The latest legislative changes in the construction industry took effect starting on July 1st, 2021. Therefore, Building Regulations NSW is now enriched with the Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 and Residential Apartment Buildings Act 2020, which also became effective on July 1st, 2021. We analysed the possible effects of the legislation on the construction industry in NSW, and here are our remarks.
Building regulation is a set of mandatory standards for the design and construction of buildings. The goal of the standards is to make sure the buildings are safe for people and fully operational.
According to the NSW building commissioner David Chandler, the new legislative act will put an end to not-so-favourable practices in the construction industry in NSW. It will discourage builders, certifiers, and developers from not delivering good projects, impacting the overall quality of residential building projects in NSW. He reiterated that the previous building regulations in NSW were not adequate to stop the bad practices in the construction industry.
The customer’s confidence in the residential building sector was low due to the epic construction failures with Opal Tower and the Mascot Towers. The goal of the legislation was to put an end to shady practices in the industry, increase the quality of residential buildings and reduce the construction risk and defect costs on customers. Therefore, a new NSW building code for residential buildings was more than needed.
There are two main focuses when it comes to the legislative change that took effect in July 2021. The first is about enabling inspection mechanisms to make serial offenders accountable, and the second one defines the mandatory minimum design documentation that is required before any development work is done.
The essence of the new NSW building regulations is that it means putting additional obligations and required standards upon design practitioners and builders by imposing a new Duty of Care. It means that every entity that carries out construction work should perform its business with reasonable care to avoid economic loss caused by construction work, or is related to a building that was subject to construction work.
The new Duty of Care is designed to benefit the owners of the land and protect them from economic loss caused by defects arising from construction work, or in or related to a building where the work is done. The new Duty of Care relates to the construction of a building, alterations or additions, repair or renovation work, preparation of designs for building work, manufacture, or supply of building products, and supervising and construction project management.
The affected parties of these regulatory changes are builders, developers, and certifiers, with the construction industry watchdog aiming to provide more transparency and security for prospective buyers in the residential building sector.
The National Construction Code (NCC) defines nationwide technical requirements for design, construction, and performance in the construction industry, including buildings and plumbing and drainage systems. It includes the Building Code of Australia and the Plumbing Code of Australia.
NCC or National Construction Code of Australia is the main national regulatory code for the construction industry, and it’s the updated version of BCA ( Building Code of Australia) which means that NCC replaced BCA in 2011.
The legislative change affects only Class 2 buildings and mixed-use buildings with a Class 2 part, and the regulative applies to the construction, alteration, addition, repair, renovation, or protective treatment of those buildings.
All practitioners who want to continue with their projects with Class 2 and mixed buildings need to register from 1 July 2021 through the NSW Planning Portal. Builders also must hold a license under the Home Building Act 1989 and have at least 5 years of practical experience in this area.
Regulated Designs must be in line with the latest construction standards before any construction work begins on-site. Defining minimum requirements for the design quality of residential buildings will minimise the risk of design defects. The new act requires that all design work of critical elements of the building should be completed before construction begins.
Engineers and designers who work on 2 class buildings must be insured in accordance with the regulations. However, the application of the insurance provisions is deferred up to July 2023.
Failure to comply with the new building code for residential buildings results in imposed fines, or the occupation certificate being withheld. The fines can be severe and go up to $100,000 and beyond if there are severe safety issues on site that can cause injuries or even death.
After an impressive career in the construction sector, David Chandler became an NSW Building Commissioner in 2019 and will remain in his role until August 2023.
The main focus of the construction industry in 2023 will be sustainability, as the target is to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Therefore, the government has introduced a State Environmental Planning Policy which will start on 1 October 2023.
The goal of the policy is to make construction industry more sustainable, with less negative impact on environment, with promoting recycling practices whenever possible.
Have any concerns? With more than 20 years of experience, we’re ready to demystify any doubts and concerns regarding new building regulations and give you our expert advice regarding building consultations.