NSW Building Commissioner Cracking Down on Developers


The New South Wales government-appointed Building Commissioner will be handed new powers in a bid to beef up regulation across the state’s construction industry and prevent defective buildings hitting the market.

David Chandler, installed as the state’s first building commissioner mid-2019, will focus on identifying risk-prone developers, builders and certifiers.

Chandler’s appointment was brought forward by the state to overhaul an industry rife with building defects following high-profile failures at Opal and Mascot Towers.

Under the terms of the 2020 Residential Apartment Buildings (Compliance and Enforcement Powers) Bill, select developers will need to provide completion dates six months ahead of time and undergo monthly inspections.

Chandler said this new legislation would help restore confidence in the building sector which is at an all-time low.

“Poor quality buildings and shoddy workmanship simply won’t fly anymore,” Chandler said.

“We’ve got a robust plan in place to put the consumer first and improve transparency and accountability across the sector.”

The bill comes shortly after the 2019 Design and Building Practitioners Bill, which passed through the NSW parliament last week.

▲ The new powers apply both to the construction of buildings going forward, but also to existing buildings built in the last ten years.
▲ The new powers apply both to the construction of buildings going forward, but also to existing buildings built in the last ten years.

The two bills provide the legislation needed to support the government’s planned six-pillar building reform package.

The regulator will flex its new powers by withholding settlements to low-skilled developers who have failed to meet strict new prerequisites and delivered unworthy projects.

Developers will also be rated on their record of building failures, finances, complaints, insurance claims and other such factors using software developed by data company Equifax.

The ratings tool will tap into a wide range of publicly-available data through a number of agencies and bodies to create a risk profile for any planned project, based on the behaviour of the companies behind it.

Chandler said the aim of the service he was seeking to establish was a documentation system for a newly-constructed building that could be handed over to the owners upon completion and contained a true record of how it was built.

The commissioner said about 20 per cent of apartment buildings in the state had “significant issues” such as structural, waterproofing and fire-rating systems, that he needed to resolve.

Better regulation minister Kevin Anderson said the suite of new powers will ensure buildings are constructed to a high standard, with robust offences and heavy fines for those doing the wrong thing.

“This will no doubt form part of that jigsaw puzzle, which will drive the economy of NSW back to where we need to be,” Anderson said.

The powers outlined in the new bill are expected to come into effect by September of this year.

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