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Getting used to the Design and Building Practitioners Act

Getting used to the Design and Building Practitioners Act

Builders, designers, and certifiers are still adjusting to the new Design and Building Practitioners legislation (the DBP) that impacts class 2 projects. Fair Trading has provided the following information to provide clarity on some aspects of the DBP that have been raised in recent industry feedback.

Staging and design declarations

In a staged development, there will be a set of designs relating to just a portion of the overall building. Some stages are relatively small, for example, the construction of just 3 floors of a building.

A designer may not have been involved in the previous building work or the preparation of those designs. This could be because they are a new appointment as part of a change by the client or that the previous stage of work was not relevant to their particular discipline.

It is not possible to prepare compliant designs for secondary stages without considering the nature of what has already been completed. For this reason, the DBP requires designers to take into account all relevant aspects of the previous stage of work, regardless of when they were engaged.  For designers to be able to satisfy themselves about the nature of the previous work they will need to see as much evidence as possible including designs, as-built plans, specifications, and compliance certificates. It is also recommended that they undertake physical site inspections.

Declared designs and Building Certificates

The Design Practitioners Handbook lists the type of details that should be incorporated into relevant regulated designs. These lists are not exhaustive and are simply intended to guide practitioners as to the type of information that is required. Whether a design is a ‘regulated design’ needs to be determined by assessing whether it is related to a key building element or performance solution. Also, regulated designs must contain all of the necessary detail to produce building work that would achieve compliance with the BCA.

A certifier is not able to issue a CC or CDC for class 2 projects (including mixed-use) within the scope of the DBP unless they are provided with each design compliance declaration and its corresponding regulated design for the building work being proposed in the certificate. This requirement is stated in clause 29 of the DBP Act and mentioned in the Design Practitioners Handbook (page 18). It is the responsibility of the designers and builder to provide this information to the certifier. 

Getting organised by appointing a lead designer

The DBP requires a significant amount of design work to be produced before work can start, and there will be delays and confusion if this does not occur in an organised way. Fair Trading has observed that a common feature of projects that are struggling is the lack of a lead designer.

Builders should consider appointing an architect or engineer to be responsible for coordinating the work of the other designers. It would also be beneficial for practitioners to have undertaken the learning module on multi-disciplinary design integration which is available on the Construct NSW portal. This learning module was developed in partnership with the Property Council Academy to highlight the key coordination and integration processes that need to occur to deliver an efficient D&C project.

Some projects have attempted to have their certifier play a role in coordinating designs. This is not permitted as it is illegal for a certifier to provide professional services related to design or construction. This restriction is stated in the Certifier Practise Standard (page 11). 

The responsibility for preparing and organising regulated designs sits with the designers and builders.


Source: Matt Press, Director - Construct NSW, Office of the Building Commissioner

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