NSW Builder Commissioner to shortly acquire significant new regulatory powers

The NSW Building Commissioner, David Chandler OAM, will shortly acquire significant new enforcement powers aimed at preventing the sale of defect laden apartments, and preventing developers from compelling off-the-plan purchases not built to design, when the Residential Apartment Buildings (Compliance and Enforcement Powers) Act 2020 (NSW) (RAB Act) comes into effect on 1 September 2020.

In conjunction with the Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 (NSW) (DPB Act), which imposes a statutory duty of care for those involved in the construction of buildings and will enable owners and purchasers to sue if that duty is breach, the government hopes to restore confidence in and bolster the crisis-ravaged residential construction industry. It follows a NSW parliamentary enquiry into building standards in the state.

The RAB Act, which was not opposed by either Labor or the Greens, will enable the Commissioner from 1 September 2020 to personally enter and inspect construction sites, issue rectification and stop-work orders, and prevent settlement of properties not built to design or with defects from occurring.

The legislation aims to shift commercial risk in the industry to developers and builders, as it will prevent them compelling purchasers to complete a sale where there are defects present, or where the build is not in accordance with the design specified.

Certifiers are also firmly in the Commissioner’s sights, with Mr Chandler stating that the days of “signatures for sale” are now over, noting that certifiers fulfil a role as public officials regardless of who is retaining them.

Under the DBP Act, all engineers, designers and construction contractors practicing in the state will also be required to be assessed and registered under the new comprehensive legislative framework.