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Residential Focus: Changing of the guard – NSW Building Commissioner

15 May 2024

9 min read

#Property, Planning & Development

Published by:

Faith Zalm, Vishwa Shah

Residential Focus: Changing of the guard – NSW Building Commissioner

The first NSW Building Commissioner, David Chandler, has indicated that he will not seek renewal of his tenure when it expires in August.

Under his leadership, there has been significant reform to the residential building industry in New South Wales, with builders and developers being forced to address issues early, during audit processes and insurers re-entering the market.

Although a replacement is yet to be announced, builders and developers should not rest easy, after all, it is the office and not the incumbent that has the powers and the mandate for action and reform.

To learn about the Building Commission NSW read more in our article: Residential Focus: A new era for building industry regulation in NSW – what's next for claims?

Author: Christine Jones

In the media

Construction industry trials shorter workweek to boost worker wellbeing
Research conducted by RMIT University in collaboration with the Construction Industry Culture Taskforce (CICT) has shown that a five-day workweek could significantly improve the wellbeing of construction workers, with minimal impact on productivity. The interim report tracked five pilot infrastructure projects in Queensland that trialled a five-day workweek, aiming to address issues such as poor health and wellbeing, lack of time for personal life, and difficulty in attracting a diverse workforce (6 May 2024). Read more here.

Government to tip billions into new home builds in next week’s federal budget
The federal government will tip billions of dollars into building new homes in next week's federal budget, as it chases a promise to build 1.2 million new homes by 2030. $1 billion will be spent on crisis and transitional accommodation for women and children fleeing family violence and for youth through the National Housing Infrastructure Facility. The facility's scope was broadened to be able to fund social and affordable housing, as well as enabling infrastructure, and $700 million of the stepped-up funding will be dedicated to supporting crisis and transitional housing (10 May 2024). Read more here.

Millions pledged to cover fee-free TAFE to get more workers into housing construction
The federal government wants to find tens of thousands of workers to help build new homes in an attempt to address Australia's ongoing housing crisis. Next week's budget will include nearly $90 million to cover the education costs of 20,000 people which the government hopes will boost a sector in desperate need of more staff. It means 15,000 fee-free TAFE and VET places will be offered, with another 5,000 places in pre-apprenticeship programs provided over two years from 2025. The announcement comes after an independent report recently cast doubt on the federal government's target of building 1.2 million homes by 2029 (8 May 2024). Read more here.

Australia’s median rent surges to record heights with regions and outer suburbs feeling the heat
Rents have reached a record high with the national average now at $627, pushing renters further to the outskirts of capital cities. Annual rent growth began accelerating in 2024, with rents now 8.5 per cent higher than this time last year, according to the latest data from CoreLogic. "Not only are rents rising quickly, but they're rising at a bit of a faster pace than what we saw towards the end of last year," CoreLogic's head of research Eliza Owen said. The growth is most pronounced in regional Australia and the outer suburban areas of cities, Ms Owen said (6 May 2024). Read more here.

2024 Street Count shows the housing and rental crisis deepening across regional NSW
The number of people sleeping rough in NSW has continued to rise with regional areas experiencing the biggest surge in homelessness in the past year, while metro Sydney has stabilised. The NSW Government is working to address the worsening housing and rental crisis faced by so many people across the state. The government is working on several improvements including better short term rental accommodation, more public and social housing and exploring modular home solutions (10 May 2024). Read more here.

Look inside $45.3 million health worker accommodation project
Communities across regional NSW can now have their first look at a $45.3 million dollar NSW Government investment into key healthcare worker accommodation, set to be rolled out across Broken Hill, Balranald, Cooma, Finley, Leeton, Narrandera and West Wyalong. An off-site prototype unit has been completed alongside final artist impressions for each site, giving local communities their chance to view the modern and sustainable design of the new units. The units will support heath care workers looking to establish themselves in a new community by providing accommodation close to work. This is a key factor in attracting and retaining health workers at rural and regional hospitals (9 May 2024). Read more here.

NSW Government welcomes investment in construction skills sector
The NSW Government welcomes the $90.6 million investment by the Federal Government in skills training in the construction sector. An investment in additional Fee-Free TAFE places in construction related courses as part of the 2024-25 Federal Budget underscores the commitment at a State and Commonwealth level to reducing national skills gaps contributing to ongoing housing shortages across Australia (8 May 2024). Read more here.

