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Edition 3-2009 Master Builders Executive Council President – Ross Barrett Treasurer – Simon Butt Commercial Builders Council Chair – Sam Delorenzo Civil Contractors Council Chair – Peter Middleton Residential Builders Council Chair – Andrew Kerec Professional Consultants Council Chair – Hans Sommer Suppliers and Subcontractors Council Chair – Peter Fairburn Master Builders Management team Executive Director – John Miller Deputy Executive Director – Jerry Howard Director Industrial Relations – Frank Gillingham Director Skills Development & Research – Grant Daly Marketing & Membership Development Manager – David Leitch Master Builders Group Training General Manager – Wendy Tengstrom

Master Builders Association of the ACT 1 Iron Knob St, Fyshwick ACT 2609 PO Box 1211, Fyswick ACT 2609 Tel: (02) 6247 2099 Fax: (02) 6249 8374  Email: Web:


SEASON Around this time of year we start to hear stories about leaking roofs or “rain in the roof ” even though there have been no clouds in sky for several days. These so called “ghost leaks” and tales of rotting out or corrosion of bottom plates are in fact often a result of the building getting wet from the inside. Any moisture control strategy for the building needs to consider three key issues. 1. How to prevent building assemblies from getting wet from the exterior 2. How to prevent building assemblies from getting wet from the interior 3. If building assemblies get wet, or start out wet, how to allow them to dry Much effort and expense often goes into the first of these, however the other two that don’t require much expenditure to get right, are more often than not ignored. A generation of new buildings in most other temperate climates of Europe, North America, Japan and New Zealand have been through a cycle of moisture related problems closely correlated to changes away from more traditional designs, to new construction with higher levels of thermal insulation and air tightness. Although well intentioned, the failure to consider the building envelope holistically created problems by trapping moisture in the structure. A quick search of reports on sick building syndrome, leaky homes, mouldy homes or sick house, reveals an embarrassing history of how the building industry has failed to learn from each others mistakes. Most methods designed to keep the rain and wind out, involve wrapping the building in impermeable materials such as foil, steel, glass or other waterproofing materials. Such materials do a great job of stopping the

water from getting in, but they also prevents vapour from getting out safely. In the winter, these materials in the roof space or your wall cavities can get wet due to condensation. As buildings are increasingly being designed to be air tight, the moist air we create inside the building starts to build up and will naturally diffuse through the internal finishing, also finding its way through the openings and gaps behind power points and light fittings and into the roof space and wall cavities. The moisture laden air moves through the insulation and drops in temperature until reaching the cold surfaces within the roof or walls, releasing the moisture as condensate in the same way as condensate forms on the outside of a cold glass of beer. If there is condensation on the inside of the window during the winter then there is a good chance that condensation is also forming unseen on the inside of walls or roof spaces that have been wrapped in foil. Get to know your vapour barriers from your breather membranes. If insulation is not installed correctly in relation to the position of vapour barriers and breather membranes, mistakes can lead to structural damage and health problems for occupants caused by mould springing up and spreading unnoticed within the roof space and walls, resulting in expensive rectification. To make matters worse there is a danger that moisture can build up in the insulation stopping it from doing the job it was put there

Make sure you know who is responsible for moisture control

 Condensation droplets forming on the underside of foil sarking  Mould evidence on timber trusses due to moisture from condensation

to do in the first place. Fortunately if you are aware of the potential problems, they can easily be avoided at the design stage for a fraction of the cost of fixing a problem once the building is occupied. It is common for building to have a layer of foil sarking, perforated foil sarking or reflective bubble foil type sarking installed behind the external wall claddings, brick veneer or under roof tiles. These vapour barriers should instead be used on the warm side of the insulation (inside for cold and temperate climate zones) much in the same way as foil faced insulation blankets are typically installed under a metal roof. If the foil sarking should not be used on the cold outside of insulation then what can be used to wrap the building. The product you will be using goes under the generic name of ‘breathable membranes’. A breathable membrane on the cold side of the insulation

It is the building designers’ responsibility to consider the condensation risk and ensure that the materials specified and installed in your project will perform throughout the year to avoid the problems of condensation. All AS/NZ4200.1:1994 compliant sarking materials have been tested for their vapour resistance so the supplier or manufacturer should be able to provide you with this test data so that the building designer or engineer can conduct a condensation risk analysis.

does much the same job as conventional sarking such as keeping rain, snow and dust from getting into the roof space and wall cavities, but also lets the moist air escape. Typically breather membranes are textile products that work much in the same was as Gortex fabric and have a very low vapour resistance of less than 0.3MNs/g. These should not be confused with some perforated foil type products labelled as “breathable”, despite having a vapour resistance more than 10 to 70 times the breathable membrane standard set by the National House Building Council in the UK. To allow condensate to drain safely out of the wall to help wall assemblies dry out, common practice overseas is to have a vented cavity between the external cladding and the breather membrane. This concept is increasingly being adopted by good builders in Australia.

