Australia has one of the best Legislation, Regulations, standards & Building Codes in the world. These standards are followed by the Commonwealth, State, and Territory Governments. Authorities in Australia oversee that these standards are strictly followed, in order to achieve and maintain, “Uniform set of technical provisions, acceptable standards of structural sufficiency, safety, health, and amenity” (CIV/DIPBC 2010).
The Building Act of 2004 regulates buildings and building related works in the Australian Capital Territory. The act deals with important concepts, exception assessments, building approvals, building commencement notices, carryout building works, completion of building works, offences, stop and demolition notices, certification of occupancy and other certificates, statutory warranties, insurance and fidelity certificates, appointment of auditors and actuaries of approved schemes, appointment of building inspectors, approval of building code and recognized standards, limitation of liability, notification and review of decisions, and other miscellaneous guidelines, such as sustainability guidelines, services of notices, recovery of cost of works carried out by inspector, evidentiary certificates, and legal liability for acts of registrar.
In addition to the above provisions under the act, there are several other legislative technical requirements that the practitioners are required to be aware of in respect of the design, construction, and performance of buildings. These are additional legislations, such as regulations, codes, and standards, which include, (1)ACT Planning and Land Authority under Construction Occupations (Licensing) Act 2004 for construction occupations,(2) ACT Planning and Land Authority under Electricity Safety Act 1971 and Gas Safety Act 2000, (3)Department of Territory and Municipal Services for environmental protection and nature conservation under Environment Protection Act 1997 and Nature Conservation Act 1980, (4) ACT Planning and Land Authority for fences and party walls under Common Boundaries Act 1981, (5) Department of Territory and Municipal Services for heritage conservation under Heritage Act 2004, (6)ACT Planning and Land Authority for land use and development control under Planning and Development Act 2007, (7) Department of Justice and Community Safety for machinery scaffolding and lifts under Machinery Act 1949, (8) Department of Justice and Community Safety for Occupational Health and Safety under Occupational Health and Safety Act 1989 and Work Safety Act 2008, (9) ACT Health for Public Health under Public Health Act 1997, (10) Department of Territory and Municipal Services for Roads and Public Places under Roads and Public Places Act 1937, (11) ACT Planning and Land Authority, Department of Justice and Land Authority, Department of Justice and Community Safety, Department of Territory and Municipal Services, and Department of Treasury for Utilities under Utilities Act 2000, (12) Department of Territory and Municipal Services for Waste under Waste Minimization Act 2001, and (13) ACT Planning and Land Authority for Water and Sewerage, under Water and Sewerage Act 2000 (CIV/DIPBC 2010).
In order to bring every other field of activity under their strict control, the government has further brought in legislation and regulations, such as Workers Compensation Act 1951, Australian Capital Territory Planning & Land Management Act 1988, National Environmental Protection Council Act 1991, Construction Occupations (Licensing) Regulation Act 2004, Dangerous Substances (General) Regulation 2004, Electricity (Greenhouse Gas Emissions) Regulation 2004, Tree Protection Act 2007, Heritage Regulation 2006, Water Resources Regulation 2007, Workers Compensation Regulation 2002, Surveyors Act 2007, Planning and Development Regulation 2008, Environmental Protection Regulation 2004, National Gas (Australian Capital Territory) Act 2009, Building (General) Regulation 2008, and Electrical Safety Regulation and Occupational Health & Safety (General) Regulation.
Similarly, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, Southern Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia have individual supplementary legislation and regulations in place to strictly oversee building and construction activities. In New South Wales, building and construction activities are controlled by Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000, and Building Code of Australia. These regulations are supplemented by other legislation and departmental policies to suit the territory’s circumstances. In Queensland, design, construction, and performance of buildings are supplemented by the building act of 1975. South Australia follows provisions of the Development Act of 1993, in addition to the other applicable laws. Tasmania follows its Building Act of 2000 in addition to the other applicable laws. The territory of Victoria has enacted Building Act 1993 and Building Regulations 2006 to supplement the other applicable laws. The local Government of Western Australia enacted Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1960 and Building Regulations 1989 to suit their local requirement in addition to the other applicable laws. Although, these territories have enacted individual legislation and regulations to suit their specific territorial circumstances, these provisions are exclusive of the Common Wealth provisions, which are followed, as a rule, by all.
