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New Building Legislation and Retrospective Laws Deter Dodgy Builders

New legislation has been passed in the NSW that aims to deter dodgy builders from cutting corners on construction projects. The Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 and Residential Apartment Buildings (Compliance and Enforcement Powers) Act 2020 attempts to restore confidence in NSW building industry. They do this by forcing contractors to exercise reasonable care as they carry out construction work.

The laws intend to avoid economic loss caused by defects to buildings. Changes to the law were needed following instances where developer malpractice resulted in building products catching fire and caused millions of dollars’ worth of damage.

Individuals entering the property market can now enjoy peace of mind knowing that their home will be built in full compliance with the Building Code of Australia. Care to avoid economic ruin on the part of subsequent owners of property has been taken. The NSW Building Commissioner will lead the rollout of the new legislation and will continue to concentrate on investigation and audit strategies for noncompliant builders.

The Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020

The Act commenced on 10 June, 2020. From this date, owners of buildings with defects will benefit from the new laws. A statutory duty of care will apply to new buildings. It will also apply to older buildings where an economic loss first became apparent in the limitation period of the previous decade.

From September 1, 2020, the NSW Building Commissioner will be able to prevent the provision of an occupation certificate for a building if work is noncompliant. Developers may be ordered in this case to rectify defective construction work. They may be issued with a stop work order if building work is not up to legislated standard.

From July 1, 2021, there will be compulsory registration required for specialist practitioners involved in design and building work, including professional engineers.

Regulated building elements will include fire safety systems, waterproofing, internal or external load bearing components and mechanical, plumbing and electrical services. Contractors will need to issue a design declaration to demonstrate that their design complies with the Building Code of Australia. Otherwise, the punitive measures mentioned above (starting from September 1, 2020) may be enforced.

Residential Apartment Buildings (Compliance and Enforcement Powers) Act 2020

This Act provides a range of investigation, rectification and enforcement powers to authorised personnel. These include the Secretary of the Department of Customer Service and the Building Commissioner. Officers can inspect building work to assess compliance with the Act during construction or any time within ten years of the completed project.

Certain types of residential apartment building work and completed buildings are included under the Act. The Act also establishes a mandatory developer notification scheme for building work which is at least six months from completion.

Both of these new laws will have widespread impacts on the building industry in NSW. Retrospective provisions imply that modern buildings (built in the last ten years) may need inspection to ensure compliance with the legislation. Construction practitioners need to become aware of the new duty of care and become familiar with the new regime coming into effect in July, 2021.

If your residential or commercial property was built in the last ten years, contact SBDIR today to arrange an inspection. We will make sure that your building is compliant with the new laws to provide peace of mind and a guarantee of safety.