as there is currently no such qualification.
We recommend checking your inspectors credentials, as many so call “registered building inspectors” have no building experience or qualifications and come from accounting & management backgrounds.
- All inspectors are qualified, registered builders, holding registration with the WA Building Commission.
- Fully insured. Every building inspectors holds Public liability & Professional Indemnity insurances underwritten by Lloyds of London.
- All inspectors come from trade backgrounds. They have been involved with the construction of residential & commercial builds for years!
- Every one of our inspectors has undertaken extensive training in the inspection and reporting process.