Enshrining building quality must be a legislative priority for NSW

The Australian Institute of Architects is calling on the NSW Government to bring forward debate on new legislation that lifts building standards and enshrines a duty of care for the construction of new buildings an urgent priority.

NSW Chapter President Kathlyn Loseby said fast-tracking of new construction projects to stimulate the economy must be paired with measures that increase consumer protection by legislating better safeguards.

‘The Institute strongly supports steps the NSW Government is taking to leverage construction as a way of creating jobs to support the state’s economic recovery in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic,’ Ms Loseby said.

‘However, in turbocharging the construction industry we can’t afford to create a legacy of poor quality buildings.

‘As NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler OAM has emphasised, it is estimated that for every $1 saved by cutting corners during construction, the subsequent rectification costs to building owners is as high as $10.

‘The NSW Government’s Design and Building Practitioners Bill 2019 (DBP Bill) is a critical part of the state’s response to lifting building standards in the wake of the Shergold-Weir report.

‘Without passage of this legislation, the funding and fast-tracking of projects, including Class 3 apartments, will mean more new buildings that are plagued by the same construction quality issues.

‘The DBP Bill is supported by both major parties and passing it needs to be a top priority for the NSW Government.

‘We are encouraged by reports that, with Covid-19 restrictions easing, the NSW Government is now looking to reinstate more parliamentary sitting days.

‘Further sittings of parliament in late May would enable the DBP Bill to be debated. The stark reality is that we can’t afford to wait until a mooted return to sittings in September.

‘This legislation is fundamental to restoring consumer confidence and avoiding further costs being placed on the public purse from shoddy construction work.

‘Stimulating construction activity and lifting standards must go hand in hand.

‘One of the strongest features of this new legislation is that the new duty of care applies from the date the legislation is passed, with full retrospectivity from that time.

‘This means better quality construction work will be required from all parties in the building chain from the day the bill is passed. This is imperative to positively change the construction process and is not something that can be delayed.’

For media enquiries contact:

Fiona Benson  |  on behalf of the Australian Institute of Architects

+61 (0) 407 294 620 | fiona@fjpartners.com.au