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Home is where the heart(ache) is: building a regulatory regime for residential construction which more effectively meets community expectations for occupant health and safety

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

This thesis examines the ability of legal regulation to address the threat posed by residential construction defects to the health and safety of dwelling occupants. It focuses on the experience in England and the Australian state of Victoria. In these jurisdictions, defects are endemic and their consequences occasionally catastrophic. 
The thesis uses regulatory theory – especially, the pluralist perspectives of ‘responsive’ and ‘smart’ regulatory scholarship – as the touchstone for its analysis. This analysis allows the thesis to make several novel contributions to the ongoing consideration of the vital societal problem posed by residential construction defects. These include, principally, the thesis’s establishment of a regulatory goal that dwellings protect occupants’ health and safety during the life of the building, and its critique of the effectiveness of the existing regulatory regimes in England and Victoria in achieving that goal. 
The thesis synthesises community expectations in order to identify this regulatory goal. It proposes that an effective regulatory regime to achieve this goal should incorporate six elements: information, responsibility, standards-setting, competence, quality assurance, and rectification. It advocates deployment of a pluralist mix of tools, appropriate to the jurisdiction, in order for those elements to operate effectively within the regime. The thesis also analyses the regulatory regimes in England and Victoria, as they stood at 31 December 2018 (including reforms proposed to those regimes as at that date). It concludes that, whilst these regimes are broadly aligned with achievement of the regulatory goal, further reforms are necessary in order to entrench an appropriately-robust commitment to the paramountcy of the goal amongst policy-makers, the construction industry, and the broader community.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Award date1 Oct 2019

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