The NSW Government released its response to the Shergold Weir Building Confident Report on 19 February 2019, 3 days before the release of the final report into the Opal Tower on 22 February 2019.
The response from the NSW Government heralds important and significant changes to building laws in this state. Importantly:
- The appointment of a Building Commissioner to act as a consolidated building regulator. It would appear that Office of Fair Trading’s role in administering residential building work may be reduced.
- Compliance reporting will be overhauled. Amongst other changes, building practitioners involved in designing building will be required to submit building plans to the Commissioner for an audit. New offence provisions will be introduced for knowingly or recklessly declaring non-compliant plans or failing to lodge documents on time.
- Building practitioners with reporting obligations will need to be registered. It is not yet clear who will need to register, or what exemptions may apply.
- The introduction of an industry wide duty of care to homeowners.
The NSW Government should be commended for the introduction of an industry wide duty of care to homeowners. It means that homeowners and Owners Corporation rights to recover compensation from those involved in the construction of their building for defective building work will be increased. In so far as the industry is concerned, it should promote the improvement of the quality of construction in NSW.
The NSW Government will be working with the industry and community stakeholders to develop and implement the reforms. We will look closely at the proposed legislation and amendments to existing laws.