The Queensland Government has recently changed the law to limit the ability of developers to put in place comprehensive covenants to protect their development product.
The policy objectives behind Building and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2009 - which had its third reading in parliament Thursday last week – will lead to amendments to a number of Acts relevant to sustainable building practices and other building and plumbing matters including (but not limited to) amending the Building Act 1975 (BA) to:• ‘’ban the banners’’ by stopping bodies corporate and developers from restricting the use of sustainable and affordable design features such as light coloured roofs, single garages, smaller houses and solar hot water systems;
• introduce mandatory completion of a sustainability declaration at the point of sale for houses, townhouses (class 1a) and units (class 2);
• introduce sections that support the implementation of a new part of the Queensland Development Code (QDC) to improve the current processes for mitigating the impacts of noise in identified transport corridors; and
• expand the role of Building Surveying Technicians (BSTs) to improve career paths in the building sector and address the shortage of building certifiers and implement a number of minor improvements to the Act as part of the continuous improvement process.
“Ban the banners”
The “ban the banners” policy aims to stop bodies corporate and developers from restricting the use of sustainable building elements and features. This will be achieved by rendering invalid new covenants and body corporate statements/by-laws which restrict owners or bodies corporate from using selected sustainable and affordable features such as light roof colours, smaller minimum floor areas, fewer bedrooms and bathrooms, types of materials and surface finishes to be used for external walls and roofs, single garages and the appropriate location for solar hot water systems and photovoltaic cells. Other than for solar hot water systems and photovoltaic cells the provisions do not apply where a contract or other agreement, such as a lease / sublease, Community Management Statement (CMS) or by-law, is either in effect or entered into before the commencement of the relevant sections.
While the overriding provisions cannot be varied merely for the purpose of preserving or enhancing the external appearance of the building, a body corporate will remain able to apply appropriate operational controls over the use of sustainability features to reduce any adverse impacts on affected neighbours. For example, bodies corporate may require roof finishes to have low reflectivity in cases where neighbours may be affected by glare or they may require that split solar hot water systems be used where the weight of roof storage units may not be supported by the roof members.
Mandating a sustainability declaration at the point of sale for houses, townhouses and units will:
• increase community awareness of sustainable building features and thereby over time help to improve the sustainability of our community;
• promote the relevance of sustainability features for the value of homes;
• encourage sellers to improve the value of homes by adding sustainable building features; and
• provide valuable information about how the features of an existing home compare to most of the mandatory minimum energy and water efficiency features of a new (or in some cases renovated) home.
Commencement date – 1 January 2010
The new provisions (with the exception of those dealing with solar hot water systems and photovoltaic cells) will not apply to:
· contracts or other agreements entered into before 1 January 2010
· other relevant instruments made or entered into before 1 January 2010 that are in force or effect for a lot within the meaning of the Land Title Act 1994.
Changes to Queensland's building laws - public information sessions
The Department of Planning and Infrastructure has announced a series of free training sessions on the proposed sustainability changes, which will be held across Queensland from 23 November - 3 December.
These sessions will cover:
swimming pool safety laws for new pools from 1 December 2009
other building matters and new government policies, including:
mandatory sustainability declarations when a house or unit is marketed for sale
new laws which prevent covenants and specific provisions from restricting the use of certain sustainable features
provisions for building in transport noise corridors.