WA Government Issues Bulletin On Performance Solutions
Guidance on developing performance solutions for housing projects
This month, the Western Australian Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety Building and Energy has released a bulletin to discuss ‘guidance on developing performance solutions for housing projects.’
The document seeks to provide background on key considerations which Building professionals should consider in developing compliant and effective solutions and ‘regard the whole-of-life cost’ in developing such a solution.
In speaking with Brian Cameron, Hendry’s State Manager for Building Surveying in Western Australia, he said that a major concern in the industry is ‘Poor installation or workmanship, which is NOT carried out in accordance with manufacturers installation manuals and associated building regulations.’
Brian advises that if concerned about any works or solutions carried out, owners of residential properties either existing or under construction should ‘Employ the services of a registered Building Surveyor to carry out an audit of the building construction at various key stages… Owners should ensure that all workmanship has been carried out in accordance with the National Construction Code (NCC) and any relevant Australian Standards. The WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety look after complaints relating to these matters.’
Site-specific performance solutions
It is important to note that the WA Department stresses, ‘Performance Solutions are site-specific and should not be used as a pseudo “Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution” or used as a last-minute fix to poor design or construction.’
This follows recent concerns raised within the industry over current Performance Solution guidelines as stated in the National Construction Code (NCC) Volume 2 concerning Residential properties and discusses particular applications of the Codes when developing site-specific solutions for:
- Termite Management
- Corrosion Protection
- Installation of Gutters
- Weatherproofing and Masonry (e.g. flashings above and below windows and at slab level)
- Waterproofing of Bath and Shower Installations
The department has identified these areas that require further clarification, as ‘developing a performance solution can be complex.’
Brian Cameron added, ‘It can be hard in these particular areas for Building Surveyors to be aware of any shortcomings unless they are employed by the owner to audit the construction, as currently in WA there are no legislated mandatory inspections for Class 1 residential buildings.’
For example, Termite Management across a residential property is classified under part 3.1.3 of NCC Volume 2, which focuses on the impact of Termites on ‘primary building elements’, namely load-bearing timber. In this case, Performance Requirements are satisfied if ‘a termite management system is installed in a class 1 or 10 building to minimise the risk of termite attack to primary building elements in accordance with AS 3660.1.’ If a builder does not adequately cater for this performance requirement, it won’t be easy to apply a satisfactory Performance Solution after construction has been completed.
Experts and state registration
Mr Cameron also highlighted his concern that some experts are not required to be registered with state accreditation bodies or registrars in WA.
‘Building Surveying Practitioners, Builders, Painters, Plumbers & Electricians are required to be registered in WA. Other trades such as concrete workers, bricklayers, tilers, roof carpenters, roof tilers and associated trades, however, are not required to be registered. In WA, you can have a dwelling built to lock up stage without a registered tradesperson being involved. The foundation is the most important part of any dwelling and it can be completed by virtually anyone, as no registered trades are required,’ he said.
In Australia, Building Surveyors are generally responsible for approving a Performance Solution as part of issuing a certificate of design compliance. The bulletin notes that some Performance Solutions may also require approval from a relevant authority before the certificate can be approved and issued.
Registered Building Surveyors and performance solutions
Where the assistance of an expert or experts is required, it is ultimately the role of a Registered Building Surveyor to determine ‘whether the person undertaking an Expert Judgement is an expert’ and evaluate whether their area of expertise is ‘directly relevant to the Performance Solution.’
At Hendry, we can provide services across Australia for expert assessment, performance solutions, building surveying and compliance certification. We can deliver a comprehensive and fully compliant solution across the built environment. As Brian Cameron states, ‘Hendry provides Quality Assurance across all of our performance solutions and can provide a peer review service for other practitioner’s performance solutions.’
When providing a Performance Solution, records of the following information are highly recommended by the WA Department to assist in the delivery of a compliant solution and to provide evidenced justification as required:
- Details of the relevant Performance Requirements
- Assessment Method(s) used to establish compliance
- Details of any Expert Judgement. This must include the expert’s qualifications and experience, justification for their assessment and the ‘extent to which the judgement was relied upon.’
- Details of any test or calculations used to determine the solution and its compliance
- Details of any standards or other information which were relied upon
It is a requirement that a Performance Solution should clearly be identified and must be detailed on the plans and specifications forming part of a building permit application.
Further clarification on current industry guidelines recommended by the WA Department is provided in the bulletin, which refers to the Australian Building Codes Board ‘Development of Performance Solutions’ guidelines and ‘Understanding the NCC’ for assistance in using the various assessment methods outlined in the NCC.