Right now, Australia’s building and construction industry is setting records for growth. January’s ABS figures on new home commencements show that the rate of new residential construction is at an all-time high.  Meanwhile, the Victorian Building Authority just hit a new record for the value of building work reported in the state: $29.8 billion of building permits recorded in 2015, 10.6 per cent above the 2014 high of $26.9 billion.

But with growth comes scrutiny—of safety standards, materials and work practices. And that’s a great thing for the industry because it leads to safer workplaces, better buildings, more innovation and happy customers. It also means that as a trades person it’s more important than ever to be staying on top of your state-based licensing and permit rules and Australia’s building codes and regulations.

The price for not following the rules has been proven in Victoria over the past few months, as the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) has begun to exercise its new powers to regulate the construction industry.

In February a Victorian builder was fined $40,000 after being found guilty of carrying out building work without a registration, providing a false certificate of insurance and demanding more than the maximum five per cent deposit. In March, the VBA referred a surveyor to the Building Practitioners Board for disciplinary action following their investigation into non-BCA-compliant cladding on the Lacrosse Apartments in Melbourne’s Docklands, which contributed to the spread of a fire.

Last month the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) pursued two builders in court, leading to convictions and $201,500 in fines for unlicensed building activity that affected six home owners in the Ipswich, Beenleigh and Brisbane areas. And the QBCC is currently targeting unlicensed building work on the Gold Coast, reporting that their audits on building sites during February and March have uncovered 26 people participating in illegal building activity.

This month, the Environmental Protection Authority is reminding builders that regulation extends to waste as well as licensing, with their ‘Do you know where your waste goes?’ campaign. They’ve highlighted the problem of illegal dumping and the fines of up to $758,000 attached—which extend to building site managers who hire waste removal contractors without checking their tipping dockets.

If you’re a tradie at the start of your career and want to learn about how building and plumbing regulations work, the Australian Building Codes Board website is a great resource. They’ve just published a preview of the National Construction Code 2016, which will be adopted by all states and territories on 1 May 2016. Within the NCC 2016, Australian Standards are referenced — and you can search and access these documents via Standards Australia.

Licensing regulation happens at a state and territory level, but the federal government’s Licence Recognition portal is a great way to find all the relevant authorities in one place.

As always, the moral of the story is ‘better to be safe than sorry’. And definitely better to be safe than owe thousands of dollars in fines.

If you’re looking to take on more responsibility at work or move towards running your own building and construction business, additional training and obtaining a qualification is a great option — especially if you can keep working while you study. Have a look at the flexible course hours for our CPC40120 Certificate IV in Building and Construction (Building) and the CPC50220 Diploma of Building and Construction (Building), You can submit an enquiry via the course links, or feel free to give the team a call on 1300 LEGEND.