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NSW Design and Building Practitioners Act and Regulations: Getting members ready to declare

Overview

The Institute has been engaged heavily in advocacy to assist and guide the development of both the Design and Building Practitioners Regulation 2020 due for release in April 2021 and the underpinning legislative framework created by the Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 (NSW) (DBP Act).

To inform our advocacy work in 2020 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 is likely to include 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.

While the DBP Act sets out the general framework the detail of the supporting Regulation that underpins the legislative scheme is where the step change in practice will be fully outlined.

The Regulations are due to be released in April 2021. The majority of the DBP Act reforms will commence on 1 July 2021.

How the Institute will support you

Until the release of the Regulations, expected 9 April 2021, the Institute is unable to provide comprehensive advice to members on the operation of the legislative scheme or on the full range of changes that will be imposed. However, we are working in the background to prepare as much as possible ahead of the release of the Regulations, developing a comprehensive member tool-kit and arranging a series of member events and professional development activities to support information exchange.

ConstructNSW have also now published new information covering how to prepare, who the laws apply to, how to get registered and much more. New content will be added in the coming weeks once the Regulations have been released and as digital products are developed to support registration and lodgements.