Building approval backlog bites

Last month’s council agenda included a warrant of payments with refunds of $90 to $2655 that had not complied with the timeframe regulations under the Building Act.

City businesses director Chris Morrison said assessment exceeded the timeframes of 10 days for certified applications and 25 days for uncertified ones in all cases.

‘The issue with timeframes began October 2013 and has continued to date ” recently the numbers are decreasing,’ he said.

‘Reconciliation is usually carried out once a month, however the large amount that was paid out was the result of the backlog of applications that had gone over.

‘Toward the end of last year the city experienced a huge influx of building applications, along with losing three key members of the building staff resulting in applications going over time and creating a back log.’

Mr Morrison said the total amount of refunds was less than 5 per cent of the revenue collected, and the City expected to have 7000 building applications this financial year.

The total amount of refunds is less than 5 per cent of the revenue collected.

‘Last financial year the city collected around $2.3 million in revenue from building applications and that was based on 6000 applications being received,’ he said.

‘The City is currently finalising contracts to enable us to outsource application assessments should increased workloads or resourcing issues arise in future.’

Housing Industry of Australia state executive director John Gelavis said members reported delays in building permits across Perth, including from the City of Wanneroo.

‘We do get members, particularly volume building members complaining about building permit timeframes,’ he said.

‘There’s been one or two other local government areas that are greenfield local government areas that don’t have a significant amount of delays.

‘It’s a real concern for the industry on building approval timeframes ” we would like to see that approval process looked at and streamlined.’

Mr Gelavis said costs escalated for consumers if there were delays in the building process, particularly if paying rent elsewhere.

He said HIA was advocating for a private certification model so builders had the option to go to a private surveyor for building approvals instead of local government.

Mr Gelavis said with such strong population growth in WA, people needed houses, and state government schemes had helped boost the industry.