Understand the new obligations for professionals working on Class 2 Buildings—the changes that you should be aware of, who needs to register, and how to comply with it.
Published 31 Jan 2023
The Design and Building Practitioners Act (D&BP Scheme) came into effect on July 1, 2021, and it sets new obligations for professionals who work on Class 2 buildings in New South Wales, Australia. As part of the reform of Construct NSW, changes have been implemented in the residential building industry to restore consumer confidence and ensure that the apartments being built are of high standard. It imposes a duty of reasonable care on builders, designers, and suppliers in order to avoid economic damage caused by building defects.
The D&BP Scheme is composed of three main parts: the Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 (the D&BP Act), the Design and Building Practitioners Regulation 2021 (the D&BP Regulation), and the Ministerial Order 2021.
The D&BP Scheme applies to buildings that are Class 2, or contain a Class 2 component. According to the Building Code of Australia Building Classifications, Class 2 Buildings are:
“A building containing 2 or more sole-occupancy units each being a separate dwelling.”
This category includes multi-unit residential buildings or apartments in which residents live above or below one another, as well as single-story attached residential buildings with a common space below (residential above a common car park).
Illustration from Office of the Building Commissioner, NSW Government
While Class 2 buildings were identified as the highest priority, the NSW Government intends to expand the extent of the reforms to include other types of construction in the future.
There are a number of key changes to be aware of with this reform, namely:
Part of the residential building industry reforms are two new registration schemes for Class 2-related work—Registration of professional engineers and Compliance Declaration Scheme for Design and Building Practitioners (D&BP). As listed by the NSW Government, below are the professionals who need to register:
Professional engineers who need to register under the D&BP Scheme:
Classes of design practitioner:
Classes of building practitioner:
Classes of principal design practitioner:
These changes are being implemented to guarantee that buildings are safe and secure, that the industry is more customer-focused, and that better data is collected throughout the building life cycle.
For Class 2 building work, there are new requirements for registered people to declare:
As explained by the NSW Government, regulated designs include plans, specs, and reports detailing a design. These are the designs prepared for a building element or a performance solution intended for building work. Building work refers to the construction, alteration, addition, repair, renovation, or protective treatment of a Class 2 building.
They must be lodged before building work commences to ensure that the building practitioner has all critical designs. Practitioners are also required to rectify design issues before construction begins—saving everyone involved time and money as well as meeting customer expectations. This is a solution tailored to meet the requirements in the Building Code of Australia.
For the D&BP Scheme, building element means any of the following:
These are considered important as they are likely to have a greater impact on the safety and quality of construction in a building. Other types of work such as interior design, surveying, painting or landscaping, are generally not covered in this scheme.
It is imperative for all project managers to ensure that their design team is registered so that any alterations or amendments to regulated designs can be certified with a Design Compliance Declaration (DCD).
Regulated designs, compliance declarations and associated documents must be lodged in the NSW Planning Portal at the following stages:
These changes form part of the NSW Government’s response to the Shergold Weir Building Confidence Report that committed to strengthening compliance in the building sector. Find more information about new obligations – designs and declarations and declaration and lodgement processes.
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Loida Bauto is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. An Interior Designer by training, she began to pursue her passion for writing in 2017. Her interests involve a diverse range of topics such as Disability, Universal Design, and Sustainability, among other matters that aim to improve the world we live in. She is a self-published book author in 2018 and 2021.
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