Griffith City Council has confirmed it may be forced to foot the bill for buildings found to be illegally certified by the NSW Building Professional's Board (BPB) last year.
According to the investigation, council assigned staff who were not properly accredited under the law to certify around 26 buildings.
Inspections are currently being carried out to determine whether or not further work is needed to bring these buildings up to code.
Griffith City Council General Manager Brett Stonestreet said the upcoming inspections would determine who would have to pay for any further work.
“There are 26 buildings which require inspection. These inspections will determine what works are required to bring the respective building into compliance," he said.
“The responsibility for payment for rectification works will depend on the nature of works required. Responsibility may be with either the building owner or council (where council staff certified the building), or the building certification contractor engaged by council to certify the building."
The report released last year found council had not provided “acceptable reasons or explanations for the inappropriate management of its certification function”.
A NSW Fair Trading spokeswoman confirmed council had complied with the report’s recommendations in the year since and would not receive a fine.
“Griffith City Council has demonstrated to The Building Professional Board and Office of Local Government that the final report’s recommendations were implemented within the required timeframe," she said.
“No further action will be taken.”
The board had given council until July 23 2018 to comply.
Mr Stonestreet confirmed council had received a letter from BPB on August 2 to advise their investigation of the matter is now concluded.
Community concerns raised
Griffith Business Chamber President Paul Pierotti said while he welcomed the results of the findings, he holds serious concerns about the potential impact on the ratepayer.
“It's good news that council have avoided paying fines on this very serious breach," he said.
“It's extremely concerning that the general manager has openly admitted the cost may be burdened on the ratepayer. I don’t see that as acceptable. It's unacceptable that the community might have to potentially foot the bill."
Community and Development Council of Griffith (formerly Griffith ratepayers association) President Carmel La Rocca said council had to make sure the mistake wouldn’t be repeated.
“You’d expect better from our council in the first place so everything is approved to standard … They must ensure that this does not happen again. There is no reason for it to happen again,” she said.
“Now, this is where they’re at. They have to deal with it. If they have to lay out some money for the discrepancies they had, so be it.”
Griffith City Council’s answers in full:
Have Griffith City Council satisfied all requirements set out as part of the investigation? Were these completed by July 23 as required?
Council wrote to the Building Professionals Board seeking an extension of time from 23 July 2018 to 27 July 2018 to submit its final response to the Building Professionals Board report and recommendations contained therein. The Board approved this request and Council's response was submitted on 27 July.
Council received a response from the Board ( letter dated 2 August 2018). In part the letter states " The Board thanks Council and its staff for its assistance in regard to the investigation which is now concluded........The Board's position remains that it will not be taking any further action including under Section 9.3 (1) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979."
Does Griffith City Council have a financial responsibility to pay for any potential works on 20 buildings that were illegally certified under Australian standards? If not, who does this responsibility lie with? (ie owners or whoever certified)
There are 26 Buildings which require inspection. These inspections will determine what works are required to bring the respective building into compliance with the Building Code of Australia and fire safety requirements of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. The responsibility for payment for rectification works will depend on the nature of works required. Responsibility may be with either the Building owner or Council (where Council staff certified the Building), or the Building Certification Contractor engaged by Council to certify the Building.
Does council consider this issue to be resolved? Why/Why not?
Council as received a letter from the Building Professionals Board 2 August 2018 advising that their investigation of the matter is now concluded. Council will engage an A1 accredited Certifier to inspect 26 Buildings to determine what rectification works are required to bring the Building into compliance with the Building Code of Australia and fire regulations. These rectification works will be undertaken. Once these works are completed, Council will consider the Building Professionals Board investigation matter resolved.
Have all buildings found to be in breach been properly reinspected?
Council will engage an A1 accredited Certifier to inspect 26 Buildings to determine what rectification works, are required to bring the Building into compliance with the Building Code of Australia and fire regulations. These rectification works will be undertaken.
What steps have been taken to make sure this kind of error isn't repeated?
Council has put procedures and systems in place, as reported to the Building Professionals Board, to ensure all future building certifications will be undertaken in compliance with the Act.
How will council ensure buildings that were certified by those not properly accredited are safe and conform to all building codes?
Council will engage an A1 accredited Certifier to inspect 26 Buildings to determine what rectification works are required to bring the Building into compliance with the Building Code of Australia and fire regulations. These rectification works will be undertaken.