Nearly half of the builders who applied for a residential building licence in the ACT failed the exam the first and second time around, as complaints regarding construction laws more than double.
Of the 61 Class C building licence applicants in 2017-18, 30 failed their first attempt, while 14 failed their second attempt, the latest Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate annual report reveals.
And while applicants only have to fail twice before their licence is refused, the report tracked builders who came back for a third and fourth attempt later on as part of a new application. Of the five who came back for round three, four failed. Of the two who came back for a fourth try, only one passed.
The results are consistent with 2016 figures, which showed 48 per cent of applicants failed the Class C exam the first time, and 44 per cent failed on their second attempt.
A Class C licence is the second-most commonly held class of builder licence in the ACT, and allows the licence-holder to work on low rise or residential buildings.
Since May 2016, those wanting to apply for a Class C licence have been required to sit a written exam, as well as provide evidence of a qualification and work experience.
The exam was introduced to ensure applicants had a thorough understanding of building regulations and processes, amid concerns about building quality.
Those concerns have spiralled in the last two years, and from next year one in five builders renewing their licences across the A, B and C classes will be forced to undergo an exam.
In 2017-18, Access Canberra received 366 complaints related to planning laws; 546 complaints related to construction laws; and settled 226 cases related to both building and planning issues.
That was a significant increase on 2016-17, where the regulator received 305 complaints related to planning laws and 220 complaints related to construction laws.
The types of complaints included defective work, no building approvals, breaches of the building code and planning laws, poor electrical installation and faulty wiring, as well as non-compliant plumbing works.
Access Canberra issued 133 demerit points to construction occupations licensees in 2017-18, although none were referred to ACAT.
The regulator also conducted 8581 inspections of new electrical work; 11,464 random inspections of alterations and additions to existing electrical installations; 13,012 inspections of plumbing installations; and 2688 inspections of gas installations.
The submissions have detailed numerous accounts of builders going bust and leaving homeowners with numerous defects, horror repair bills and eye-watering body corporate fees.
One anonymous contributor said if their Master Builders Fidelity Fund claim was knocked back, each apartment owner would be forced to find $85,000 to fix the building.
"We simply cannot afford this. I cannot fathom coming up with $85,000 for rectification works on top of other living expenses, mortgage repayments, and my personal plans to start having children. Our only realistic option would be to sell the apartment in a drenched ACT housing and apartment market, and live in my car or at my parents home in Victoria," they wrote.
Other submissions have spoken of balconies sloping the wrong way in an apartment block in Braddon, meaning the carpet gets drenched every time it rains; a bad extension leading to water pouring through the ceiling light fittings; and toilet water leaking into apartment wall cavities.
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