QLD – HENDRY building certifiers highlight the statutory responsibility of persons involved in minor fitouts in a building.  Owners, occupiers, developers and builders are all accounted for in the extensive framework of Queensland building legislation such as the Building Act 1975, Building Regulations 2006 and the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service.  Even minor tenancy changes or small budget fit-outs (building work) can cause a building to become non-compliant.  With the increasing activity of government regulators the chance of non-compliance may not be worth the risk.

Where non-compliances commonly arise
Minor fit-outs and refurbishments are quite often undertaken without consideration or knowledge of the existing building approval conditions or current Code restrictions for building work. Small adjustments to floor layouts and materials can cause non-compliances to travel distances, fire indices and fire safety systems.  Shop tenancy fit-outs in buildings over 500m2 need to consider the building as a whole, not just the tenancy fit-out.  The Building Regulation 2006 allows for “minor alterations” without the need for a development permit however it’s scope is very restrictive.  Compliance with existing approval conditions and current Building Code of Australia (BCA) and the Queensland Development Code (QDC) requirements need to be assessed. Any alteration to detectors or sounders will normally require building approval as well as the involvement of the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service (QFRS).

Tenancy Changes can often bring with them a change in the nature and quantity of materials stored or displayed.  This can impact on the restrictions inherited with the buildings Certificate of Classification that will reflect the intended use of the building.  A change to the nature or quantity of materials stored or displayed may trigger a change in the buildings classification as identified in Section 109 of the Building Act 1975.  Table E1.5 of volume 1 of the BCA outlines restrictions on storage of combustible materials such as carpets, clothing, furniture, electrical appliances and all materials having wrappings or preformed containers of foam plastics.
The prominent building legislation
Building legislation in Queensland, like most States, is becoming more complex and very onerous.  There is extensive legislation and subordinate legislation linked to the term “building work”.  This may be related to the approval of building work or the undertaking of building work.  The head of power and clout factor for most building projects (once planning issues are put to rest) is the Building Act 1975 (adopts the Building Code of Australia) and Queensland Building Services Authority Act 1991.(QBSA Act).

Owners and Occupiers are predominately held accountable by the Building Act 1975 for non-compliant buildings. Section 115 of the Building Act 1975 nominates a maximum penalty of 165 penalty units for the occupation of a building that does not comply with the relevant provisions of the BCA and/or the Queensland Development Code (Building Notices).  Relevant provisions relate to the legislative requirements for previous or current approvals (if any exist).

Builders and Developers and even facility managers may be targeted by the QBSA Act under the definition of “building work”. Section 72 of the QBSA Act empowers the Authority to direct a person to rectify defective building work and comply with the BCA.  For the purpose of the QBSA legislation “building work” is considered to be most building work of a total value of $1100 or more.  If the building work requires an occupational license such as plumbing or fire protection works than the legislation cuts in at a zero dollar value. Schedule 2 of the QBSA Act 1991 identifies the following as the definition of “Building work”:

building work means—
(b) the renovation, alteration, extension, improvement or
repair of a building; or
(c) the provision of lighting, heating, ventilation,
airconditioning, water supply, sewerage or drainage in
connection with a building; or
(f) the preparation of plans or specifications for the
performance of building work; or
(fa) contract administration carried out by a person in
relation to the construction of a building designed by the
person;

Reducing the risk of non-compliance
The simple solution to reducing the risk of non-compliance for any building work (minor fit-outs) or tenancy changes is to speak to one of the qualified and experienced HENDRY Building Surveyor’s at our Brisbane Office.