WA – HENDRY Building Surveyors advise that a Department of Housing and Works Building Note regarding the acceptance of Building Code of Australia (BCA)  Alternative Solutions that have not been assessed, nor approved by the relevant local government, is a must read. The Department states that the Builders’ Registration Board, when it has investigated claims of faulty and/or non-compliant building work via the Building Disputes Tribunal has found that some builders have submitted, as a defence, a report from an engineer or independent expert stating that the building work complies with the Performance Requirements of the BCA as an Alternative Solution.

However, the local government may not have had the opportunity to assess or approve the BCA Alternative Solution that is presented.

This is in breach of the Building Regulations 1989 and section 374(5) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1960 which requires that prior to the commencement of any work, a builder shall submit an application to the local government for assessment against the requirements of the Building Code of Australia. The issue of a Building Licence (and approved plans) by local government prohibits the builder from departing from the approved plans without the prior written approval of the building surveyor, including a BCA Alternative Solution.

HENDRY always advises its clients to ensure that the relevant local government must approve any departure from approved plans and specifications prior to adopting a BCA Alternative Solution. In most instances we actually liaise with officers of the relevant local government to facilitate such approvals.

The BCA, at clause A0.5 ‘Meeting the Performance Requirements’, requires that compliance with the Performance Requirements can only be achieved by complying with the Deemed-to-Satisfy provisions or formulating an Alternative Solution which complies with the Performance Requirements or is shown to be at least equivalent to the Deemed-to-Satisfy provisions or a combination of both aspects.

The BCA states that Assessment Methods must be followed in developing any Alternative Solution to determine that a Building Solution complies with the Performance Requirements.

BCA Alternative Solutions assessment methods include:

  1. Evidence to support that the use of a material, form of construction or design meets a Performance Requirement or a Deemed-to-Satisfy Provision; and/or
  2. Verification Methods such as the Verification Methods in the BCA or others that the local government accepts; and/or
  3. Comparison with the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions; and/or
  4. Expert Judgement.

In order to comply with all Sections of the BCA it is necessary to adhere to the following method when determining whether an Alternative Solution meets all the relevant BCA Performance Requirements by:

  1. Identifying the relevant Deemed-to-Satisfy provisions of each BCA Section or Part that is to be the subject of the Alternative Solution; and
  2. Identifying the Performance Requirements from the same BCA Sections or Parts that are relevant to the identified Deemed-to-Satisfy provisions; and
  3. Identifying Performance Requirements from other BCA Sections and Parts that are relevant to any aspects of the BCA Alternative Solution proposed or that are affected by the application of the Deemed-to-Satisfy provisions that are the subject of the BCA Alternative Solution.

Where many BCA Alternative Solutions fail is in not ensuring that associated Deemed-to-Satisfy and Performance provisions throughout the BCA are also considered where a proposal might impact upon it.