18 November 2019
There is currently an apartment defects crisis with large numbers of newer buildings affected by problems from leaking roofs to uninstalled fire safety systems caused by poor design and construction.
With the media attention on the Opal and Mascot tower buildings where defects are so bad owners can’t live in their homes, confidence in buying a new apartment has hit at an all-time low and the government introduced a much needed regime to ensure that key parts of design and construction work are done by expert practitioners who sign off that the work complies with building codes and reflects initial designs. While this may seem basic, it doesn’t happen now and was a key recommendation in the important Shergold and Weir report on building construction.
Much of the detail in the bill was left to the regulations so I worked with the minister to ensure important safeguards commence immediately including to apply the new statutory duty of care that allows owners to sue for negligence retrospectively – a massive win for consumers. The government supported my amendments to apply the new scheme immediately to fundamental aspects of building work, for transparency of all contractors and subcontractors who work on a building and to prevent the issue of occupation certificates until the certifier sees all compliance declarations.
I also moved amendments to close loopholes in building warranties that allow developers to draft crafty contracts to escape liability. While the government did not support the changes, the minister promised to consider the changes in the next stage of reforms and if this does not happen I will introduce a private members bill.
While the bill will not solve all problems with defects, it is a good start and I will work towards further laws to restore confidence in the building industry and help owners already affected. My speech and amendments: HERE