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Building defects: City Futures’ submissions to the NSW government

Posted by on August 12th, 2019 · Construction, Government, Housing, Housing conditions, Strata, Sydney

By Caitlin Buckle, City Futures Research Centre.

The public discussion around building defects has been heating up lately. In response, NSW Fair Trading have proposed a number of reforms to the building process, and the NSW Parliament’s Public Accountability Committee commenced a parliamentary inquiry into the regulation of building standards, building quality and building disputes. City Futures has shared our perspective on these issues in two written submissions, which can be accessed here.

The NSW Fair Trading  discussion paper ‘Building Stronger Foundations’ was open for submissions until the 24th July, outlining a range of possible reforms. The reforms up for discussion included:

  • the appointment of a Building Commissioner (who has since been appointed);
  • registration and greater responsibilities for building designers; and
  • ensuring an industry-wide duty of care is owed to subsequent home-owners.

The terms of reference for the parliamentary inquiry cover a broader range of issues relating to building defects, including other consumer protections like insurance, and the role of strata committees. Submissions closed on the 28th July.

Our submissions drew on findings from over 10 years of research into strata living, including past research projects Governing the Compact City and City Living, and our current project focused on building defects in apartments (Cracks in the Compact City). The submissions emphasize the emotional and financial challenges faced by owners and tenants of defective buildings. We outline our support for extending the duty of care owed to home-owners, and greater oversight of strata development by the Building Commissioner. There remain other issues that the reforms should also address, however, such as the need for extended timeframes for building defect claims, and the difficulty owners and purchasers face in trying to obtain information about a building’s quality.

Public hearings are currently being held as part of the parliamentary inquiry, with CFRC’s Hazel Easthope and Laura Crommelin invited to provide evidence on the 16th August.

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