The Building Verification Council (BVC) will not be imposing extra stringencies and expenses on builders and homebuyers. The rationale is to integrate all the existing disjointed building compliance mechanisms into one harmonised and national system. The BVC will operate within existing and building code and standard frameworks requiring no new legislation or regulation to facilitate its activities.
The BVC will also adopt the most useful and successful aspects of existing assessment and verification schemes, incorporate the latest research and data, then use systems and procedures that greatly reduce the time taken for compliance checking. The result should realise an improvement in housing affordability by streamlining processes that are currently cumbersome, ineffective and costly to implement.
Closing the gap between the designed and as-built performance of residential buildings will be achieved with three interlinking verification regimes that follow a flexible "whole of building" and "whole of life cycle" approach:
1. House Energy Rating
The BVC will develop a nationally consistent and widely supported, advanced alternative to NatHERS that also incorporates BASIX and other building performance modeling measures.
The new scheme will ensure that tools strictly comply with a new BVC Protocol for House Energy Rating Software that requires:
- The tool to be robust and work as intended.
- The output of the tool can be independently verified.
- The tool to be extensible so that development and upgrades are ongoing.
- Tool integrates with CAD and building design software.
- Tool useability is improved to reduce the time taken to perform accurate assessments.
- Tool training and user guides are provided to assessors.
- Tool generates project-specific recommendations on how to improve rating scores.
- Initial assessment is carried out at pre-construction to verify building design and based on 10 Star Rating scale.
- Final assessment is carried out at post-construction to verify building compliance.
- Assessment encompasses the building fabric (heating and cooling), fixed services, fixed equipment, fixed appliances, liveability and access using a flexible "whole of building" and "whole of life cycle" approach.
Crucially the new scheme will sit within the existing Alternative Solutions compliance pathway of the National Construction Code requiring no regulatory changes.
Professional Certification of assessors and inspectors will be required to acknowledge individuals who have met a high recognised standard in education, experience and professionalism required to work within the scheme.
The scheme will collect agreed national rating data, but regulatory documentation will be customised to suit the requirements of each Jurisdiction. To achieve this, a Verification Processing System (VPS) will generate certification stamps and specification blocks for drawing sets as well as an Initial Verification Report to indicate to certifiers and builders (and ultimately homeowners) the simulated performance of the building across a range of measures.
2. As-Built Verification
As-Built Verification will help building certifiers, create certainty for consumers and allows builders to compete on a level playing field. This process will rely on inspectors using a modified form of the Initial Verification Report as a checklist to verify that what is built matches what was assessed at DA and CC stage.
"As-built" inspectors will check dwellings for third-party certification of materials, referencing NCP database (established by the BVC) and check for correct installation. Once a building is verified a Building Performance Label will be permanently affixed to the structure, providing consumers with clarity about the performance of their home.
The Building Performance Label will list Star Ratings (out of ten) for building fabric (heating and cooling energy consumption), fixed services, fixed equipment, fixed appliances, embodied energy, GHG, liveability, materials selection, recyclable materials and responsible sourcing, construction and household waste, recycling and storage, air and water pollution (excluding CO2), rain and stormwater management, indoor air quality.
The BVC will also advocate for the elimination of first and second party product certification in regulations as well as higher penalties for the use of NCPs and encourage "as-built/in-situ" performance testing of materials and systems by suppliers.
3. Voluntary Disclosure
A voluntary disclosure framework will be created that meets the needs of real estate, valuation, conveyancing and mortgage lending professionals and is trusted by consumers. Previous energy disclosure models were too complex and always involved slugging consumers with upfront assessment fees.
The BVC will embrace a simpler and more elegant approach, the "17 Things" verification framework developed by LJ Hooker. "17 Things" requires little or no home-seller expense and it quantifies the value of a building’s sustainability by identifying property features in order to appraise, list and sell the building.
It is envisaged that the "17 Things" information will encourage home-buyers to improve the performance of their new property and invest in a Home Sustainability Assessment (HSA).
Where possible the BVC will harmonise its processes with the Energy Saver Scheme (ESS) in NSW, the My Star Energy Rating scheme in VIC and other state/territory energy efficiency schemes.
The checklist is an appraisal form that can ONLY be used by a trained Liveability Real Estate Specialist who will be able to upload their data into the BVC Verification Processing System.
By capturing a building’s original compliance rating information, as-built verification report and the "17 Things" data, homeowners and property professionals will have a virtual "log book" for every property and building performance data will be retained over multiple resales.