This article about reporting apartment building defects in NSW has been provided by David Chandler OAM, NSW Building Commissioner at NSW Department of Customer Service.
The NSW Government is committed to achieving and maintaining best practice regulation across all the industries that it regulates, and the building sector is no exception.
The Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 (D&BP Act) and The Residential Apartment Buildings (Compliance and Enforcement Powers) Act 2020 (RAB Act) passed by NSW Parliament in June are designed to restore public confidence in the building industry and are based on broad engagement with industry stakeholders and the wider public.
The RAB Act comes into effect on 1 September 2020. It solidifies the powers of the regulator to investigate defects in residential apartment buildings, including requiring rectification of defective work and enforcing penalties.
The Office of the NSW Building Commissioner will have new resources on the ground in the lead up to 1 September to implement a new program of audits for buildings nearing completion and existing projects.
First steps for reporting apartment building defects
A common issue is that many owners of apartment buildings with material defects have not notified NSW Fair Trading of their problems – and sometimes the reporting is years after owners corporations first became aware of the issues.
NSW Fair Trading is the first point of contact for anyone with or unable to resolve a building defect problem with a building practitioner.
The Office of the NSW Building Commissioner is working closely with NSW Fair Trading to resolve problems when defects are reported – and we urge owners corporations to promptly report any concerns to NSW Fair Trading Make a Complaint as soon as they identify major defects to ensure the best outcome.
Owners corporations and their advisers have a duty of care to ensure defective buildings are being dealt with appropriately and in a timely manner to help protect existing and future owners.
Advice to buyers of new apartment buildings approaching completion
We’re less than two months away from the RAB Act coming into effect. Some developers may attempt to have occupation certificates approved ahead of this date when works may not be fully complete.
During this period, if apartment purchasers, builders and certifiers are being put under pressure to complete and/or settle when building work is clearly still happening, please contact NSW Fair Trading online.
The majority of developers are delivering quality compliant apartment buildings
While there are a small number of industry players who don’t do the right thing, the majority are good developers building good quality projects. Consumers can have increased confidence in the market if they or their advisers do a little homework.
Prospective buyers should ask developers about projects they have completed in the last six years. They could then do some research on these properties by inspecting and asking owners about their experience. They can also check NSW Fair Trading public registers for the compliance history and current status of contactors, tradespersons and builders.
NSW Fair Trading continues to remove registrations and licences from players not doing the right thing. There are several parties currently being reviewed, including certifiers, builders and tradespeople like waterproofing trades. Information regarding those players who have lost their licences can be checked via Service NSW.
Those developers, builders and certifiers not doing the right thing are on notice
Industry players that are doing the wrong thing – and developers that engage them – should be on notice that come 1 September, the goalposts will have moved. There will be consequences if they continue to serve up sub-standard buildings or certify projects that aren’t up to scratch. This includes manufacturers who are prepared to endorse substandard work.
Developers are also reminded that they are to have submitted their developer bonds and have as-built drawings and manuals available for their buildings prior to settlement.
We acknowledge that sometimes things may not always go to plan, and if this happens the Office of the NSW Building Commissioner and NSW Fair Trading is happy to work with developers and other parties in resolving any problems.
This post appears in Strata News #382.
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David Chandler OAM
NSW Building Commissioner at NSW Department of Customer Service
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