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06 August 2014 Posted by 


Growth being hampered, say councils

By Di Bartok

ILLEGAL building works are hampering housing growth in the west, claims Holroyd Council, which is leading the fight to ensure there is not an increase in the number of dodgy buildings and structures dotted throughout western Sydney.

Holroyd’s director of environmental planning services Greg Raft warns the cost of illegal building works to the building industry could impede western Sydney’s “ambitious housing targets”.

Western Sydney councils are calling for more control of the private certification industry.

While not all private certifiers are approving works that do not meet building standards, councils  say  there are too many taking advantage of naive residents and builders who think private certifiers are less expensive than councils’.

Holroyd is doing more than complaining about the industry - it is launching an education program aimed at the public and tradespeople.

“We have launched a program aimed at tradespeople, builders and the general public explaining the certification process and how councils can help,” a council spokeswoman said.

“There is an incorrect perception that certification from councils is more expensive than private certifiers.”

The education program includes videos and information sessions.

Holroyd was moved to action after discovering an alarming 828 incidences of illegal building works throughout the west in 2013/14 alone.

Mr Raft said the problem will worsen “if cracks in building certification foundations are not repaired”.

“This problem is costing architects, builders, developers, owners and all ratepayers substantial sums of money,” Mr Raft said.

“In 2013/14, Holroyd Council had to issue 160 fines for illegal building works, 42 stop work orders and 49 demolition orders.”

Blacktown Council agrees the problem has increased and feels there should be less ambiguity between definitions of various development categories, as well as greater penalties for breaches of the legislation to act as a deterrent.

“There has always been a level of illegal building work, done without approval by a naïve home owner, or a home owner who simply chooses to ignore the rules,” a Blacktown Council spokeswoman said.

“This is most prevalent in new residential development and affordable housing development, particularly secondary dwellings such as granny flats.”

The Hills Council spokesman says illegal building work was mostly down to “builders cutting corners rather than dodgy certification.”

“While council’s position is opposed to private certification in general, we acknowledge that private certification is here to stay,” he said.

“Council believes that there are some changes that would alleviate some of the issues that arise from private certification, such as removing private certifier’s authority to approve development.”

Penrith Council believes a State Government-led program with local government support could look into clearer guidelines and better training for private certifiers, while Liverpool has called on the government to regularly monitor private certifiers to tackle the problem.


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