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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.

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. 

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