Archive for the ‘Building Act 1993’ Category

For a building permit what is the difference between “suitable to occupy” and compliance?

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

Does the pine tree on top mean it's finished? (Image courtesy of Image Shack)

FSC have recently been working on a state government project where we found some research that indicated that consumers for building work may not understand the difference between “suitable to occupy” and compliance. There is an important difference.

One of the problems is that “suitability to occupy” is not defined. So a building surveyor might not be able to tell you what it means either, but they will still be merrily issuing Occupancy Permits. The Building Commission in Victoria has issued a practice note to assist building surveyors to evaluate when they can issue an Occupancy Permit (or a Certificate of Final Inspection).

Practice Note 2006-24 says  that Occupancy needs to be evaluated with regard to one of the key objectives under the Building Act 1993:
“to protect the safety and health of people who use those buildings and to enhance the amenity of buildings”.
The Practice Note says “Any required item that can affect people’s safety and habitability must be in place and fully operational.” There is a list of these provided below for houses. Here is a key distinction:
“An occupancy permit is not evidence that the building complies with the provisions of the Act and Building Regulations 2006.”

It’s this fundamental distinction that brings us back to our topic. A building may be habitable without the works being fully compliant or complete. You can legally move into a home with an Occupancy Permit without the works being complete. A further distinction needs to be drawn now between what compliant and complete means when:
  • under the Building Act 1993 (the Act) and Building Regulations 2006 (the Regulations); and
  • under the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995 (DBCA).

The Act is about minimum standards for compliance, whereas the DBCA regulates the rights and responsibilities consumers (usually owners of land) and builders under a contract for those works. Under the Act to be compliant and complete and for a building surveyor to approve the final inspection, the works must comply with the Act, the Regulations and the referenced Australian Standards. Under the DBCA for the contract to be complete the works must be in accordance with the drawings and specifications for the contract and an Occupancy Permit (or Certificate of Final Inspection) must be issued.

Here’s the list of items for a home to be considered suitable to occupy:


Does a building permit mean you get what you paid for under your building contract?

Sunday, February 20th, 2011