Unit Renovations – new compulsory class of licence – don’t mention the cost

Recently, there’s been a lot of press about multi-storey residential buildings and the deep concern around the sub-standard building work that has gone into creating them. The devastating effect on homeowners has been palpable. Having had the misfortune of buying a unit in one of these properties, many stand to potentially lose thousands should they choose to sell their heavily defective property. Leaking bathrooms, panels dropping off the sides of the building, cracks appearing in gyprock walls, or worse,  structural cracking that resulted in the entire building being evacuated for the safety of residences, the press has had an absolute field day bashing the industry – and rightly so.

It’s certainly not a good look for the industry, and with owners and investors wanting answers, and mounting pressure on the Government to do something, something had to crack.

The state government freaked out under mounting pressure as consumer confidence plummeted amid a total lack of trust in the home unit construction industry.

Scrambling, the NSW Government appointed a building commissioner to clean up the mess with the mandate to restore confidence in the minds of a very sceptical consumer market. The situation was out of control as more and more bad news reports came through in a rapidly declining situation. The building commissioner needed to restore confidence in the minds of consumers, and fast, as new buildings were quickly reaching the point of sale amid a collapsing multi-million dollars unit market.

Subsequently, the NSW state government legislated a new class of building license to ensure buyers were confident the unit they were about to purchase was built to the highest standards possible – without defects.

In effect, it is the license to rule all others. A license so powerful the recipient if found guilty of an offence could lose everything.  The imperative, and a mandatory requirement – professional indemnity insurance, to insure against such a consequence.

Conceived in secret in the bowels of bureaucracy, without consultation, the all-new building and construction practitioners license has given life to a new class of license for Architects, Engineers, Builders and Certifiers who engage in class 2 building work.

Class two buildings are residential units occupied by people living above and /or below other occupiers, three-storey walkups, or a twenty-storey residential buildings are class 2 buildings. The development could be under construction, or twenty years old, if work of a structural nature is being undertaken then all four practitioners are required to sign off on the D.A and construction certificate.

The documents for are then lodged on the recently created new government planning portal.

A typical scenario could be the removal of a structural wall to create a larger space, or a hole in the wall to open up the kitchen.  If that is the case then it is major building work and the services of the four practitioners are needed, with possibly more (hydraulic), depending on the overall scope of works.

Architectural Practitioners;

Building Practitioners;

Structural Engineering Practitioners, and;

Building Certifier Practitioners;

Four separate practitioners, all registered with the state government, must be engaged to oversee and undertake the work.

A builder’s licence no longer cuts it and they are not allowed to undertake the work – only building practitioners.

If work proceeds without the proper sign-offs the fines are astronomical, so forget using the traditional means of engaging a structural engineer or interior designer, it is not permissible.

The estimated additional cost before a brick is removed could be inexcess of $30,000 to $40,000 and that’s if you can find practitioners to underwrite the development.



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