NEW SOUTH WALES
DESIGN AND
BUILDING PRACTITIONERS
ACT AND REGULATION

NSW Design and building practitioners act and regulation

The Design and Building Practitioners (DBP) Act and Regulations impose multiple new obligations on design practitioners. To ensure our members are across the requirements and the implications these entail, we strongly encourage all architects practicing in NSW to familiarise themselves with the information and resources curated here.

Overview

Overview

The Institute has been engaged heavily in advocacy to assist and guide the development of both the Design and Building Practitioners Regulation 2020 and the underpinning legislative framework created by the Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 (NSW) (DBP Act).


To inform our advocacy work in 2020 and 2021 we held a number of member forums, while many NSW Chapter members also contributed, and continue to contribute, to working groups and activities led by both the NSW Office of the Building Commissioner and the NSW Department of Customer Service.


The DBP Act and Regulations are a key part of the NSW Government’s moves to respond to the Shergold Weir recommendations and are aimed at overhauling the building and construction industry to restore public confidence and ensure quality and safety outcomes.


This tranche of reform aims to deliver increased rigour to the design and construction of multi-storey and multi-unit residential buildings. It also applies to mixed-use buildings that include a residential apartment component. Over the longer-term the intention is to expand the scope of the legislative framework to include other building typologies.


The Institute has welcomed the legislative framework as a positive step towards rectifying issues around the quality and safety of complex buildings.

CHANGES IN PRACTICE

The DBP Act, enacted in June 2020, imposes multiple new obligations on design practitioners and builders throughout the life of the building to ensure better compliance with the Building Code of Australia underpinned by higher quality design documentation.


Consultation on the development of the supporting Regulation has highlighted a focus on ensuring that each step of construction is well-documented and compliant. To drive this the Regulation includes detailed requirements for “regulated designs” (and variations to them) at set points throughout the design and construction process.


In addition, construction will not be able to commence until the building practitioner has obtained all regulated designs from the registered design practitioners and the necessary compliance declarations have been lodged.

HOW THE INSTITUTE IS SUPPORTING YOU

We continue to work closely with the Office of the Building Commissioner and the Customer Service and Fair Trading teams to advocate on behalf of our members as these important reforms are rolled out. Our dedicated webpage provides up-to-date information on the legislation, and we continue to send out updates to our members as new resources emerge.


ConstructNSW have now also published information covering how to prepare, who the laws apply to, how to get registered and much more. Additional content continues to be added by ConstructNSW as digital products are developed to support registration and lodgements.

key links and critcal information

Key Links and critical information for design practitioners

To ensure our members are across the requirements and the implications these entail, we strongly encourage all architects practicing in NSW to familiarise themselves with the information and resources curated here.

Guide for Design Practitioners and Engineers: contract terms, professional indemnity and insurance

AS 3959:2018, Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas was made available as a free resource last year.

What architects need to know

Changes in Practice

Developed by the Office of the Building Commissioner design professionals can watch a 5-minute video or view a detailed PowerPoint presentation explaining the changes, including information on eligibility, registration and new obligations.

The changes affect you if you are working on a class 2 building or a building with a class 2 component, and you are the supervising practitioner who will declare designs.

Consultation on the development of the DPB Act and supporting Regulation has been focused on ensuring that each step of the design and construction process is well-documented and compliant with the Building Code of Australia. In summary the Act and Regulations:

  1. create a statutory duty of care on anyone who carries out construction work to exercise ‘reasonable care’ to avoid economic loss caused by defects in or related to a building
  2. require designers, builders and engineers to be registered under a new statutory registration scheme
  3. establish a scheme for the provision of compliance declarations to be made by designers and builders in respect of their work
  4. create a mandatory obligation for registered practitioners in respect of insurance coverage for their work (deferred until 1 July 2022).

In practice the Act and Regulations detail requirements for “regulated designs” (and variations to them) at set points throughout the design and construction process and from
1 July 2021, Design and Building Practitioners working on class 2 buildings will need to register under a new Compliance Declaration Scheme.

Regulated designs will need to be “declared” by registered practitioners for compliance with the Building Code of Australia and other relevant standards before building work can start. Declared designs will need to be lodged on the NSW Planning Portal. Builders must then “declare” that they have constructed according to those designs.

The Act introduced a new registration regime for Design Practitioners and Principal Design Practitioners, Building Practitioners, and Professional Engineers which includes prescribed classes of registration and prescribed qualifications, experience, and skills for each class.

Practitioners – including architects – can apply for registration via the NSW Planning Portal from 1 July 2021.

As is currently the case, architects will be required to maintain registration with the NSW Architects Registration Board in order to practice architecture in NSW. Architects will now need to also register under the Compliance Declaration Scheme in order to provide compliance declarations for regulated designs or take on the role of “Principal Design Practitioner” when working on class 2 buildings.

The scheme allows for both “Design” and “Principal Design” practitioners. The Principal Design Practitioner is an optional role, which will be most likely be found on larger more complex projects. Where a “Principal Design Practitioner” is appointed, they will be responsible for making “Principal Compliance Declarations” – coordinating and collecting designs and declarations from other practitioners that they lodge on the building practitioners behalf.

The Regulation outlines the stipulated form and content of certain regulated designs and compliance declarations. This includes specific requirements for regulated designs involving performance solutions, fire-resistant building elements and the integration of vertical transportation products.

Compliance Declarations should be made in the form specified on the NSW Planning Portal and may only be lodged by registered practitioners. This documentation is still under development but will be made available to members once released.

Variations to regulated designs (meaning most on-site project variations) must be re-declared and lodged no later than 1 day after the builder commences building work in relation to the variation. Variations must be holistic, taking into account the entire project scope and cannot be designed or considered in isolation.

