The Australian government is getting serious about Section J compliance, and you need to be equally serious about it yourself. At the very least, the consequences for non-compliance will be lengthy delays in your project completion, but hefty financial penalties are also possible.
The building industry is one that abundantly exemplifies the adage that it is better to be safe than sorry, and the consequences of bad building practice can persist for decades after the project is completed and swing back around to hit you hard.
Fortunately it is not difficult to avoid attracting penalties and delays, because the Section J provisions are not difficult to comply with. There isn’t any particularly good reason to seek to avoid compliance, and in fact complying with the provisions can save you money and trouble.
In the rest of this article, we’ll share the things you can do to ensure your project is Section J compliant, and keep yourself out of trouble in the process.
1. Plan ahead for Section J compliance
The very best way to make sure you don’t run afoul of the Section J provisions is to make sure you understand them and incorporate compliance in the planning and design stage. This way there are no surprises, you can accurately estimate you budget, and it is far less likely that you will encounter problems later.
If studying isn’t your thing, or you don’t feel confident in your ability to memorise and interpret the provisions, you can hire expert consultants from Section J Reports to assist you with compliance planning.
2. Have the Section J report prepared
Your project must have a Section J Report, which is the obvious reason to do it. This is a lengthy document that describes in detail how your building project meets the required standards.
It will include a summary of the energy efficiency, building fabric, external glazing, building sealing, chimneys and flues, air conditioning and ventilation systems, artificial lighting and power, heated water supply (plus swimming pool and spa pool plant, if any), and maintenance access.
There are certain mandatory report sections which are not always applicable to all buildings, and when this is the case, it is simply noted in the section of the report that the provision does not apply to the building.
For example, one mandatory section is “Ceiling Fans”, and if your building will not have ceiling fans installed, the section can’t simply be omitted. We must include the section and write that it does not apply because the building will not have ceiling fans installed.
3. Perform regular compliance audits
You need to do inspections at each stage of project completion to be certain your project is staying within the parameters that have been set by law. Building safety is the number one priority, and Section J compliance is right behind it. Getting all your inspections done at the same time is the most practical strategy.
4. Wait to receive feedback before continuing
This seems so logical that you wouldn’t expect anyone to not do so. Impatient builders might press ahead before getting the all-clear from an inspection, and if anything was found to be out of order in the inspection, the costs of back tracking will be much higher than if you wait to get the inspection report first.
These precautions are not expensive and usually don’t involve delays. When you take these precautions, you avoid more serious delays and costs from arising if a later government inspection finds anything amiss.