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Compliance Summary Report

My Canberra Building Inspections ACT

This Report is short.

It is an important inspection.

This is not a Building Inspection Report or part of that report. It is separate. This report is not included in the Building Inspection Report. This is a visual only report. This report must be asked for separately. It is usually short, but can also be lengthy depending on the building.

These are done both in New South Wales and ACT.  In ACT it is mandatory for every house sold to have such a report. But the reports are optional for other buildings, such as commercial buildings.

The reports do not include things that were approved once and certified for use, but where now the standards and work safety regulations have changed. Building inspectors are not accountable for these changes and do not have to note them them when they do an inspection.

For example, a stairway may have been approved in 1975, but decades later the rules on the stair tread lengths and heights might have changed. A more recent example might be that homes were not required to have insulation in external walls and roofs, but later the circumstances, such as for rental houses, has changed. Disabled access for commercial buildings will be another. If you have any queries, please, it is important that you email us.

Who Does the Report?

Compliance Summary Reports are done by the building inspector by either visiting the local council or shire in New South Wales, or by contacting Access Canberra (which used to be the ACT Planning Authority – ACTPLA) on the internet portal set up they have. There is the direct link to Access Canberra if you want to buy the plans yourself direct. These plans and certificates are also called the Conveyancing File and are on that page so linked.

Generally, the plans arrive, and we check what is on site compared to what was approved in the documents to be there. What we are looking for are additional buildings or parts of buildings that were added that were not in the original government approved plans and certificates. So, if you look if we are inspecting a forty year old building, and it was approved, and nothing was visibly added since then, then there would be nothing to report.

But, if there are worksite issues that have changed over the years, these will not be noted.  This is more likely to happen in commercial buildings, offices and shops. An example might be that there are meant to be one toilet for each gender today for certain floor areas, but today there may be requirements for double that. This would not be noted, as what is there in the original building approval is what is there now and what is compared against.

An example for residential buildings might be with regards tiled roofs. In some states tiles roofs may have been allowed on a minimum 15 degree pitch, but then the regulations may have changed to be a minimum of 17 degree pitch or higher.

Another area of change for all buildings might be the overall parking numbers and sizes. These will not be noted. Again, if you have a question, please contact us.

How it is Done

Fees are paid to the council, or Access Canberra.  The plans generally arrive after a time by email. But some NSW shires have different methods.  The inspector then reads the plans and is able to see what has been approved to be there on the property and what was approved to be changed.

The inspector then looks at the site and takes his photos and measures what has changed.  He then writes his summary report.

If there are changes he looks at the changes and reviews if they needed to be approved.  For example, if a pergola was erected, it likely does not need approval.  But if it is roofed and has a combined roofed area greater than 25 square meters, or is above 3 meters above natural ground level, then plans for it should have been submitted and approved.

Why is This Important?

It is not the weight of the roof that is important.  It is the uplift of the roof during a strong wind that is important. A flying roof can kill, and has.

Is the structure sufficient to withstand that lift? Were the footings properly engineered and poured to make sure the roof did not take the pergola up into the sky and hurt someone?  If this structure is there beyond what is allowed, then it is an unapproved structure.

The same goes for stairs and handrails and decking.  Some need approval and some do not.  It is the inspector’s job to write down what is unapproved as a structure.  It can be a litigious world, so he needs to be aware.

Unapproved Structures

Unapproved structures can be big, and we have even found an entire floor added above a house that was never approved.  The house was then sold to a builder who was going to get plans drawn up and get it approved.  The point here is not to enforce people to withdraw their structures, but to make sure new owners are aware that such may not have been approved.  Thus, in that case the new owners can wear the responsibility.

I have also seen garages turned into living quarters, again unapproved, as the garages were too close to the fence in the setback, and the ceilings were below the minimum for habitable spaces, and so on.  I have also seen pools approved one year, but not approved today.  These all get reported if unapproved.

The Purpose

The purpose of all this is relevant.  It leads to a bettering of building standards and a higher awareness of the need to be lawful.

See here for a sample of the Compliance Report:

Written by Nick Broadhurst, our inspector. For more information on Nick: See here

For Access Canberra information on what is exempt from compliance, please see the Access Canberra website page here.

Call us today for your next Building Inspection.

We will answer your questions.

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