NSW Building Commissioner to extend reach by regulations

20 January 2020

The NSW Building Commissioner is set to get sweeping powers to stop defective apartment blocks from being built, particularly if they are linked to contractors with poor track records.


According to The Australian newspaper, the reforms will be presented to a national meeting of building ministers next month by the NSW Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation, Kevin Anderson, who will push for aspects to be adopted nationally. The new regulations will for the first time rank builders, developers and certifiers according to their record on workplace safety, their track record on customer complaints, the age of their business, financial credibility, suspicions of phoenixing, and dozens of other metrics.


The Building Commissioner has committed to the total digitisation of the sector, which currently works on outdated paper filing and analog systems. This would allow key documents such as construction plans to be instantly accessed in the event of an incident.


The regulations will follow the passing of the the Design and Building Practitioners Bill 2019 which encourages building professionals to meet or exceed accepted design and building standards to reduce the risk of defects. The draft bill proposes the following key reforms, including:


  • Introducing the concept of ‘regulated designs’, which include designs for a building element and performance solutions for prescribed classes of building work or a building element;
  • Requiring that design practitioners who prepare regulated designs issue a compliance declaration to declare that the designs comply with the Building Code of Australia;
  • Requiring that building practitioners obtain, rely upon and build in accordance with declared designs, and issue a compliance declaration to declare they have complied with the Building Code of Australia;
  • Requiring that any variations to declared designs are reprepared and declared by a design practitioner if they are in a building element or performance solution, or in any other case, documented by the building practitioner;
  • Introducing the optional role of a ‘principal design practitioner’;
  • Requiring any design, principal design or building practitioner who intends on making a compliance declaration to be registered under a new registration scheme set out under the draft Bill; and
  • Clarifying the common law to ensure that a duty of care is owed for construction work to certain categories of ‘owner’.


Debate on the Bill will resume in 2020.