Victorian Building Interim Regulations 2017 Repealed
This weekend, the Victorian Building Interim Regulations 2017 were repealed. In its stead, new Building Regulations 2018 have been legislated. The new regulations include several changes affecting all Victorian registered building practitioners, the industry within which they operate, and those in the community who intend to undertake building work. These regulations will be law for the next 10 years.
Recently, the building and construction industry has been under fire over the combustible cladding audits, which has driven the demand for change in regulations. Here at Hendry, we welcome these changes as we endeavour to create safer buildings and communities for all.
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How the Building Regulations 2018 affect building surveying
When looking at construction sites around Victoria, you may have previously focused on the footings frame. However, with the new regulations in place, there are additional considerations regarding waterproofing and fire-resisting construction.
Now, when inspecting construction phases as part of a building permit process, there are mandatory inspection phases for lightweight multi-story residential and healthcare sites, fire-resisting plaster walls and sound insulation. Similarly, fire-resisting service penetrations are now part of the mandatory inspection process. As a result, you can now be more assured that fire-resisting construction is being installed compliantly during a fit-out.
There have previously been issues with permits lapsing. However, the new regulations stipulate that building surveyors must give ample notice of lapsing building permits.
How the Building Regulations 2018 affect ESM
There have been significant changes where essential safety measures (ESM) is concerned. For example, in Part 15 of the Building Regulations 2018 (BR2018), ESM now appears with an increased responsibility placed on building owners. This means owners now take on more responsibilities. For instance, building owners must sign annual essential safety measures reports (AESMR).
The BR2018 legislate that vacant buildings must continue to be maintained, including ESM, with no exceptions. This is now a mandatory requirement.
Building surveyors can issue a maintenance schedule. This is essentially a list of ESMs in the building. Formerly, owners had a loophole to avoid some ESM maintenance requirements. However, this loophole is now closed through mandatory requirements to create a maintenance schedule.
Effective ESM building construction
The relevant building surveyor (RBS) must now update a maintenance schedule for an existing building or place in certain circumstances. For example, the RBS must do this when they amend an occupancy permit or issue a maintenance determination as part of the certificate of final inspection. The determination must comply with new Regulation 220, and the owner must provide all relevant records to assist the RBS to prepare it.
An occupancy permit versus a certificate of final inspection
An occupancy permit is a document that indicates that the building surveyor deems the building fit for occupation. The permit is needed in 3 different scenarios:
- When constructing a new building
- When a building is undergoing major alterations and more than 50% of the building is changed
- When the building is undergoing a change of use and the classification has changed
In contrast, the Certificate of Final Inspection (CFI) is required when assessable but minor building work is done.
Previously, the agent or building owner could sign the AESMR. However, the new changes require the AESMR to be signed by the owner. An agent of the owner can no longer be authorised to undertake this task. This factor could go unnoticed, but it has a significant impact and owners must be aware of this.
In other changes regarding AESMR, previous reports must be kept for 10 years. The council has the right to order copies from you within those 10 years. It isn’t mandated in Victoria to send the council the report after completing it. In the case of investigation by the council, they will ask for the AESMR first.
Key points to be considered
The occupancy permit should be checked for unfamiliar ESM items. For example, clearing out drainage every 3 months must be aligned with the fire engineering reports or specific traffic hazard management procedures and controls.
When using AS1851-2012, full function fire tests are mandatory. Emergency planning and evacuation procedures are also now part of full function fire tests, so they should be completed in an integrated manner.
Infringement notices and penalties for incorrectly maintaining an ESM are now doubled. In addition, on-the-spot fines are allowable. A $320 fine for a building and $720 for a facility per ESM. Areas in which you can receive an on-the-spot fine, include:
- Failure to provide the relevant building surveyor with the appropriate documentation to create the maintenance schedule
- Not submitting information within 24 hours of a request from the council
Learn how you may be affected
For further information on the regulatory changes or to discuss how these changes could affect you directly, please get in touch with our Building Surveying Team.Discover More