For avoiding roof space condensation there are now roofing grade breathable membranes available in Australia that have a long track record from overseas. If however ventilation is your preferred method to prevent roof space condensation, experience and regulations from overseas point towards a combination of continuous eves and ridge ventilation. With increasingly high levels of insulation required in ACT, insulating and ventilating the roof is becoming more complex. If using a foil faced blanket at the roof line be aware that by adding more insulation beneath this at ceiling level could potentially bring the foil below dew point. As a builder it is best to clarify if you or the architect is responsible for considering condensation risk and rectifying future problems. If this responsibility falls to you seek strong assurances from the supplier or manufacturer that the sarking is breathable enough to prevent condensation when used in combination with the insulation specified. A report from the CSIRO highlighting these exact same concerns was published in 2001 and is available for download from their website. For further information on these issues, visit

National Framework for Energy Efficiency The Framework is a collaboration between the Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments. It is under this Framework that the COAG National Strategy for Energy Efficiency was developed. A Memorandum of Understanding between the Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments for the Strategy is now in place. The Framework has three primary objectives: ƒƒ to maximise economic benefits with the increased up-take of energy efficient technologies and processes across the Australian economy; ƒƒ to enhance Australia’s energy efficiency performance to reduce energy demand; and 2

ƒƒ to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

ƒƒ an energy efficiency data project.

Stage One is now mostly complete and Stage Two is underway and includes:

Some of these objectives are underway and it is expected to see others come to the fore in the near future. Note again the referral to green leases. The Government has recognised its responsibility to develop a range of training and information provision measures across all sectors, which is needed for the effectiveness of this program to be achieved.

ƒƒ providing government leadership through green leases; ƒƒ expanding and enhancing minimum energy efficiency performance standards; ƒƒ phase-out of incandescent lighting; ƒƒ development of a national hot-water strategic framework; ƒƒ heating, ventilation and air-conditioning high efficiency systems strategy; and

The Green Building Fund program within AusIndustry is one of the three elements of the $240 million Clean Business Australia initiative. The other elements are the Climate Ready Program and the Retooling for Climate Change Program. The Green Building Fund ($90m over four years) aims to reduce the impact of Australia's built environment on green house gas emissions, by reducing the energy consumed in the operation of existing commercial office buildings.

ABCC Successor Bill Tabled The Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, on 17 June 2009 tabled one further workplace relations bill dealing with the powers of the successor body to the Australian Building and Construction Commission. The bill contains the Government’s formal response to the Wilcox Report. Master Builders will be consulted on the terms of the bill when it is exposed in draft to the Committee on Industrial Legislation where Master Builders is an official appointee. Master Builders is disappointed at the watering down of the powers for the new industry watchdog, the Building Industry Inspectorate. The bill does not match

On–Site Insight Edition 3-2009

Green Building Fund

the Prime Minister’s and Deputy Prime Minister’s public objection to violence and intimidation within the building industry. Master Builders has a number of concerns but two of the key concerns are the additional upfront requirements to consult with the AAT and the Fair Work Ombudsman before proceedings can occur. Master Builders is also very much concerned about the opportunity for unions to seek exemption from the powers of the new industry watchdog powers or switching off. We have questioned why you need this provision as a reward for a good track record of lawful behaviour.

The program provides grants through two streams of activity: Stream A: targets owners of existing commercial office buildings. It supports them to reduce their energy consumption, by retro-fitting and retro-commissioning of these buildings. Grants ranging from $50,000 to $500,000 are available, for up to 50% of project costs. Stream B: targets relevant industry associations. It will provide a limited number of grants to develop the knowledge, skills or capability of those involved in the operation of commercial office buildings, to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions. Grants of up to $200,000 are available, for up to 50% of project costs.

