Design and Building Practitioners Bill

8 June 2020

On 3 June 2020, the NSW Design and Building Practitioners Bill 2019 successfully passed through Parliament.

The Design and Building Practitioners Bill is the NSW Government’s response to the recommendations of the 2018 Shergold-Weir Report and a number of troubling high-profile cases in recent years, including the Opal and Mascot towers in Sydney. The new legislation aims to reinstate the public’s confidence in the quality of apartment buildings in NSW.

The bill will require that all parties involved in the design and building process be sufficiently qualified and accountable. This includes the requirement of professional engineers involved in the building industry to be registered. Currently only architects are registered with compulsory PI insurance and CPD requirement.

The bill also includes protection for apartment owners by requiring duty of care by all people who carry out construction work. This duty of care applies retrospectively to 10 years.

The Residential Apartment Buildings (Compliance and Enforcement) Bill 2020 also passed through the NSW Parliament, which gives the Building Commissioner wide-ranging powers of investigation and enforcement when it comes to the construction of apartment buildings in the state.

The NSW government appointed its first Building Commissioner David Chandler in August 2019. The role of the Commissioner is to implement all of the changes and ensure compliance with the bill. Non compliance can carry a penalty of up to $220,000 and two years jail.

The Construct NSW strategy involves a six-pillar workplan to lift standards and accountability in the building sector, including the following:

  1. Customer focused regulatory framework
  2. Rating system to provide greater information transparency
  3. Lifting skills and capabilities
  4. Strengthening contracts and standards
  5. Using digital platforms to drive enhanced accountability
  6. Using data and research to deliver continual improvement

The Commissioner’s power in relation to the Residential Apartment Buildings bill will be enforceable from 1 September 2020. Changes related to the Design and Building Practitioners Bill will apply from 1 July 2021.