Building Confidence: Legal Developments In Certification And Building Standards

The number of high-rise apartments being built in Australia has almost tripled in less than 10 years.1 Scrutiny of the quality of these buildings has increased after a series of recent incidents where buildings have become uninhabitable due to serious structural defects. Reform is inevitable, and it is important for planners to be aware of how the legislative changes may impact the industry. This article will provide an overview of the progress of legislative reforms and the accountability mechanisms proposed in NSW for the building industry. We will also consider some ways forward for effectively regulating the building industry.

Why does building certification matter? What are the implications for planners?

The reports in the media of serious defects in a number of high profile apartment buildings has put the spotlight on the challenges, costs and uncertainties of rectifying defective works. While the NSW Government has sought to deescalate tensions by providing assistance packages to some impacted residents2, there has emerged a loss of confidence in the quality and rigour of building works in NSW.

This poses potential commercial or reputational risks to planners. While planners are rarely directly involved in the building certification process, projects which planners have advised on or assessed may receive negative publicity. Any overall loss of confidence in new developments may lead to a decline in demand for new developments.

With the increased public and media scrutiny of the quality of new buildings, the building industry should expect an overhaul of building regulation to require greater independent oversight of construction works, new certification and new registration requirements for engineers and builders.

It will be important for all those involved in the industry to ensure that they keep up to date and comply with the new legal requirements, including ensuring that contractors and consultant engineers are appropriately qualified for the work they will be completing. This will require an increase in due diligence and oversight of the works of the consultants and contractors. This may have implications for construction timetables and overheads. Any increased overheads of new development, may have commercial implications for planning firms, for example if developers are under pressure to 'squeeze' on costs of consultants such as planners.

Snapshot of recent legal developments

In early 2018, the Environmental Planning and...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT