The ACT's construction cop says he will have no hesitation in shutting down more Canberra building sites, as new figures highlight the extent of the government's crackdown on shoddy, non-compliant or unapproved work.
ACT construction occupations registrar Ben Green has overseen a marked increase in enforcement activity since stepping into the role 12 months ago, following years of alleged inaction by the regulator.
Access Canberra issued almost 200 demerit points to a total of 50 construction industry license holders in 2018-19, a more than 30 per cent jump on the previous year.
A total of 38 construction sites - including 21 in the suburb of Taylor - were temporarily shut down due to non-complaint or unapproved work in the past financial year, according to the regulator's latest figures.
The crackdown has coincided with the ACT Assembly's building quality inquiry, during which industry groups, homeowners and unions criticised Access Canberra for its lax approach to regulating the territory's construction sector.
The figures do not include the most high-profile enforcement action taken this year - the shutting down of Geocon's 1200-unit development in Belconnen on July 11.
Inspectors found Geocon was not complying with its approved plans during construction work.
In an interview with The Canberra Times, Mr Green said the move to halt work on the largest development under way in Canberra was "not a difficult decision to make".
"When you do not comply with a building approval and a development approval, that's the two fundamental things that hold up the planning and building system," Mr Green said.
"Yes, we take a risk-based approach to the regulatory action that we take. But where there is something as fundamental as not complying with a building approval, where that's the case, we won't hesitate in shutting a project down.
"From a broader community perspective, it's not a desirable outcome from a developer or a builder, whoever, to go and flout the law to that degree - it won't be tolerated."
In addition to shutting down sites during construction, Access Canberra last year issued three rectification orders, which are intended to force a builder to repair defects.
However, the sanctions do not always result in a fix, with builders often appealing the orders in the ACT Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
Mr Green said in other cases, builders deliberately wound up their company to avoid having to rectify shoddy work.
The ACT government is seeking to nullify that tactic, proposing new laws which would make directors of construction companies personally liable for financial penalties and building repairs.
Mr Green said one of the regulator's primary objectives was to "change the behaviour" of those in the industry who flouted the law and then sought to evade punishment.
He sensed that shift was already occurring, partly because of the increased public awareness, and interest, in building quality.
"The increase in consumer awareness means that more people are aware and empowered to ask the questions and have a greater expectation on what ... they will be delivered at the end of the day," Mr Green said.
"There is also reputation risks for builders in this town. Canberra is not a large jurisdiction, so news travels fast.
"Builders are realising that if they could get away with things previously, then that is not the case [anymore]."