Dodgy construction work has cost the ACT economy almost $1 billion in the past eight years, an industry group has estimated, as it calls for an urgent fix to the territory's "building quality problem".
The Master Builders Association of the ACT says the territory government's failure to act on repeated calls to tighten building regulation has caused significant financial and emotional stress for industry and the wider community.
The ACT government has acknowledged the high price of poor construction work in the capital, but said it was introducing reforms which would lift standards.
The association's chief executive, Michael Hopkins, said its calculations estimated shoddy construction work had cost the ACT economy $995 million since 2010, the year the territory government launched the first of three inquiries into building standards in the territory.
The figure is modelled on research from the University of New South Wales, which estimated that for every $100 million spent on construction, over $5 million was wasted on fixing defects.
More than $19.9 billion worth of construction work has been completed in the ACT since 2010, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures referenced by the lobby group.
"Poor building quality has a significant cost on consumers, industry and governments," Mr Hopkins said.
"However, the financial impact does not factor in the stress on homeowners, and the commercial impact on subcontractors and small businesses who can't compete with operators who cut corners on quality and safety."
Mr Hopkins called for the introduction of engineer and trade contractor licences and mandatory training as priorities in fixing the "ACT's building quality problem".
"The ACT government should also ensure existing buildings laws are enforced and a well resourced and timely complaints process is implemented," he said.
"The Canberra community deserves a best practice building regulatory system that keeps pace with the ACT's record population growth and current building boom."
Mr Hopkins said all of its members had to comply with the association's code of conduct, which included requirements to adhere to the law and industry standards.
The association's recommendations will form part of its submission to the latest ACT government building quality inquiry, which was launched in April amid mounting concern over problems in the construction industry.
A discussion paper prepared for the inquiry referenced the UNSW research, as well as statistics which showed Access Canberra has received more than 525 complaints related to planning and construction laws in 2016-17.
The inquiry has so far received 39 submissions, with many detailing examples of defected properties, construction delays and owners being left tens of thousands of dollars out pocket by broke builders.
Pheonixing - the illegal practice in which directors liquidate a company in order to avoid paying debts, only to re-emerge under a new guise - was also said to be rife in the sector, according to many of the submissions.
ACT Building Quality Improvement Minister Gordon Ramsay this week said the government acknowledged the detrimental effects of poorly designed and constructed buildings on industry and the community.
Mr Ramsay said the government was implementing a raft of reforms to improve standards in the sector, including introducing new powers to refuse licences and impose tougher penalties for breaches of building and licensing laws.
The ACT government will also conduct audits of randomly selected newly-constructed properties in the lead up to Christmas as part of its building quality crackdown.
Mr Ramsay said the audits would scrutinise compliance with development approvals and the national construction code, and ensure no one was illegally living in the property before a certificate of occupancy had been issued.
The granting of the certificates is the final step before owners or tenants can move into a new property.
"As we come closer to the end of the year there is increased pressure to deliver completed buildings to new homeowners," Mr Ramsay said.
"The audit is another important tool in ensuring industry is complying with building regulations and quality standards and not cutting corners."
Access Canberra will audit between five and 10 per cent of all certificate of occupancy applications submitted between now and the end of the year, including for single-storey houses and high-rise apartments.
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