James Madison, the fourth president of the United States of America, once said “If men were angels, no government would be necessary”. Men of course are not angels and nor are private building certifiers.
With the delegation of traditional governmental functions to private building certifiers, it has more than occasionally become quite difficult to answer a question as simple as “Who built this apartment block?”
The local government authority does not know and refers the enquirer to the responsible certifier. When approached, the certifier then says, “I’ll need to get the permission of [INSERT NAME OF BUILDER/DEVELOPER/PRIMATE], who engaged me to do this work, to give you this information”.
This simply and dramatically reveals how certifiers perceive their role and to whom they owe a duty and is of course extraordinary given the obligation of the certifier to act independently.
This is a small but telling example of how the private certification system does not result in the proper oversight of building standards. Surely, at the very least, local government authorities should be aware of what builders are completing work in their areas.