Dodgy developers and shonky certifiers face even tougher times ahead as NSW Fair Trading uses its massive databases to target serial miscreants and force them to fix their defects before they can sell their apartments.
The move follows reports that almost one-third of the defective apartment buildings in NSW have been okayed by only six certifiers.
Denying developers certificates of occupation is the most powerful weapon in Building Commissioner David Chandler’s armoury when it comes to forcing developers and their hand-picked certifiers to toe the line.
Without a certificate of occupation the developers can’t legally complete the sale of their units and would have to return deposits to prospective buyers.
Now, by collating existing information on defective buildings and the professionals who certified them as being OK, Fair Trading and reverse engineers the process and spotlight the buildings that the high-risk certifiers are currently working on, send their teams of surveyors and engineers in, and demand defects be dealt with before the buildings are completed.
Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson announced this week that his department has launched a “data-led audit regime to target the state’s high risk building certifiers and triple the number of buildings to come under scrutiny by the building regulator.”
He explained that through the NSW Government’s building reforms, the regulator is now equipped with powerful digital tools that can analyse more than 170 million lines of data to determine the worst performing certifiers and the residential apartment buildings they are working on.
“This data-led approach, combined with our new legislated powers, allows us to zero in on the worst players in the industry and audit the projects they are working on,” Mr Anderson said.
“If an audit identifies potentially defective or non-compliant building work we will step in immediately to issue rectification or stop work orders to protect consumers before they move in.”
This new initiative is intended to complement the occupation certificate audits and inspections already focussing on residential apartment buildings under construction, and is expected to more than triple the number of buildings that receive an audit from the regulator.
“The pre-Occupational Certificate audit regime already in place is targeting around 50 site-based audits every six months,” Mr Anderson said. “Through these new audits we expect to be able to audit an additional 100 to 150 buildings every six months, more than tripling the regulator’s compliance and enforcement efforts on residential apartment buildings.
“This new approach is a big step in our commitment to cleaning up the industry. My message to those who have been breaching the rules is that the days of hiding in the shadows, cutting corners and taking consumers for a ride are ending.
“We will find and investigate every building these high-risk certifiers touch and put every decision they make under the microscope.”
A Fair Trading press release added that the approach is the next phase in shifting the focus from investigating problems in existing buildings to identifying and eliminating them before they go to market.