Building safety reform in NSW — some food for thought for SA building professionals

LG Leader August 2020

One of the key reforms to our planning system is the introduction of the Accredited Professionals Scheme which applies to a range of decision-makers under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 including, but not limited to, planners and building surveyors.

The question is however, does the Accredited Professionals Scheme go ‘far enough’?

In the wake of several, high-profile defective building cases in New South Wales and other States and Territories, the Design and Building Professionals Act 2020 (NSW) (“the NSW Act”) has commenced.

The NSW Act introduces a number of unique measures to mitigate defective buildings, including the requirement that all design practitioners (i.e. architects and draftspersons), professional engineers, building practitioners and related professionals be registered and certified under the NSW Act from July 2021.

Effectively, this legislation introduces an accreditation scheme whereby any person involved in the design of a building must be accredited and must undertake compulsory CPD on the requirements of the National Construction Code (NCC), thereby ensuring that buildings are Code-compliant from design through to approval and construction.

The scheme recognises the importance of the design process in achieving compliant buildings.  Presently, it is possible for architects and other building designers to use non-compliant products in the design of a building. Developers often invest significant sums of money in the design process, which takes place prior to the lodgment of a development application. If a building design is not compliant with NCC requirements, the design must be altered, often at great cost to a developer, before it can be approved.  Depending on the extent of alterations, an entirely new development application may be required, thereby further increasing development costs and increasing approval timeframes.

Such a scheme has the potential to save costs for developers, better promote awareness of the NCC and its requirements, and to ensure that buildings are approved more quickly and without the need for significant amendments. South Australian building professionals may wish to consider whether such a scheme should be promoted and adopted in our State, particularly given the importance of the building and construction sector to our State’s economy.

For further information please contact Victoria Shute on or 08 8113 7104.