Many of the additional territorial provisions are nondescript and indicative in nature. They are mainly for guidance and do not substitute the Common Wealth Provisions. For example, some of these additional provisions in respect of various territories , such as Department of Community Services, which takes care of Children’s Services under Children’s Services Regulation, Department of Lands and Office of Emergency Services, which looks after Crown Land –Construction Approval under Crown Lands Act and Crown Lands Regulation, Department of Health that governs Dining Rooms under Food Regulation, Department of Water and Energy, Work Cover Authority, and Department of Energy, and Utilities and Sustainability that look into Electrical Installations under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, Electricity Supply (General) Regulation 2001, and Electricity (Consumer Safety) Regulation, and Fire prevention in existing buildings that are administered by Department of Planning under Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000. Similarly, historic buildings, movable dwellings (in caravan parks), septic tank installation, sleeping accommodation, swimming pool fences, child care, storm water drainage, asbestos removal, accommodation-residential (guest houses, motels, and hostels), and alpine resorts are administered by various departments under respective local legislation and regulations (CIV/DIPBC 2010).
Standards Australia was instituted as a nonprofit, nongovernment association in 1922. Presently, there are about 5750 Australian Standards, developed by various technical committees consisting of approximately 8500 members. More than 20% of these standards are on building and construction. These standards specify and set criteria for building designs, materials, testing procedures, manufacture, and construction practices.
The criteria specified by Australian Standards for building construction are: Dead & Live Loads (AS 1170.1 – 1989), Wind Loads (AS 1170.2 – 1989), Snow Loads (AS 1170.3 – 1990), Earth Quake Loads (as 1170.4 – 1993), Selection and Installation of Glass in Buildings (AS 1288 – 1994), Testing Methods of Soil for Engineering Purposes (AS 1289 – SET), Kitchen ( AS 1351.1 – 1974), Interior Lighting (AS 1680), National Timber Framing (AS - 1684), Safety for Swimming Pools ( AS – 1926), Fencing for Swimming Pools (AS 1926.1 – 1993), Windows in Buildings (AS 2047 – 1999), Roof Tiles ( AS 2049 – 1992), Roof Tiles Installation ( AS 2050-1995), Demolition of Structures (AS 261 – 1991), Painting of Buildings (AS 2311-1992), Gypsum Board (AS 2588 – 1998), Gypsum Linings (AS 2589), Doors – Timber (AS 2688 – 1984), Security Screen (AS 2803), Hinges (AS 2803.1 – 1995), Sliding (AS 2803.2 – 1996), Slabs and Footings for Construction – Residential (AS 2870 – 1996), Flashings and Damp-Proof Courses (AS 2904 – 1995), Wiring Rolls (AS 3000 – 2000), National Plumping and Drainage (AS 3500), Concrete Structures (AS 3600-1994), Concrete Construction (AS 3600 – 2001), Domestic Metal Framing (AS 3623 – 1993), Termite Proofing – Detection and Prevention (AS 3660 – 1993), Masonry Structures (AS 3700 – 2001), Guide to Residential Pavements (AS 3727 – 1993), Water Proofing in Residential Buildings (AS 3740 – 1994), Smoke Alarms (AS 3786 – 1993), Guidelines for Earth Works for Residential and Commercial Developments (AS 3798 – 1996), Pre-cast and Tilt-up Concrete Elements (AS 3850), Performance Standards in Buildings (AS 3854), Ceramic Tiles (AS 3958), Building Construction in Bushfire prone Areas (AS 3959 – 1999), Wind Loads for Housing (AS 4055 – 1992), Steel Structures (AS 4100 – 1998), Sky Lights (AS 4285 – 1995), Building Inspection (AS 4349), Residential Property Inspections (AS 4349.1 – 1995), Timber Inspection for Pests (AS 4349.3), Kitchen Assemblies – Domestic (AS 4386), Kitchen Units (AS 4386.1 – 1996), Installation (AS 4382.2 – 1996), Domestic Solar Water Heating System (AS 4455), and Domestic Garage Doors (AS 4505 – 1998) (CIV/DIPBC 2010).
The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) is the authorized body to prepare the Building Codes of Australia (BCA). The ABCB maintains BCA on behalf of the Commonwealth, the State, and the Territory governments. These uniform set of technical provisions, adopted all over Australia, regulate and design construction of buildings. The BCA aims at strictly maintaining the criteria stipulated by the Australian Standards (AS). The BCA has two volumes. The Volume 1 deals in Class 2 to Class 9 Buildings. The sections include, (1) General Provisions, (2) Structure, (3) Fire Resistance, (4) Access and Egress, (5) Service and Equipment, (6) Health and Amenity, (7) Ancillary provisions, (8) Special Use Buildings, (9) Maintenance, and (10)Energy Efficiency. Each of these sections is further classified into subsections and clauses.
Volume 2 deals in Class 1 to Class 10 Buildings, i.e. housing provisions. This volume consists of (1) General Requirements, (2) Performance Provisions, and (3) Acceptable Construction. Like in volume 1, each of these sections is further classified into subsections and explanatory information. Also, each section specifically marks State and Territory variations (CIV/DIPBC 2010).