NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler can finally get on with cleaning out the apartment building industry, with the NSW government passing two key pieces of legislation this week.
His planned reforms, slowed by delays in passing the necessary legislation, can now go ahead with the approval of two Bills in parliament this week.
“The laws will give my team a broad range of powers, including the ability to issue stop work orders, prevent strata plan registration and occupation certificates [for non-compliant buildings], and to issue hefty fines for those doing the wrong thing,” he said in a Press release.
“Combined, these two Bills put the interests of consumers first and show that the Government is serious about lifting the standard of work across the building and construction sector.”
One of the new laws, the Design and Building Practitioners Bill 2019 sets new standards of building and design while the second, the Residential Apartment Buildings (Compliance and Enforcement Powers) Bill 2020, provides the means to enforce them.
A press release from the Better Regulation Ministry said the new laws boosted “the Building Commissioner’s power to stop dodgy builders and developers in their tracks.”
Mr Chandler outlined his strategies, mainly involving identifying shoddy builders and phoenix fraudsters and cheats, as well as instituting on-site checks on building standards, in an exclusive interview with Flat Chat earlier this year.
He will lead the implementation of both Bills, deploying an “expert team of up to 60 new staff who will undertake increased investigation, audit and compliance activities.” Part of the plan is to deny occupation certificates if the buildings aren’t up to scratch – meaning the sales of the units can’t be completed.
Meanwhile there’s good news for the owners of buildings less than 10 years old, as well as purchasers of new units.
“Owners of apartment buildings with defects will benefit immediately from the statutory duty of care that applies to all new buildings and those less than ten years old,” says Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson.
Previously, a lack of continuing duty of care meant that owners in defective buildings couldn’t sue the builders because their (the builders’) duty of care was to the developers who were often long gone by the time the defects were discovered or opursued.
Mr Chandler was appointed last year to instigate reforms that would help improve the reputation of the NSW apartment building industry which was already poor but left in tatters after a series of high-profile scandals like the Opal and Mascot towers failures
Mr Anderson said this weeks’ legislative reforms were the start of a new era in the design and construction of buildings in NSW and that the State government had delivered on its promise to restore public confidence in the building industry.
“The NSW Government has a no nonsense approach to achieving and maintaining best practice regulation across all of the industries that it regulates, and the building sector is no exception,” he added.
“This Bill is all about putting consumers first by giving those entering the property market peace of mind that their home will be expertly designed and built in compliance with the Australian Building Codes.”
The Minister said the Bill, developed through extensive consultation with industry stakeholders and the public, will ensure NSW has a leading system of design and building regulation that delivers well-constructed buildings into the future.
“The passing of the Bill is a huge step forward in the rebuilding the construction sector into a transparent, accountable, customer-centric industry that consumers deserve,” Mr Anderson said.