The Australian Institute of Architects (the Institute) describes last night’s release of the Building Legislation Amendment (Building Classes) Regulation 2023 as an opportunity missed by the NSW government.
The Institute has worked consistently and collaboratively with government to improve the regulation of building and construction in NSW and to rebuild consumer confidence in response to the recommendations of the 2018 Shergold-Weir ‘Building Confidence’ report.
While we have been encouraged by the quality and the nation-leading volume of work which has been undertaken by the NSW government on these reforms to date, we believe the new Amendment Regulation is a backward step in the protection of consumers in NSW.
The new Regulation endorses an unrestricted class of Building Designer as able to design and document for building classes which accommodate some of our community’s most vulnerable residents.
The Regulation applies to Class 3 and 9c buildings. Class 3 buildings include ‘care-type’ facilities for children, the elderly, or people with a disability.
Class 9c buildings are residential care buildings where 10% or more of persons who reside there need physical assistance in conducting their daily activities and to evacuate the building during an emergency. An aged care building, where residents are provided with personal care services, is a Class 9c building.
The Institute believes an unrestricted class of building designer may result in unintended consequences, will reduce consumer protection, and will impair international recognition of our skills base by indicating that an Architect and Building Designer (Level 1) are equivalent in terms of their education, skills, experience, ongoing professional development, regulation, and expertise when they are clearly not the same.
It is not easy for consumers to understand the difference between a Building Designer and an Architect. By conflating the two professions, the Building Legislation Amendment (Building Classes) Regulation 2023 is signaling to the market that the product delivered by the two will be of the same quality.
Registration as an Architect requires five years of full-time study to Masters level, meeting a National Standard of Competency for Architects (NSCA), 3300 hours of logged, verified and supervised practice which can take up to 5 years to achieve, and then completing an Architectural Practice Exam administered nationally by the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA). Alternatively, Building Designers do not need to meet all these stringent requirements.
It is critical to note that under the current DBP Act and Regulation, some fully registered and experienced architects are restricted from operating as Design Practitioners- Architectural due to the stringent new experience parameters. To endorse Building Designers with less expertise and independent oversight in an unrestricted class appears disproportionate and discordant with the intent of the building reforms to protect the consumers of NSW.
NSW Chapter President, Adam Haddow states,
‘Consumers should feel confident that the designing of complex buildings for the most vulnerable members of our community will always be put in the hands of those with the highest level of qualification and expertise.’
For further information, please contact: Lisa King at the Australian Institute of Architects | M. +61 (0) 418 222 098 | firstname.lastname@example.org