Transparency, accountability and quality of work are always issues at the forefront of the building and construction industry. In the wake of many high profile instances of defects in newly built developments, these are also the big issues that the NSW Government is tackling in 2020.
Where it began: the Shergold Weir Building Confidence Report
Back tracking to early 2018, the Shergold Weir Building Confidence Report recommended the implementation of a national best practice model. The purpose of this was to enhance public trust in the building and construction industry and strengthen the effective implementation of the National Construction Code. The best practice model comprises 24 recommendations relating to:
- registration and training of practitioners;
- roles and responsibilities of regulators;
- the role of fire authorities;
- integrity of private building surveyors;
- collecting and sharing building information and intelligence;
- adequacy of documentation and record keeping;
- inspection regimes;
- post-construction information management;
- building product safety; and
- how the above recommendations will be implemented.
The NSW Government’s Response: Building Stronger Foundations Discussion Paper
The NSW Government welcomed the Shergold Weir Report and announced that it is committed to improving the building and construction industry through a number of new reforms. In June 2019, the NSW Government presented its Building Stronger Foundations Discussion Paper seeking input from stakeholders on its four key reforms. These reforms are:
- requiring practitioners defined as ‘building designers’ (e.g. architects, engineers) to declare that their building plans/specifications/solutions are compliant with building regulations, including the Building Code of Australia;
- introducing a registration scheme for ‘building designers’ who will be making declarations;
- ensuring that building practitioners owe a duty of care to owners’ corporations and subsequent residential homeowners; and
- appointing a Building Commissioner who is a consolidated regulator for the whole of the NSW building and construction industry.
What to expect in 2020 and beyond
It has been just over a year since the NSW Government committed to implementing regulatory reform and six months since it consulted with stakeholders to shape the direction of these reforms. So what progress has been made in that time?
In October 2019, the first tranche of reforms was introduced with the Design and Building Practitioners Bill 2019 (the “Bill”). The Bill seeks to deliver the NSW Government’s first, second and third key reforms by imposing new obligations on design and building practitioners. The Bill is currently before the NSW Upper House. Make sure to read our next newsletter as we will be providing a detailed explanation of the substance of the Bill.
In relation to fourth key reform, the NSW Government has appointed David Chandler OAM as the NSW Building Commissioner. In January 2020, Mr Chandler announced the Six Reform Pillars, which is the public’s first insight into his plans and implementation strategies for the reforms. The Six Reform Pillars are:
|Building a better regulatory framework
|Implementing legislation and regulation and transforming the focus of the regulator
|Ensure that NSW has a strong customer focused regulatory framework|
|Building rating systems
|Work with ratings agencies, insurers and financiers to assist in better selection of industry participants
|Move away from one-size-fits-all participant recognition and better identify risky players
|Building skills and capabilities
|Improve accreditation of construction related programs through improved standard modules
|Shared minimum learning content and open source resources for all institutions
|Building better procurement methods
|Establish clear standards for engagement and outputs
|Viable risk allocation and performance accountability
|Building a digital future
|Digitise the NSW Building Industry and move away from analogue record keeping
|Shared industry wide platforms that build confidence
|Building the reputation for quality research
|Evidence based approach to accessing and closing the gap via case studies and other research
|Baseline and measurement against our ability to improve confidence in the industry
This article provides a snapshot of the NSW Government’s plans to implement effective and wide ranging regulatory reforms of building and construction industry. This summary demonstrates that there is a significant task ahead in implementing these reforms, so watch this space for future updates.
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