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Strong foundations set for building reform

Published: 23 October 2019
Released by: Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation

The NSW Government continues to deliver on its promised suite of reforms to the building and construction industry, with the introduction of the Design and Building Practitioners Bill 2019 to the NSW Parliament today.

Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said the Bill outlines key accountabilities of design and building practitioners for the first time, and aims to improve the quality and integrity of vital design documentation, relied upon by construction professionals and directly addresses the key recommendations of the Building Confidence Report.

“The introduction of this Bill marks a monumental step in the reform of the building and construction industry to improve the transparency, accountability and quality of work within the sector,” Mr Anderson said.

“People should feel confident they can enter the housing market in NSW, knowing their home has been designed and built in accordance with the Building Code of Australia, which is what this Bill is designed to do.

“The NSW Government aims to lead the nation on building reforms and ultimately deliver a framework that is considered among the best in the global construction industry, which is why we will develop comprehensive regulations in direct consultation with stakeholders following the passage of the Bill.”

Reforms in the Design and Building Practitioners Bill 2019 include:

  • The introduction of categories of ‘regulated designs’, which ensures certain designs, including designs for key building elements including fire safety systems, structural elements and waterproofing are properly documented and only undertaken by registered professionals;
  • A requirement to issue a legally binding compliance declaration, stating compliance with the Building Code of Australia for design practitioners who prepare regulated designs;
  • A requirement for building practitioners to obtain, rely upon and build in accordance with declared designs, and issue a legally binding compliance declaration, stating that the final building, including any variations comply with the Building Code of Australia;
  • A new registration scheme for any practitioner who intends on making a compliance declaration including builders and designers such as engineers and architects;
  • Enhanced protections for residential homeowners by clarifying that a duty of care is owed by person who carry out construction work, making it easier to bring civil claim for damages.

Mr Anderson said the Bill will also provide strong new powers to allow the NSW Building Commissioner including the ability to compel and seize documentation and information, access building sites and order building work to stop. The Bill also allows for the prevention of the issuance of an occupancy certificate or registration of a strata scheme if serious breaches are believed to have occurred.

Failure to comply with the new laws could result in fines up to $330,000 and the possibility of up to two years imprisonment.

“We are sending a clear message to industry and the wider community that things must change. Let there be no misunderstanding of the NSW Government’s intention to bring confidence back to the high-rise apartment market in NSW,” Mr Anderson said.

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