ABCC Benefits the Economy On 7 May 2009 Master Builders released the KPMG Econtech ‘Economic Analysis of Building and Construction Industry Productivity’ report, the third of a series about the positive effects of the Australian Building and Construction Commission on the industry and the economy. Master Builders commissioned the report in order to monitor the effects of workplace reforms. The report identified significant improvement in the industry’s productivity since the introduction of the Australian Building and Construction Commission and other industrial relations reforms. The release of the third report is timely, as the Government is currently considering recommendations contained in

Wilcox Report into the fate of the ABCC and its transition to a specialist division of the Fair Work Ombudsman from 1 February 2010. The report’s economic modelling estimates a number of positive economic impacts due to the ABCC’s activities and industrial relations reforms: ƒƒ GDP is 1.5% higher than it otherwise would be. ƒƒ CPI is 1.2% lower than it otherwise would be. ƒƒ Improved consumer living standards are reflected in an annual economic welfare gain of $5.5 billion.

KPMG Econtech also interviewed representatives from four major construction companies. These interviews reported further benefits including: ƒƒ A significant reduction in the number of days lost to industrial action. ƒƒ Improved management of occupational health and safety issues and a reduction in their misuse for industrial purposes. ƒƒ Productivity gains from improved rostering flexibility.


Construction in


Prone Areas Standards Australia has now published AS 3959-2009 “Construction of Buildings in Bushfire Prone Areas” and it has already been adopted by Victoria and the ACT. It is understood that it will be adopted in the other States and Territorys, along with the 2009 version of the Building Code of Australia (BCA). A new Standards Committee has been formed to progress the outstanding work left incomplete and out of this recent edition of the standard. Most of the previous members, like Master Builders, are again members of the Committee (although some individuals have changed) and some new organisations have become members. The new Committee had its first meeting on 23 April 2009. Work has already begun on Amendment No.1 which is a corrections amendment and so has no need to go out for Public Comment or Ballot. Technical Amendments will follow, with the more complex issues carrying over to the next edition of AS 3959. Added to these issues will be input arising directly from the February bushfires in Victoria, input from the findings of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission and input arising from on-going research into bushfires generally. To give an idea of the scope of work involved in the technical issues, some of the items being examined are Refuges, Fuel Loads, Roof Types, Aperture Sizes, Sub-Floor Protection, Alternate Construction Types, Draught Excluders, Sarking, Glazed Elements and others. If you require futhre information regarding bushfire planning in the ACT reffer to the Planning for Bushfire Risk Mitigation General Code found on the ACT Legislation Register website under the Territory plan (www.

First Home Buyers Boost Approvals Another solid increase in dwelling approvals is further evidence that stimulus measures are working to spark a housing recovery. This important forward indicator has unambiguously turned positive which augers well for future activity as an upswing becomes firmly entrenched. Later this year the recovery in dwelling approvals will translate into increased commencements and ultimately lead to an improvement in residential building activity next year. The latest figures highlight the importance of the first home owners ‘boost’ scheme, particularly for new homes, and the wisdom of the Government’s decision to maintain it beyond 30 June. With momentum in the housing sector so vital to Australia’s economic prospects, signs of a pick up in approvals — particularly in NSW — are a cause for optimism. Given the level of underbuilding, a recovery is well and truly overdue, with only 130,000 dwelling starts expected in 2008/09 — a 17 per cent decline on the previous year.


The Federal Safety Commissioner (FSC) has announced that, from 1 July 2009, companies will be able to apply for reaccreditation under the Australian Government Building and Construction OHS Accreditation Scheme (the Scheme). Under the Scheme, only accredited companies can contract for Governmentfunded building work over certain thresholds. Companies can become accredited for up to three years. At the end of this period, companies need to reapply for accreditation in order to stay accredited under the Scheme – this is known as ‘reaccreditation’.

Reaccreditation involves two phases: a desktop assessment and an onsite audit. For the desktop assessment component, companies need to provide a copy of their AS4801 certificate and submit an application against all Scheme criteria. Companies are also assessed on their past performance and this assessment then determines whether a company requires a one or two day onsite audit. Reaccreditation will also be used by the FSC as an opportunity to run a targeted hazard campaign on mobile plant and equipment – one of the greatest causes of injury in the industry. Mobile plant and equipment will

feature as a focus of the reaccreditation auditing process. Master Builders understands that the FSC will not charge companies a fee for reaccreditation. This is a win for Master Builders lobbying on this issue. More information on reaccreditation, including a fact sheet and frequently asked questions is available on the FSC web site through the following web address – www. Reaccreditation/

On–Site Insight Edition 3-2009

Federal Safety Commissioner – Re-accreditation

Master Builders

Skills Centre Building Fund Support A Worthy Cause To Develop And Enhance Skills Training In Our Industry Master Builders Skills Centre Building Fund has been established and will be used exclusively for providing money to non-profit organisations for the acquisition, construction or maintenance of a building or buildings to be used as a School or Schools. The Trustee is seeking financial contributions and other gifts for the Building Fund from members of Master Builders and members of the public to achieve the objectives of the Fund.

and any other industry as the Trustee may decide from time to time. The income and property of the Building Fund will be derived from gifts of money or property, deductible contributions made by the public to a fundraising event and money received by the Trustees because of those gifts and deductible contributions.

