The Design and Practitioners Building Act, which took effect on June 11, 2020, was introduced as a bill after the recent highly-publicised events surrounding combustible cladding. The new building laws are designed to regulate the activities of design and building contractors working in construction. Following the legislation of the act, all building designs must comply with the Building Code of Australia. Similarly, construction methods must comply with BCA standards.
Presently, 97% of residential apartment buildings in New South Wales include at least one defect. While 50-60% of these relate to design issues, the remaining buildings suffer the consequences of improper construction practices. The most common defects relate to cladding, passive fire protection and waterproofing.
Despite the proliferation of such defects, previous decisions by the High Court of Australia have established that there is no duty of care between builders and owners corporations for economic loss resulting from improper building design or construction. This means owners have had to foot the cost for any defects after builder’s warranties expire (six years for major defects, two years for non-major defects).
Key changes in the new building laws:
- A duty of care is now in place to ensure building owners are not responsible for economic loss resulting from improper building design and construction.
- All designers, engineers and construction contractors must register on a publicly available list of practitioners before engaging in construction work.
- Design and construction contractors must provide a guarantee that building standards are in line with the Building Code of Australia before an occupancy certificate is issued.
- Providers of compliance guarantees must be insured before providing their declaration.
- The Secretary of the Department of Customer Service now has grounds to take disciplinary action against a registered practitioner. Disciplinary action may include fines or suspended registration.
- Stop work orders may be issued by law enforcement if building design and construction is not compliant with BCA standards.
Architects’ compliance declaration
Architects are now required by the new building laws to declare whether or not their building design complies with the Building Code of Australia. They must also declare if any other standards or codes have been used during design.
According to the Building Code of Australia, architects, designers, engineers and other specialists involved in the planning, design and construction of buildings must ensure that any products, materials or systems specified or approved for use in their designs are approved as well as ‘fit for purpose’, and meet the necessary performance requirements. When designing fire safety features such as fire shutters, smoke curtains, fire windows, fire doors and smoke vents, architects may use products supplied by Smoke Control.
Smoke Control fire safety products meet and exceed Building Code of Australia standards and exceed minimum fire and smoke testing requirements too. Our products are frequently tested by the Warnock Hersey Mark Framework, the world’s largest product compliance scheme. Our manufactured goods are consistently compliant with fire test approvals and should not be substituted with any other similar product.
By specifying approved products in building design and construction, architects can ensure that they are compliant with the new laws. Architects can be confident they will pass mandatory critical stage inspections by using safe and certified materials supplied by Smoke Control in the design of fire and smoke compartmentation in building construction.
Contact Smoke Control for fire protection systems
Smoke Control supplies and installs fire curtains, fire shutters, smoke curtains, fire windows, fire resistant glazing, smoke vents, sliding fire doors and other speciality systems in buildings across Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Contact our technical team if you have any questions about how to protect your property from fire hazards. We’ll recommend products based on your situation and will install everything for an affordable fee.