The NSW Government’s proposed reforms in the ‘Building Stronger Foundations’ discussion paper, if implemented, will have extensive impacts on the building and construction industry. The discussion paper delves into the response from the NSW Government to the Shergold-Weir Report, confirming that it will support the majority of the 24 recommendations to improve building regulations and the National Construction Code (NCC). The Discussion paper sets out four key proposals to deliver more robust regulatory and enforcement requirements. The four key reforms include:
- A requirement for buildings to be designed and constructed in compliance with the Building Code of Australia (BCA). This will involve the introduction of ‘building designers’ into NSW legislation and a number of legislative obligations to be placed on these designers.
- A requirement for building practitioners to be registered as a ‘building designer’ to sign off plans and ensure BCA compliance. In order to register as a designer, practitioners will be required to complete an application form and pay a fee, as well as meeting certain conditions.
- The introduction of duty-of-care principles, which will allow home owners to claim compensation if a building designer is negligent, reversing the Landmark High Court decisions in Brookfield Multiplex Ltd v Owners Corporation Strata Plan 61288 and Woolcock Street Investments Pty Ltd v CDG Pty Ltd. These decisions are regarded by the NSW Government as eroding the rights of consumers, as it was held that the practitioners did not owe a duty of care where protection is provided for in a contract.
- The appointment of a building commissioner who will be tasked with regulating the NSW building industry, in particular, compliance with the proposed reforms.
NSW Fair Trading has invited individuals and organisations interested in the proposal to provide submissions in relation to the reforms outlined in the discussion paper. Any person involved in the building and construction industry should consider making a submission before the closing date 24 July 2019, as these reforms are likely to have a significant and long-lasting impact. The legislation is expected to be introduced into State Parliament at the end of 2019.