Well-designed low and mid-rise housing is already in your backyard
Today, the NSW Government and the Government Architect NSW, is launching an interactive map to showcase some of the best there is to offer in well-designed low and mid-rise homes. This map not only highlights why good design is important, but it also showcases examples of these homes that are already in our backyard. Showing that these homes add to the value of a neighbourhood and complement the existing heritage and surroundings (3 May 2024). Read more here

In practice and courts

The NCC Public Comment Draft
The Public Comment Draft for the next edition of the National Construction Code is open from 1 May until 1 July 2024. The National Construction Code (NCC) Public Comment Draft (PCD) is your opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed changes to be made in the next edition of the NCC. The NCC is updated every 3 years, based on industry and public feedback and policy directions from governments between publishing cycles. In preparation for the next edition of the NCC, the ABCB seeks feedback from the public and industry on the NCC Public Comment Draft (1 May 2024). Read more and provide feedback here.

Consultation open: All-gender sanitary facilities
We are consulting on the potential inclusion of all-gender bathroom provisions in the National Construction Code (NCC). We want to hear if, and how, the suggested changes will impact your work. The suggested changes will enable practitioners to provide all-gender sanitary facilities alongside male, female and accessible facilities (8 May 2024). Read more here.


Non-conforming engineered wood products raise concerns in Australia
The Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia (EWPAA) has raised alarms about the increasing use of non-conforming and incorrectly branded timber products, particularly in the form of engineered wood products (EWP), being imported into Australia. In their recent report titled ‘Non-Conforming Timber Products Update 2024,’ the EWPAA highlighted the significant risks associated with the use of non-conforming EWP, such as laminated veneer lumber (LVL), in various building applications. The report emphasises the importance of builders, retailers, and consumers being vigilant and exercising due diligence when it comes to product claims and branding (02 May 2024). Read the article here. Access the report here.

Building Approvals, Australia – ABS
The latest release of ABS data provides the number of dwelling units and value of buildings approved for March 2024 in Australia. Access the publication here.


Yu v Commissioner for Fair Trading [2024] NSWCATOD 61
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – Home building – application for individual contractor licence – application of Instrument – experience requirements – ‘wide range of building construction work’.
Administrative Decisions Review Act 1997 (NSW); Home Building Act 1989 (NSW); Licensing and Registration (Uniform Procedures) Act 2002 (NSW).

Hawcroft v Building Commission NSW [2024] NSWCATOD 60
ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW – Home Building – application for variation of contractor licence – qualification and experience requirements set out in instrument issued by the Respondent – whether the applicant meets the requirements of the Instrument.
Administrative Decisions Review Act 1997; Home Building Act 1989; Mutual Recognition (New South Wales) Act 1992.

GMI Construction Pty Ltd v Keshavarz [2024] NSWCATAP 68
APPEALS – whether Tribunal denied the appellant procedural fairness by refusing its adjournment application – Whether Tribunal’s discretion miscarried when refusing adjournment application – whether Tribunal erred in finding that certain defects were “major defects” and that it had jurisdiction in relation to the respondents’ building claim – whether the Tribunal's findings that certain defects were “major defects” were made without probative evidence to support them – whether the Tribunal erred in finding that the appellant was a party to the home building contract with the respondents.  
Home Building Act 1989 (NSW); Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013 (NSW); Civil and Administrative Tribunal Rules 2014 (NSW).

Yu trading as Ebenesel Landscapes v Kong & Cha [2024] NSWCATAP 76
APPEALS – BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION – no error on a question of law established – whether the decision of the Tribunal was against the weight of the evidence - whether leave to appeal should be granted – whether the appellant has suffered a substantial miscarriage of justice.
Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013 (NSW); Home Building Act 1989 (NSW).


Bills introduced by Government
Property NSW Amendment Bill 2024 No 40 – passed LA 8 May 2024

Electricity Infrastructure Investment Amendment (Renewable Energy Sector Plan) Bill 2024 No 44 – introduced LA 9 May 2024
Residential Tenancies Amendment (Animals in Residential Premises) Bill 2024 No 42 – introduced LC 8 May 2024
Residential Tenancies Amendment (Prohibiting No Grounds Evictions) Bill 2024 No 42 – introduced LA 8 May 2024

Regulation and other miscellaneous instruments.
Newcastle Local Environmental Plan (Housing) (Map Amendment No 1) (2024-150) – LW 10 May 2024

The information in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this newsletter is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.

Published by:

Faith Zalm, Vishwa Shah

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