On the 25th May 2017, the Minister for Housing and Public Works and Minister for Sport, Honourable Mick de Brenni, introduced into the Queensland Parliament the Building and Construction Legislation (Non-Conforming Building Products-Chain of Responsibility and Other Matters) Amendment Bill 2017 regarding the proposed new laws with respect to building product safety.
The government’s concern was raised by a string of recent building product failures in the residential complexes across South-East Queensland (HQ Apartments in Chermside, Silverstone Apartments in Coolangatta) and the 2014 fire in Lacrosse Towers in Melbourne. In all instances the harmful products which were installed by the builder were imported and did not comply with the relevant Australian Standards.
Presently, Queensland home owners may be covered by a policy of insurance against defective construction under the Queensland Home Warranty Scheme. However, the policy of insurance has significant limitations and usually does not cover multi-unit residential apartments.
The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (‘QBCC’) (Technical Standards Unit) currently has powers to audit construction sites and issue notices to bring defective construction into compliance with the relevant building standards.
Under the proposed new laws, the QBCC will receive broader powers of inspection with respect to the construction sites, for example to take samples for testing and to direct rectification. Apart from the building contractors and certifiers, the QBCC will be able to have recourse against various stakeholders in the “chain of responsibility” with respect to the building products that pose health and safety risks. It is further understood that in the proposed legislation the liability for non-compliant building products may attach to designers, manufacturers, importers, suppliers and installers.
The proposed legislation contains provisions regarding the issuing of public safety warnings and the establishment of the Building Products Advisory Committee to oversee the issues relating to nonconforming building products.
If passed through the parliament, it is expected that the new laws will be enacted by end of 2017.
Rostron Carlyle Lawyers specialise in building and construction law. Contact our construction team for more information.