Members of Master Builders Association of the ACT or the public wishing to make contribution to Master Builder Skills Centre Building Fund can contact Master Builders Deputy Executive Director – Jerry Howard on 02 6247 2099

The primary objectives of the Fund are to purchase land and pay for construction where there are definite plans to construct a building to be used as a school by non-profit organisations for the training of apprentices and others in the building and construction industry


Don’t be a


Ensure your windows comply Builders and building certifiers ensure that installed windows comply with the Building Code of Australia

The following assemblies, if located in an external wall of a building, are required to comply with AS 2047: ƒƒ Sliding doors with a frame ƒƒ Adjustable louvers ƒƒ Shop fronts ƒƒ Window walls with one-piece framing ƒƒ All windows except for: »» all glazed assemblies not in an external wall »» hinged doors, including French doors and bi-fold doors »» revolving doors »» sliding doors without a frame »» glazing used in balustrades and sloping overhead glazing

I have recently visited a number of residential building sites where imported windows have been installed and there is no evidence to suggest that these windows comply with AS 2047 1999, Windows in Buildings - Selection and Installation. AS 2047 is quite specific in defining the means of assessing the performance of windows.

Complying with the BCA and AS 2047 There are three prime areas of responsibility identified in the process of specifying, supplying and installing windows to comply with these requirements: ƒƒ Firstly, the wind classification or loading and, therefore, the appropriate window ratings applicable to the building, must be provided to the builder and certifier by the designer. This information must also be provided to the manufacturer when the windows are ordered.

ƒƒ Secondly, the window manufacturer must be able to certify that the windows supplied will meet the specified performance. Such certification must be capable of being verified by test results, assurance and expert evaluation as applicable. ƒƒ And thirdly, the builder must ensure that the windows, as supplied, are labelled or certified to the specified ratings and that the windows are fixed in accordance with recognised good building practice and follow up the manufacturer's window installation instructions.

Which windows need to be tested to AS 2047? The Building Code of Australia identifies which glazed assemblies need to comply with AS 2047 - Windows in Buildings - Installation and which need to comply with AS 1288 Glass in Buildings – Installation.

»» skylights, roof lights and windows in other than the vertical plane »» those containing fixed louvers »» windows constructed onsite and architectural one-off windows »» second-hand, re-used, recycled and replacement windows »» heritage windows Builders, please ensure that your windows comply with the Building Code of Australia. It is too late after they have been installed and the cost implications for you to replace can be enormous. Builders and designers should also refer to the Window Energy Rating Scheme ( to satisfy themselves regarding the performance data of selected windows. Jerry Howard – Master Builders, Deputy Executive Director

New building industry awards unveiled On 8 May 2009 the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, the Hon Julia Gillard, made a number of changes to the Award Modernisation Request, including advising the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) to permit current rosters in remote locations to continue, not to exclude from award safety net conditions any worker earning less than $100,000 and to permit industry specific redundancy schemes. The Minister’s amended request has clarified that exemption clauses in modern awards should not exempt anyone from the safety net other than high-income earners (those earning more than $100,000


indexed from August 2007). The amended Request says the AIRC should include terms in modern awards that “as far as possible” allow current rostering arrangements to continue for work in remote locations. Among a raft of other changes, the Minister’s amended Request clarified that the intention of award modernisation was to continue existing specific exemptions to redundancy pay obligations where the AIRC deemed it appropriate. “For this reason, the Fair Work Act was amended to allow a modern award to create an exception to the redundancy NES,” she said. The following new specific provision of the Request was added:

33AAA Where an industry has developed specific arrangements for termination and redundancy to reflect the way the industry operates, the Commission may specify in a modern award that section 119 of the NES does not apply in those circumstances. She flagged the Government’s intention to make detailed submissions to the award transitional provisions proceedings that are being held by the AIRC between 29 May to 18 July. Master Builders is to make a submission to the AIRC on transitional arrangements.


l-o-n-g-e-r term returns

All superannuation funds are to be required to prominently disclose five and ten year returns in their periodic statements to members. The new Government requirement will enable superannuation funds to highlight longer term investment returns rather than recent negative returns. Investment analysts argue this is more appropriate because superannuation is a longer-term investment. However it also helps reduce the focus on recent weak returns.

