Building developers must provide an expected date that they will apply for an occupation certificate. This notice must be provided at least 6 months in advance and no later than 12 months.
If notice is not provided, fines may apply and/or a prohibition order may be made that stops or delays an occupation certificate being issued. Notice can be given through the NSW Planning Portal or online via nsw.gov.au/construct-nsw.
A transitional period applies to developers with residential apartment buildings due for completion within the first six months of the Act starting 1 September 2020. In these cases, notice must be given within two weeks of the new legislation coming into effect.
The NSW Building Commissioner now has unprecedented powers to regulate and raise the standard of residential buildings in NSW. These powers are part of the OBC’s Construct NSW strategy to protect apartment owners and residents from poor construction.
A number of class 2 buildings will be selected for an Occupation Certificate Audit.
The audit involves a review of designs and documents (including contracts) and a physical inspection of the building construction. If inspectors find a serious defect, they can enforce action to stop work, order defects to be rectified, and delay the occupation certificate being issued.
Without an occupation certificate, the building can’t be occupied, and the sale of apartments can’t be settled, protecting buyers and residents from poor construction.
Authorised officers can:
enter building construction sites to do in-depth inspections without notice or permission
investigate, monitor and enforce compliance, determine if the building has serious defects, take and remove samples, and require records to be produced for inspection
demolish or open part of the building work if they have grounds to believe there is a serious defect.
While construction sites will be selected for audits based on regulatory insights that identify the most risky buildings, random selections will also be made.
All building defects and building-related complaints should always be reported in the first instance to NSW Fair Trading. Individual strata and community lot owners can report their issues herelodge complaints with the Office of Fair Trade.
Each complaint will be reviewed and assessed to identify the appropriate response. It is important to note that not every compliant will result in an investigation.
Caretakers and others who control access to areas of the common property will be obligated to cooperate with inspectors to enable the inspection to be carried out.
Starting 1 September is the requirement for developers to lodge the 2% strata bond and associated documents via the NSW Planning Portal. This replaces the Strata building bond and inspections scheme (SBBIS) e-Portal, which will remain available for existing projects.
The bond provides a fund for the owners corporation for post-construction repairs. Compliance checks will ensure the correct bond is lodged.
NSW Government is proactively addressing skills and learning gaps in the construction sector by creating, sponsoring and approving training courses through the a Learning Management System (LMS).
The first training course is Understanding Occupation Audits, which is now available. It is recommended for anyone involved in the new occupation certificate audit process – developers, builders, certifiers, suppliers, manufacturers.
The module takes approximately 2 hours to complete and is available for a free trial for the first 60 days. After the trial period, the training course will cost $140.
Access the Understanding Occupation Audits course by visiting the TAFE NSW website.
The Standard will apply to all registered certifiers undertaking certification work for new residential apartment buildings, being class 2 buildings under the Building Code of Australia (BCA) including multi-classified buildings which contain a class 2 part that are approved through the development application process.
This Standard is a formal and legal document under section 14 of the Building and Development Certifiers Act 2018. Section 14 of this Act provides that a registered certifier’s conditions of registration may require the certifier to carry out certification work in accordance with specified standards or methodologies.
The Standard was developed in full consultation with a reference panel that covered all the major relevant areas of the building sector and building regulation. The valuable contribution of all members of the reference panel and the working groups is fully acknowledged.
The Standard is intended to serve a number of important purposes:
To provide a clear, accessible and specified standard of what is expected of certifiers in undertaking their role and function,
To reinforce that the role of the certifier is different from builders and other building practitioners,
To make clear the professional obligations and conduct of certifiers as public officials, and
To enhance the accountability and responsibility of certifiers.
It is expected that the Standard will be a living document and change over time, including being expanded to other classes of buildings.