Lee realised that building certification would benefit greatly from mandatory peer review requirements. This would not only address the issues identified and discussed in the following reports, but also reduce risk and exposure for the Building Surveyor / Building Certifier who carries a disproportional amount of risk and liability:
- The release of the Victorian Attorney-General’s Office (VAGO) 2011 report into the level of compliance in the Victorian Building Permit system. The VAGO report highlighted concerns with the building permit system in Victoria and the use of ‘Alternative Solutions’.
- The September 2013 NSW Parliamentary Research Service Briefing Paper, NSW Planning Reforms – Building Regulation and Certification released in September 2013 found similar issues to that of the VAGO report
- A 2011 review in Queensland where the state government established a new Queensland Building Construction Commission after legislation was passed to establish a new building regulator. The development of the new Commission forms part of the state government’s 10-point plan to reform building regulation in Queensland.
- Announcement in January 2014 that Tasmania is also planning a review of the building regulatory framework relating to the building and construction industry.
‘Alternative Solutions’ assessing an access provision should be peer reviewed by an independent Accredited Access Consultant to provide assurance and mitigate risk. A peer review will assess the proposed design to determine whether the relevant ‘Performance Requirements’ have been met. Where a Building Certifier / Building Surveyor has concerns about accepting an ‘Access Alternative Solution’ they can require that the proposed design is the subject of a peer review by an independent consultant.
When undertaking an ‘Access Peer Review’ the Accredited Access Consultant should:
- Review the design.
- Determine the methodology used to develop the proposed ‘Alternative Solution’.
- Determine if the methodology of the proposed ‘Alternative Solution’ is appropriate.
- Identify and verify the relevant ‘Performance Requirements’ and ‘Deemed-to-Satisfy’ provisions.
- Determine if the proposed ‘Alternative Solution’ meets the relevant ‘Performance Requirements’. This may require a performance assessment to check compliance.
- Provide an ‘Access Peer Review’ report outlining the above.
- Where applicable, include practical recommendations to achieve compliance if the design is found to not satisfy the ‘Performance Requirements’.
By Lee Wilson, Disability Access Consultant / DDA Consultant, Melbourne, Victoria. Lee is an Accredited Member of the Association of Consultants in Access, Australia Inc.
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