Draft building legislation targets concerns about apartment buildings

David Chandler OAM, NSW Building Commissioner, invites the community to have their say on proposed laws to encourage building professionals to meet or exceed accepted design and building standards to reduce the risk of defects.

Beautiful blue sky during sunrise above the city of Sydney Australia

By David Chandler, NSW Building Commissioner

This week I’d like to spread the word about the draft building reform legislation that’s out for public consultation and encourage building professionals and consumers to comment. This is the next milestone to be reached as part of the transformation of the building industry.

The Design and Building Practitioners Bill 2019 lays the foundations for the major reforms the NSW Government committed to in response to the Building Confidence report by Professor Peter Shergold AC & Bronwyn Weir and addresses the most pressing concerns people have about the design and construction standards of multi-unit and multi-storey apartments.

The draft legislation is the result of a collaborative effort by policy experts within government and myself working closely with Bronwyn Weir, to ensure we meet recommendations in the report. I’ve applied a first-hand building experience lens to this work. I hope that, with our combined work, the legislation will be meaningful, usable and easy for members of our industry to navigate and comply. This Bill is part of the solution to weed the dodgy players out, keep the good players in and restore consumer confidence.

The draft Bill encourages building professionals to meet or exceed accepted design and building standards to reduce the risk of defects.

Firstly, building designers and other building practitioners will need to meet certain professional criteria to be registered.

They will also need to declare that their designs and constructions comply with the Building Code of Australia’s standards.

They will also have a duty of care to current and future building owners and must take reasonable steps to prevent expensive defects. If they fail in their duty of care, they will be liable to pay for the repair bill.

The NSW Government wants to finalise the Bill and introduce it to Parliament this year.

Now is the opportunity for you to have your say.

I want to encourage you – particularly if you’re a building professional or a residential consumer – to be part of the conversation.

You can find out more about the draft Bill and how to make a submission on the NSW Fair Trading consultation page. The closing date for submissions is 16 October 2019.

The draft Bill is an important step to address the greatest area of concern in the building and construction industry, however there is plenty more that we will be looking at as we move through the reform process.

If you have a view on certifiers, I’d also encourage you to make a submission on the draft Building and Development Certifiers Regulation 2019 by 28 October 2019.

The draft regulation seeks to allow non-government organisations to administer accreditation schemes, clarify all certifiers’ roles, responsibilities and professional standards, improve consumer protections and beef-up compliance and enforcement.

Legislation is just part of the picture of how to make the building industry better for consumers.

Everyone in the industry has a role to play in delivering good customer service, building compliant buildings and lifting consumer confidence.

Feel free to make a submission on the draft legislation or drop me a line. I’m interested in your thoughts, your ideas or your concerns. You can contact me via the forms below.

Engage with the Commissioner

Use this contact form if you have experience dealing with buildings that have substantial defects relating to structure, waterproofing, fire rating and enclosure: The Building Commissioner is keen to hear your perspective.

Use this contribution form if you would like to make a contribution towards creating a more confident, customer-facing construction industry. The Building Commissioner is keen to hear your suggestions.

Advice and support

These agencies provide a range of support and advice services to assist with building related matters.

NSW Fair Trading

Fair Trading provides services and advice for purchasers, renters and owners regarding home building complaints

There is also specific assistance for:

Mascot Towers assistance package

Opal Tower information for residents and landlords

SafeWork

To notify an incident involving serious injury, illness, death or a dangerous incident in a building site call SafeWork on 13 10 50 immediately.

For more information, visit SafeWork

Home building compensation scheme

Home building compensation (HBC) cover – formerly known as home warranty insurance – is an important consumer protection for homeowners in NSW.

It helps homeowners if their builder is unable to complete building work or fix defects because they have become insolvent, died, disappeared or had their licence suspended for failing to comply with a money order made by a court or the tribunal in favour of the home owner.

For more information, visit the State Insurance Regulatory Authority

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