At no time since the introduction of certification some 10 years ago has our industry faced a greater challenge then the one that we face today.
We have ridden the challenge of pioneering a new profession, experienced the difficulties of interpreting and implementing amendments to poorly written legislation, withstood the scrutiny of competitors in Government and finally and by no means least we have addressed the demanding expectations of the communities that we serve.
Over the years we have sought a level playing field from the relevant authorities in relation to matters relating to competitive neutrality, insurance, development consent conditions and consistency in the treatment of Certifiers.
Today we face the greatest challenge in our time as we deal with the increasing demands of those that we encounter in our daily activities. Not only are we required to deal with the competing expectations of Governments, Owners, Builders and other professionals we are now required to deal with the changing expectations of the Courts and Administrators.
Recent decisions in the Administrative Decisions Tribunal (ADT) and the direction taken by Building Professionals Board (BPB) have altered the boundaries of how certification will now operate in New South Wales from that which has commonly been held by practising Certifiers and the majority of those that work in industry.
Both the Tribunal and the Board have made it very clear that the role of a Certifier is one that is significantly different and the responsibilities that had been traditionally undertaken by building surveyors employed in Local Government have changed.
Historically it was recognised that no one individual can know everything about the building industry and therefore be solely responsible for ensuring that a building complies with all aspects of the Building Code of Australia and the related Australian Standards.
However, these recent decisions have placed a serious cloud over the legitimacy of Certifiers, both private and local Government, decision to accept certificates from a third party for the installation of building components such as fire safety installations, electrical systems, waterproofing membranes, plumbing and drainage, and termite barriers and the like. In addition to this, the acceptance of certificates from suitably qualified professionals such as structural and hydraulic engineers must now be seriously questioned.
The implications of this decision on Certifiers employed in both Local Government and the private sector are the most serious threat yet to the validity of our profession and the viability of the building industry overall.
All professionals involved in the certification of buildings and building components are threatened by the impacts of this recent turn of events. Not only do these decisions place an unnecessary burden of risk on certifiers they could lead to a decision to make the industry uninsurable and at the very least it will change the way that Certifiers interact with Builders, Architects and Owners.
It would appear that overnight the role of the Certifier has changed to include that of the Builder, Owner and Project Manager with total responsibility for all actions and activities undertaken in relation to the construction of a building.
The cost of certifying buildings to the industry and the risk projected on to those responsible for fulfilling the role of Certifier has suddenly brought the validity of the certification industry into question whilst also placing increasing pressures on the affordability of buildings.
The Association Accredited Certifiers convened an important public meeting held on Wednesday 8 June where industry professionals discussed this concerning change to the building industry.
A large number of Certifiers and participants in the building industry attended and sent a clear message to both the Administrative Decisions Tribunal and the Building Professionals Board.
The Association is continuing to work with industry groups and the Government on this issue, with the aim of achieving a result that is sensible and beneficial for the industry and the community.