A better regulatory framework, a rating system to flag dodgy builders and developers and greater digitisation of the industry are among six pillars which will guide a strategy to improve building standards in New South Wales.

Announced by New South Wales Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson, the new plans aims to help improve transparency, accountability and quality of work within the industry.

At the core of the plan lies a new system under which builders, developers and certifiers would be rated and given an overall score based on their record on workplace safety, their track record on customer complaints, the age of their business, their financial credibility, suspicions of phoenixing and other metrics.

As reported in News Ltd earlier this week, those with poor scores would be flagged on a database to ensure that their projects are heavily scrutinised.

Where he is not satisfied with either the contractors or the overall soundness of the project, Building Commissioner David Chandler will be able to block the building and remove the occupation certificate.

Other parts of the plan include:

  • Implementing legislation and regulation and transforming the focus of the regulator
  • Building skills and capabilities through improved accreditation of construction related programs and improved standard modules
  • Better procurement methods and practices through establishment of clear standards for engagement and outputs and a more equitable sharing of project risk and performance accountability
  • Greater digitations of the industry through digital record keeping and shared industry wide platforms
  • Better quality research through an evidence based approach to accessing and closing the gap via case studies and other research.

Building industry lobby groups welcomed the plan.

Kathly Loseby, NSW Chapter President of the Australian Institute of Architects, applauded the moves, saying that a ranking scheme would not only protect consumers but add transparency to the construction process.

“We support the NSW Government action on this and now we need a national scheme that helps to protect all consumers around the country,” Loseby said.

‘Safety has always been our top priority. This crackdown on shonky operators will start the process of ensuring Australian people and property are protected.

In order for the reforms to come into effect, however, the Design and Building Practitioners Bill would need to be passed.

The Bill – which is currently stalled in the Upper House as the Opposition Labor Party and the Greens seek amendments in order to address concerns – does not specifically mention or outline the new ranking system.

Nevertheless, the system will be introduced by regulations which will only become active with the Bill’s passage.

Debate on the Bill is expected to resume in the last week of February.

Anderson encouraged the Opposition and cross-bench to support the bill’s passage.

“We are asking the opposition and the cross bench to put consumers ahead of politics and let us get on with the building reforms, every day these reforms are delayed is another day homeowners go without the necessary protections,” he said.