The Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) has delivered a mixed review of the draft legislation for the Design and Building Practitioners Bill 2019.
While the AIPM has acknowledged that the draft legislation – put forward by the NSW Government’s Better Regulation Division – is an important step towards curbing the systematic failure of organisations failing to comply with building codes, it does not extend compliance far enough.
"AIPM believes the aims of the Bill are admirable and in line with community expectations," the industry body wrote in its response. "The obligations of building practitioners are well-defined; however, the Bill currently limits its focus on designers and constructors and ignores broader project management and certifier compliance. Obligations remain limited, and not extended across the full process of building work."
A particular area of concern is the draft legislation's definition of a practitioner as a "design practitioner, principal design practitioner or building practitioner". This limited definition overlooks other practitioners involved in the process who are no less responsible for ensuring work is completed in line with a concept design as well as building codes and standards.
"There needs to be a commitment to compliance providing adequate coverage of the full design process, and this can’t be achieved by the current definition of practitioner in the Bill", says Elizabeth Foley, CEO at AIPM.
Another issue highlighted by the AIPM is education and the expectation of prior knowledge. Foley says that lax leadership and management in the construction industry is a key explanation for a building project's failure to comply with the Building Code of Australia's (BCA) performance requirements.
"We have university graduates coming straight out of classrooms and given tasks they are not experienced in, with no practical building knowledge and, more importantly, they do not have the skills or confidence to communicate with tradespeople and builders alike."
The Design and Building Practitioners Bill 2019 has been drafted in response to the Shergold-Weir Report of 2018, which produced 24 recommendations to improve compliance and enforcement systems in the building and construction industries.
Key reforms under the Draft Bill surround:
- Regulated designs. Regulated designs are "a design of a class prescribed by the regulations that is prepared for building work", such as a building element or performance solution for a building element.
- Compliance declaration by designers. Design practitioners must declare that their designs comply with the BCA.
- Compliance declaration by builders. As above, building practitioners must declare that their work is completed in accordance with declared designs and complies with the BCA.
- Variations to declared designs. Any variations must be declared, prepared and documented by the design practitioners.
- Duty of care to the land owner. Owners and subsequent owners of land are owed owed a duty of care by the person who carries out construction work to exercise reasonable care to avoid economic loss caused by defects.
Image: Pixabay via Pexels.com