Under the new rules, funds will also be able to use a website as the preferred method for delivering their annual report; and where a superannuation fund member has electronic access to personal fund information and has given permission, funds will no longer be required to provide a written or an electronic member statement.

Energy Efficiency

Changes to the

BCA Following the Council of Australian Governments meeting on 30 April and their call for more stringent requirements in buildings, the Australian Building Codes Board has produced a new Building Code of Australia (BCA) 2010 public comment draft. This was posted on their website ( last week.

On–Site Insight Edition 3-2009

Superannuation statements

All superannuation funds will be required to prominently disclose five and ten year returns in periodic member statements. The new disclosure rules take effect immediately. Superannuation and Corporate Law Minister Senator Nick Sherry said funds would be required to include five year returns with their 2008-09 statements and both five and ten year returns in subsequent statements. Because of the short notice, the five year return for 2008-09 may be provided by an insert sent to members with their periodic statement.

Master Builders would welcome any comment from members by mid-July. The current call is for comment on the technical aspects only. A Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) will be released in September and comments on the costs, benefits and other impacts of the proposed changes should be made on that document. The RIS will compare a software approach to design compared with the prescriptive alternative. Housing affordability will be a key consideration. The time-line is very short to have the new requirements included in BCA 2010. This would require final sign-off in December 2009. The BCA is normally amended annually and where adopted, the amendment comes into force on 1 May of the particular year. However, most States and Territories have the means to change the adoption date or have transitional arrangements in their building law should they wish.


Important Dates 2 July 2009

Alcohol and Other Drugs in the Workplace. An information session with industry experts from the Australian Federal Police, Oz Help Foundation and Safenet Compliance & Training. 27 August 2009

CCF Earth Awards. The CCF Earth Awards have the specific aim of recognising and rewarding Excellence in Civil Construction. 22 – 23 September 2009

Business in Focus Month – Training and Professional Development Workshops. Master Builders will be holding a series of workshops for our members to provide information on relevant hot topics such as building contracts, business structures, OH&S, contractor management, energy rating systems, condensation, and more. 9 October 2009

Paid Parental Leave in 2011 On 10 May 2009, the Government announced that it would be implementing a paid parental leave (PPL) scheme to commence on 1 January 2011. The Government-funded scheme will provide the primary carer with 18 weeks post-natal leave, paid at the adult federal minimum wage (currently $543.78 per week). The scheme is said to be closely based on

the Productivity Commission’s (PC) yet to be released final report on PPL. The Government has confirmed that employers will not be required to pay superannuation on PPL payments. The exact details of the scheme or PC report are not yet public, but the details will be monitored to assess any cost impact on employers.

Master Builders Annual Dinner. providing the opportunity for members to network with fellow industry members. Also provides an annual forum for the industry to take stock of its performance and to consider the outlook for the coming year. 5 – 7 November 2009

National Conference. The theme of our conference is “Building a sustainable industry”. The conference sessions will focus on factors which will continue to impact on businesses into the future – the economy, climate change and workplace relations. For more information about any of the above events please contact the Master Builders Events Coordinator Hayley Symons on 02 6175 5968.

ACT privATe SeCTor Building ACTiviTy $200


















The above graph and table below summarise private sector building activity for the various building sectors in the ACT over the past 12 moths. The values for each month are depicted in millions of dollars.


Jun-08 6.21 20.71 3.16 0.95 36.69

Jul-08 20.34 116.18 3.52 7.18 37.31

Aug-08 2.86 9.40 1.24 5.05 27.67

Sep-08 4.67 196.82 2.40 37.15 24.93

Oct-08 4.89 125.86 1.85 50.13 20.46

Nov-08 4.19 28.18 2.03 12.72 23.40

Dec-08 2.79 21.94 1.60 11.77 18.57

Jan-09 2.03 15.63 1.19 3.56 15.40

Feb-09 4.74 27.61 1.79 4.80 27.15

Mar-09 3.87 10.06 1.52 13.15 40.64

Apr-09 3.15 35.59 1.48 0.94 58.64

May-09 4.12 27.49 1.34 0.00 20.50


Additions and Alterations (Residential) Commercial Building Work Garages, Pools, Decks and Similar Structures Multi Unit New Homes

Edition 3 - 2009  

Newsletter, Master Builders

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