WA – HENDRY building surveyors advise that Western Australia’s building legislation contains provisions that allow for an authority (State Administrative Tribunal) to vary particular requirements of the regulations and the Building Code of Australia (BCA) in the case of existing building upgrades. The building appeals, and modifications process can be a lengthy procedure, and the quality of submission and the expert advice portrayed within an application, together with the reasoning presented, can influence the end result.

The methods adopted by legislation include powers initally conferred on Local Council, and the establishment of the State Administrative Tribunal to hear building appeals and the lodgement of objections to a provision that a Council has made, to make performance based decisions by qualified practitioners.

The State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) was established to hear and review applications from parties who disagree with Local government building controls decisions under Part XV of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1960.

Most of the building appeals applications involve orders from a local government to remove or alter a structure (Section 401). However, reviews can be brought under another 20 sections of the Act as well as Section 26 of the Strata Titles Act 1985.

Sections 21 & 22 of the State Administrative Tribunal Act 2004 outline the requirements for local governments to produce written reasons for their original decisions. These requirements are summarised in Respondents’ Role.

In dealing with similar applications over a number of years, the Minister for Local Government and the Minister for Housing and Works found that matters could often be resolved amicably through discussion between the parties. The State Administrative Tribunal will try to facilitate a similar outcome wherever possible.

Therefore, after receiving an application for review, in most cases the State Administrative Tribunal will send letters to the applicant and the local government, and the local government will be asked to attempt to resolve the matter by agreement. If an agreement is reached, no further involvement by the State Administrative Tribunal may be necessary, or consent orders may be made by the State Administrative Tribunal .

If agreement is not possible, the State Administrative Tribunal may deal with the matter by listing it for a directions hearing, where the parties will be required to attend and the future conduct of the matter will be decided; or considering the matter on the papers, with no appearances required.

The State Administrative Tribunal’s objective is to resolve questions according to the substantial merits of the case. The State Administrative Tribunal will act speedily and with as little formality and technicality as practicable, while minimising costs.

Building owners, tenants, architects, builders and designers may need professional assistance with the appeals process where an alternative solution to the deemed to satisfy provisions of the Building Code of Australia (BCA), or regulations, has a basis for its acceptance.