National

NSW parliament passes building reforms

By AAP Newswire

NSW parliament has finally passed building reforms introduced in the wake of high-profile Sydney apartment defects, with the state government declaring a new era for building design and construction.

Better Regulation Minister Kevin Anderson said the passing of the Design and Building Practitioners Bill 2019 is a huge step forward in rebuilding a transparent and accountable construction industry.

Owners of defective apartment buildings will benefit immediately from a statutory duty of care applicable to all new buildings and those less than 10 years old, Mr Anderson said in a statement on Wednesday.

The legislation outlines obligations of building and design practitioners, registers those practitioners and engineers, and provides requirements for buildings to meet the Building Code of Australia.

The bill made it through parliament, with amendments, in the same week another bill was introduced seeking to further boost the powers of the NSW building commissioner David Chandler.

"Combined, these two bills put the interests of consumers first," Mr Chandler said.

"The laws will give my team a broad range of powers, including the ability to issue stop-work orders, prevent strata plan registration and occupation certificates, and to issue hefty fines for those doing the wrong thing."

The Association of Accredited Certifiers welcomed the passage of the first bill, saying it would ensure building designers and practitioners were more accountable for their work.

"For too long, unregistered building and design practitioners have been allowed to work on NSW construction sites without any accountability," AAC chief executive Jill Brookfield said in a statement.

"These reforms mean their days are coming to an end."

The Association of Professional Engineers Australia was happy about an engineer registration scheme being added via a Labor amendment in the upper house, saying such a scheme was long overdue.

"This ends the situation where anyone in NSW could call themselves an engineer and brings the state into line with Queensland and Victoria, where registration of engineers is in place," chief executive Gordon Brock said.

Mr Chandler said the reforms would make a dramatic impact.

"They're already making an impact, I can assure you," he told reporters in Sydney.

"People are already starting to take corrective action and the buildings that are going to be produced are starting to be thought through differently."