In July 2021, the Design and Building Practitioners Regulation 2021 (NSW) came into effect, and with it, a spate of new legal requirements for construction professionals. The Regulation clarifies practical applications of the Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 (NSW) and dovetails with the compliance requirements of the National Construction Code.

You’d be hard pressed to find a construction professional who says that effective waterproofing of wet areas is not an essential element to get right. However, despite being listed as a priority building element in the Act, the Regulation has left some aspects open to interpretation where waterproofing is concerned.

The NSW Government pushes for a ‘design, then construct’ approach which, as the name might suggest, means the onus is on the architect or engineer to design a building compliant with the NCC and relevant standards, and then falls onto the builder to ensure the construction meets those standards in practice. However, as happens from time-to-time, with dovetailing legislation, ambiguous language has raised questions as to where certain waterproofing requirements fit, and who is responsible for them.

At the core of the issue is confusion around situations where a design does not adhere to the deemed-to-satisfy provisions of the NCC, and the corresponding need for a report detailing the performance solution to be prepared in order to verify compliance with performance requirements. There are numerous common practices that fall into this basket where waterproofing is concerned; pavers on pedestals and flush transitions on balconies being two of the most prevalent.

But despite this being the case, among the 18 design practitioner registration classes listed by the NSW Government, waterproofing practitioners are not noted. This has led to a situation where waterproofing designs are commonly being developed by architects, builders, and specialist waterproofing consultants together, in order to ensure all solutions achieve the requisite performance and compliance requirements.

While this situation has arisen from a place of ambiguity, it has had a net positive effect as waterproofing experts are able to provide the site-specific information needed to inform designs, and overcome challenges during construction. While tempting, it’s not advisable for practitioners to rely on generic manufacturer-supplied information as this just doesn’t have the level of nuance and consideration required to make sure the process is a smooth one.

Where architects or builders are unsure of waterproofing requirements or how to meet them, the best course of action is usually to speak to a drainage expert who can assist with the project-specific information required. With over 30 years of experience, Stormtech have a range of experienced consultants available to provide input on any project.