Feedback is being sought in New South Wales on new laws which would require architects and engineers to declare that their designs comply with the National Construction Code (NCC) and builders to declare that they have built according to the plans.

The New South Wales Government is seeking feedback for its Draft Design and Building Practitioners Bill, which aims to improve the quality of design regulation and to lift accountability across the construction sector.

A key aspect of the reforms involves the introduction of a concept known as ‘regulated designs’.

Exactly what will be considered a regulated design will be prescribed in regulations which will follow the legislation.

Nevertheless, the draft legislation states that it may included designs which related to individual building elements such as fire safety systems, waterproofing, structural loadbearing elements or parts of the building enclosure and may also include performance solutions.

Under the new laws, where prepare designs which fall under the definition of a regulated design, registered design practitioners (i.e. registered architects, engineers or other consultants) will need to declare that the design complies with NCC requirements.

The draft legislation also imposes new requirements on registered builders who perform construction work in respect of regulated designs.

Under the proposed new laws, builders who perform such construction will have to:

  • Obtain, rely upon and build in accordance with the declared designs
  • Issue declarations that they themselves have complied with NCC requirements.

All design and building practitioners who make declarations will need to be registered under a new registration scheme to be set out in the Act.

The proposed new law will further require that any variations to declared designs are reprepared and declared by registered design practitioners.

It will also introduce the optional role of a ‘principal design practitioner’.

Finally, the law will also be clarified to ensure there is an industry-wide duty of care to homeowners and owners corporations so that they have the right to compensation where a building practitioner has been negligent.

The proposed new laws were foreshadowed in February as part of the New South Wales Government’s response to the Shergold Weir report.

As part of its response, the government also appointed David Chandler OAM to a new Building Commissioner role.

When introducing the reforms earlier this year, Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean said the reforms would help to provide greater accountability and consumer protection.