Big changes ahead for building certification system after damning review

Changes flagged: The building certification system will be overhauled. Picture: Louie Douvis

Changes flagged: The building certification system will be overhauled. Picture: Louie Douvis

The certification system for building work in NSW is to be overhauled after a damning review.

Accreditation will be tightened, roles and responsibilities clarified and complaints and disciplinary processes strengthened.

Fire safety reforms will be prioritised after the review found practices for ensuring apartment fire safety were “totally ineffectual” and had caused unsafe buildings to be approved.

Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Victor Dominello announced the changes in response to a review of the Building Professionals Act 2005.

The certification system has been the subject of widespread criticism, highlighted by failures over an apartment block at Bankstown, where student died in a fire in 2012.

The review’s report said, “Recent incidents in NSW provide some indications that all is not well: the Bankstown apartment block fire with resulting death and injury; the Lane Cove balcony collapse and resulting injuries; and the Macquarie Park failure of a high level balustrade and resulting death”.

“Beyond the human tragedies, building faults inflict a significant economic cost on the community”.

The government supported 72 of the review’s recommendations. 

“The government will introduce legislation to enhance certifier accreditation, including clarifying a certifier’s roles and responsibilities, improving the independence of certifiers and strengthening complaints processes,” Mr Dominello said.

“Certifiers play a critical role in the building process and these reforms will ensure safety and confidence in the system.

“NSW is experiencing a construction boom and it is imperative that we have first class certification laws that cater for current needs and future demands.”

Mr Dominello said the review found that the Act wasn’t meeting its objectives.

“Fire safety reforms will be prioritised, including consulting on options for additional inspections during and after construction and tighter controls on who performs certain fire safety roles,” he said.

“Complaints and disciplinary processes around certifiers will also be strengthened, with greater oversight and improved responsiveness to community complaints.

“New measures to facilitate better use and sharing of data will improve the efficiency of building regulation and enable the ongoing monitoring of industry performance.”

Mr Dominello said an exposure draft bill for public feedback would  be released in the first half of 2017.

Visit:  bpb.nsw.gov.au.

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