All other variations must be recorded by the Building Practitioner in a “variation statement” and form part of the documentation lodged on the NSW planning portal before the issue of the occupation certificate.

Mandatory insurance requirements under this legislation will commence from 1 July 2022.

Eventually, all registered practitioners will require ‘adequate’ cover that extends to all liability since becoming a registered practitioner under the DBP Act. However, the Regulation clarifies that it does not require a practitioner to hold insurance in relation to any work which predates the practitioner’s registration.

The transitional exemption for insurance from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022 is intended to enable the insurance industry to develop appropriate products, and to enable practitioners to adjust to the new responsibilities under the reforms.

You should note that architects are already required to maintain appropriate insurance to hold registration under the NSW Architects Act 2003 and there are no changes to this requirement as a result of the DPB Act exemptions until 1 July 2022.

In addition to the above, the Regulation refers to codes of practice for prescribed practitioners, new record-keeping obligations, ongoing continuing professional development requirements and penalty notice offences under the Act. In many cases these are aligned with requirements for registration under the Architects Act 2003. Specific guidance on the intersect between the requirements under the DBP Act and the Architects Act is currently under development. Further advice will be provided to members once this work is complete.

prepare for july 1

From the Office of the Building commissioner - four ways to prepare

From 1 July 2021, many practitioners working on class 2 buildings will have new obligations under the Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020.

You may need to:

These changes apply to Professional Engineers, Design Practitioners and Building Practitioners working on class 2 buildings or buildings with a class 2 part. The NSW Fair Trading website has detailed eligibility criteria for individuals and organisations.

Find information for designers and builders

Got 6 minutes to spare?

Watch our videos explaining the changes, including information on eligibility, registration and your new obligations.

Watch the videos for Design and Building Practitioners

Before registering, Design and Building Practitioners must complete and pass two online learning modules:

Tip: Make sure to keep your module certificates as proof of completion – you’ll need these when you register

Complete the modules online

To register online from 1 July, you’ll need to submit documents including:

  • Proof of identity
  • A police check
  • A copy of your degree or other qualifications

You’ll also need to provide evidence of your recent and relevant work experience.

Read registration information for Design and Building Practitioners

Once registered, Design and Building Practitioners will have new obligations for declaring and lodging designs on the NSW Planning Portal.

Visit our website to learn more about these new requirements.

Design and Building Practitioner obligations

Still have questions or need some clarity? Visit the NSW Fair Trading website for more information.

Resources

MEMBER EDUCATION & RESOURCES

To assist members come up to speed with the changes, the Institute is coordinating a series of critical information sessions in person and online:

This first session in the series is now available online. It can be viewed free of charge or can be completed as a 2 formal CPD point seminar.

Co-hosted by the NSW Architects Registration Board, this seminar provides practitioners with critical information direct from Building Commissioner David Chandler, Director and Digital Director of the Office of the Building Commissioner Matt Press and Yin Man, NSW Architects Board Registrar Dr Kirsten Orr and technical expert Craig Burns who have been involved in the development of the Act and Regulation.

 

This second session in the series is now available online. It can be viewed free of charge or can be completed as a 2 formal CPD point seminar.

In this session, Building Commissioner David Chandler, Director and Digital Director of the Office of the Building Commissioner Matt Press and Yin Man, along with the Institute’s Laura Cockburn and other peak body representatives.

Presentations are followed by a Q&A session.

THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED DUE TO COVID RESTRICTIONS – A NEW DATE WILL BE ADVISED SOON

Bringing together the Office of the Building Commissioner with key industry representatives including architects, engineers and other consultants, this session will walk through a sample design and construction project, explaining processes and roles under the new system. Co-hosted by Consult Australia and Engineers Australia.

INSTITUTE BUILDING REFORM ADVOCACY

INSTITUTE BUILDING REFORM ADVOCACY

The Australian Institute of Architects promotes a clear and overarching goal to make the world a better place through architecture alongside a mission to develop and promote a strong architectural profession and be the public voice for architecture.

Along with formal submissions and feedback opportunities, we have focused on relationship building to maximise the impact of our advocacy endeavours, and we are working constructively with all levels of government, authorities and other industry groups.

In NSW the Institute, through the NSW Chapter, has taken a lead role as the State government has been undertaking planning and building reform in response to the Shergold Weir recommendations which are aimed at overhauling the Australian building and construction industry to restore public confidence and ensure quality and safety outcomes.

Since the beginning of the reform process the Institute has engaged directly with the Department of Fair Trading, Office of the Minister for Better Regulation and the Office of the Building Commissioner.

The NSW Chapter has lead initiatives through the establishment and coordination of a “Building Stakeholder Group” which included Engineers Australia, Owners Corporation Network, Association of Accredited Certifiers, Association of Consulting Architects, Consult Australia, Master Builders Association of NSW and Fire Protection Association Australia.

The Institute has also played a key role in the Building Reform Expert Panel, this group had its inaugural meeting 18 December 2019 and continues to convene regularly to advise the NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler and the Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation Kevin Anderson MP. There are six advisory pillars feeding this Panel, and the Institute has representatives on each. Substantial work has been undertaken by the Expert Panel and Advisory Pillars, with ongoing advice from the NSW Chapter and members fed directly into the design of the legislation, regulations, supporting documentation and guidance.

The Institute has also represented the views of architects at two parliamentary inquiries considering the Design and Building Practitioners legislation, as well as providing the following formal submissions and public media comment since 2019.

Highlights from this advocacy work include

Photographer: Cytonn Photography