Recent updates on the NSW Government's plan to 'Build Stronger Foundations'

The NSW Government continues to demonstrate its commitment to delivering 'a more robust regulatory framework' for the building industry by recently announcing two significant proposed regulatory reforms for NSW. The NSW Government has also confirmed that Part 6 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, which contains key provisions relating to building regulation and certification, will commence on 1 September 2019.

Have your say on Building Stronger Foundations

On 26 June 2019, NSW Fair Trading launched Have your say on Building Stronger Foundations, seeking feedback from industry stakeholders on the four key reforms arising from the Building Stronger Foundations Discussion Paper. Details of the four key reforms can be found in our previous article here.

Particular issues that the NSW Government seeks feedback on includes:

  • the process for signing off plans, and any variations to plans, and declaring them as compliant with the BCA, including the role of builders
  • the form of insurance, skills and qualifications that should be mandatory for building designers under the registration scheme
  • the types of practitioners who should owe the duty of care and the type of work to which the duty should apply.

The consultation is open until 24 July 2019.

NSW Government's Inquiry into the Regulation of Building Standards, Building Quality and Building Disputes

Another significant public consultation currently underway is the NSW Government's Inquiry into the Regulation of Building Standards, Building Quality and Building Disputes (the Inquiry), submissions for which close on 4 August 2019.

The Public Accountability Committee, which is heading the Inquiry, will be extensively examining, amongst other things:

  • the role of private certification and strata committees' responsiveness to building defects
  • the adequacy of consumer protections for owners and purchasers of new buildings
  • the limitations on building insurance and compensation schemes, as well as the effectiveness and integrity of insurance provisions under the Home Building Act 1989
  • the protections offered for all strata owners in disputes.

The final report is expected to be published by 14 February 2020.

Commencement of Part 6 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EPAA)

By way of background, in 2015, the Independent Review of the Building Professionals Act 2005 (known as the 'Lambert Review') identified areas for improvement in the building regulation and certification system. This included setting out clear requirements in the EPAA that deal with the consistency between construction certificates and development consents, rather than being addressed in the regulation as was previously the case.

Most of the updates to the EPAA commenced on 1 March 2018. The remaining Part 6 will commence on 1 September 2019, which will allow time for the sector to adjust to the numerous regulatory changes that have recently formed, in particular the Building and Development Certifiers Act 2018.

The new Part 6 provisions will, among other things:

  • remove interim occupation certificates. This will not affect the ability to have staged occupation of buildings
  • create a new certificate for subdivision works, separating subdivision from construction works
  • provide powers for principal certifiers to issue directions to quickly act on non-compliant aspects of a development.

It is anticipated that the introduced measures will ensure construction is consistent with the approved plans, enhance usability and raise the level of community confidence.

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.