sydney apartments
New law is one of several designed to strengthen apartment defects. Image – Canva.
  • New legislation will cover the buidling of new class 2 buildings
  • Class 2 buildings include multi-unit and multi-storey residential buildings
  • Designs must be declared as compliant prior to construction

Last week new laws were introduced in New South Wales, designed to strengthen compliance when working on class 2 buildings.

The Shergold Weir Building Confidence Report found that poor design documentation and non-compliant design were the main drivers of defects in class 2 buildings, which covers multi-unit and multi-storey residential buildings.

Kevin Anderson, the Minister for Better Regulation, said the Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 (DBP Act) will change the way professional engineers, designers and builders work on such buildings.

“In the past consumers have been wary about buying new or off-the-plan apartments because of the risk of poor building work and design standards – but that ends today,” Mr Anderson said.

“We are transforming the building sector by making it more transparent and accountable so homebuyers can have peace of mind.”

Kevin Anderson, Minister for Better Regulation

Under the legislation, for every new class 2 building, the practitioners involved will have to be registered and comply with robust new requirements, especially from a design perspective, with targeted audits undertaken before work commences.

Mr Anderson said this saves stakeholders time and money with the added benefit of the buyer avoiding stress and disappointment.

“Under the changes, the days of poor quality design are over – designs for a high-rise apartment will have to be to a minimum standard and lodged with the regulator before construction begins,” Mr Anderson said.

The Fair Trading inspection teams, responsible for undertaking compliance audits across the state, will be continued to be led by NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler OAM.

“We’ve put the responsibility back onto the designers and builders to ensure their work is up to scratch and will take a proactive regulatory approach to protect the interests of apartment purchasers,” Mr Chandler said.

Designers must now declare their designs comply with standards and the declared designs must be lodged with the NSW Planning Portal before construction commences.

Mr Anderson concluded by arguing that due to the DBP Act and the new powers enjoyed by the regulator due to the Residential Apartment Buildings Act, NSW has the strongest regulatory regime nationally for apartment buildings.

“We’ve already been stepping in to stop purchasers being forced to settle on defective buildings through our tough new occupation certificate audits; today we start our efforts even sooner in the construction process by honing in on the quality of the designs.”

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