When you have been a registered builder for 20 years and run an architectural practice for almost a decade, it’s likely you’ve seen a lot of change in the ever-evolving homebuilding industry.
Today, Humphrey Homes Owner/Director Dean Humphrey talks about his experience relating to the changes he has seen to R Codes, BCA/NCC compliance, Australian standards, local by-laws, safety and energy requirements, council approvals and technical building knowledge. These may be the "less exciting" areas of building a new home; nonetheless they are important, and Mr Humphrey explains what these changes mean to the homebuilder.
Access to information has become much easier and faster.
Twenty years ago, people designing a home would traditionally find inspiration locally and from magazines, according to Mr Humphrey.
"Nowadays people have the world at their fingertips and can source ideas from around the globe while sipping a cappuccino in their own home," he said.
"The internet, and platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, provide endless ideas for architecture and styling of homes.
"There is so much information available it can actually be confusing for people. The same access to technical information can also be very confusing for people if they don’t understand compliance requirements both nationally and locally.
"What works in the US or the UK for example may be non-compliant in Australia."
The bible which all builders must comply with in Australia is called the BCA (Building Code of Australia), now called the NCC (National Construction Code). 20 years ago the BCA was a fairly simple, printed document. It is now an electronic document which has evolved significantly.
Mr Humphrey said compliance and conformance were words often referred to these days when designing and building homes, for quality of workmanship and also the supply of products.
"Like ideas on the internet, products are also readily available from all around the globe," he said.
"In a world often driven by speed, cost and convenience, it can be a minefield for people wanting cheap imported products they may have found online, without any knowledge of which standards or codes these products need to conform with."
Mr Humphrey said energy requirements when designing a home were very basic 20 years ago; today, it is a requirement to achieve a stricter energy assessment.
"This is designed to ensure homes will perform to a minimum standard in terms of general comfort including heat loss and heat gain, before a building permit will be provided from the local council," he said.
"No longer does your local council even approve your building permit; that is usually done by a private building surveyor and it’s called a CDC (Certificate of Design Compliance). It is approved and then given to your council to provide the actual permit."
Work health and safety
This aspect has far greater power these days than it did 20 years ago, according to Mr Humphrey
"The requirements for site safety have increased substantially," he said. "All of these things are necessary for safer building sites and better buildings, but also add both time and cost to the construction of homes in WA."
Mr Humphrey said many of the changes in the homebuilding industry over the last 20 years had been incremental, with many small changes to adapt to.
"It has been an ever-changing landscape," he said. "Looking back over a 20-year period, it is a totally different environment with stricter rules and regulations, but one which I believe is, overall, better for our industry and consumers."
This story first appeared in The West Australian New Homes liftout on September 29, 2018
Humphrey Homes is an architecture and building company based in Cottesloe. As a Perth local architect and builder, Humphrey Homes primarily designs and builds homes in Cottesloe, Dalkeith, Peppermint Grove, Nedlands, Subiaco and Floreat. Discover more by joining the conversation on Facebook, Instagram or say hello today.