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Plans released for the future of building and construction in NSW

Published: 30 January 2020

Under plans released by the NSW Government recently, building industry professionals will be subject to a new ratings system, while new powers for the building regulator would prevent occupation certificates from being issued on suspect developments. 

The new rating system will help the building regulator determine who the risky players are in the industry and prevent dodgy apartments from being sold to unexpecting buyers. 

The changes form part of the NSW Building Commissioner’s work plan which, for the first time, outlines publicly how the government plans to overhaul the building and construction industry in NSW under Six Reform Pillars.

Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation Kevin Anderson said the reforms will improve transparency, accountability and quality of work within the industry.

“These reforms are a complete game changer for consumers, the government and the building industry as a whole,” Mr Anderson said.

“Simply put, customers need better built buildings, and our reforms will deliver that. Anyone who doesn’t want to get on board with that concept will get left behind.”

The six reform pillars cover legislation and regulations changes, ratings systems, improving skills within the industry, ensuring contracts help meet standards, digitising the industry and establishing NSW as a leader in modern construction methods.

NSW Building Commissioner, David Chandler said the old days of being reactionary to problems in the industry can’t continue.

“The government has a great deal of resources available, including inspectors, which is why we need to make sure we’re using those resources in the best way possible to protect consumers from major defects,” Mr Chandler said.

Mr Anderson said passing the Design and Building Practitioners Bill, which is currently held up in the NSW Upper House, is crucial to the progression of building reforms.

“We’re asking the opposition and the cross bench to put consumers ahead of politics and let us get on with the building reforms, every day these reforms are delayed is another day homeowners go without the necessary protections,” Mr Anderson said.

The NSW Upper House will resume debate on the Design and Building Practitioners Bill in the last week of February.

To help streamline the reform process, the government has established six specialised work streams, or ‘Pillars’ to ensure people with specialised knowledge and skills in each of the reform areas can remain focussed on their expertise.

It also means that several projects can be worked on simultaneously to expedite the delivery of the reforms.

The Six Reform Pillars will not be driven by government alone. Each of the Pillars will be underpinned by its own working group, made up of professionals with lived knowledge and experience in the subject before them.

To maximise the impact of the reforms, we need to ensure that the right people are at the table when decisions are made.

The Six Reform Pillars are further explained below.

  1. Building a better regulatory framework – Implementing legislation and regulation and transforming the office of the regulator.
  2. Building rating system – Work with ratings agencies, insurers and financiers to assist in better selection of building industry participants.
  3. Building skills and capabilities – Improve accreditation of construction related programs through improved standard modules.
  4. Building better procurement models – Establish clear standards for engagement and outputs, including viable risk allocation and performance accountability.
  5. Building a digital future – Digitalise the NSW building industry and move away from analogue record keeping.
  6. Building a reputation for quality research – Evidence-based approach to accessing and closing the gap via case studies and other research.