From 1 July 2021, NSW Fair Trading is introducing changes to the residential building industry to restore consumer confidence and make sure that all apartment buildings meet Building Code of Australia (BCA) standards.
It follows the forced evacuation of ‘unsafe’ apartment buildings and a raft of shoddy residential construction quality complaints in recent years even as property prices surge in response to unprecedented demand and heightened interest in this asset sector.
The main legislation changes relate to Class 2 dwellings – multi-unit, multi-storey residential buildings – the category which is leading this latest surge in property development and investment. Among the changes are two new registration schemes for practitioners who work on buildings containing Class 2 dwellings: one for Professional Engineers, the other for designers and builders.
The NSW Government has suggested it may expand reforms to other classes of construction in the future.
Data Centres fast track building approvals to stimulate economy
At the same time, the Government is hoping to use Data Centres and the demand for them to fast track development approvals. The Government acknowledges long-time stakeholder frustration with bureaucratic hurdles to project development and, in the post-COVID environment, hopes Data Centre utilisation “will accelerate project delivery, create jobs and keep the economy moving.”
In conjunction with this, the new Class 2 development legislation “will save everyone involved time and money while avoiding disappointment and stress for customers,” the government says.
“The complying development pathway means projects that meet strict construction and building standards may be approved faster by council or an accredited certifier.”
SEPP changes are already here
The NSW Government introduced changes to exempt and complying development rules, effective from January 29 last. These were set out in the SEPP (State Environmental Planning Policy 2008) and reduce the scope for exempt and complying development – the result being that more development applications will be required for some projects.
It has been suggested that these changes were made hurriedly, without fanfare, and with little consideration given to stakeholders who would have been in the middle of development planning.
Large property owners and developers should also be aware of how these change the Commercial and Industrial Alterations Code.