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‘DNA’ records to keep tabs on dodgy developers

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New apartment buildings in NSW – and possibly the rest of Australia –  will soon have a “digital DNA” that will allow prospective purchasers, incoming  owners, strata professionals and government inspectors to immediately identify their key elements.

The new Building Assurance Solution (BAS) will make it easier to track defective products and the dodgy developers who use them, the same way police use DNA and fingerprints to identify criminals.

Under a pilot program announced last week, new developments will have their developers, architects and engineers recorded, as well as the materials used, the infrastructure installed and the builders who did the work.

This will create “a digital DNA that will establish a trustworthy rating for individual buildings, so they can be compared like-for-like,” says Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation Kevin Anderson.

Announcing a collaboration with accounting giants KPMG, the plan is to “develop a world-first construction assurance tool, utilising multiple data points to help Fair Trading and the insurance industry to access a residential building’s quality and compliance with construction standards.”

The BAS will bring together the products and designs certificates of compliance for each building to drive transparency and lift standards in the construction industry, according to a press release issued last week.

“We expect this to be a genuinely world-leading piece of work that will help measure the quality and insurability of buildings by identifying which buildings are trustworthy, from measuring compliance with design and construction standards to traceability of materials all the way back to the manufacturer.” Mr Anderson said.

“With this information, aspiring homeowners will be able to make better decisions about what could be the most significant purchase in their life, before they buy.”

Mr Anderson said the BAS tool will also allow the regulator to easily identify and respond to defective products and take action against the riskiest practitioners by knowing which buildings they have worked on.

“This tool will show us what products were used, who made them, what testing certifications are held and who installed and certified building work. Practitioners who build and design in NSW will now have a digital fingerprint that will attach to every project they have worked on,” Mr Anderson said.

Mr Anderson said the tool will allow insurers, for the first time, to easily compare buildings so they can better price insurance for buildings and the practitioners who design and construct them.

“The Buliding Assurance Solution, combined with the requirement for designers and builders to lodge their designs electronically and declare they comply with the building code, will help give insurers confidence to return to the market.”

The BAS tool will be implemented as part of the NSW Project Remediate program to create a single source of truth for replacement façade systems. Concurrently, KPMG will work with private sector companies like Mirvac to demonstrate the application of the BAS tool to their new projects.

And it could form a template for the whole of Australia.

“We intend to reach out to other jurisdictions to collaborate on this project,” Mr Anderson said. “Ultimately this tool will help establish NSW as the best place to run a trustworthy construction business, giving the cowboys nowhere to hide and consumers confidence  they’re buying an apartment that will stand the test of time.”

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