3 December 2023

NSW Building Commissioner to crack down on sector's poor practices with new laws

| James Day
Start the conversation
Fair Trading officers walking with Australian Border Force officers on a sidewalk.

In October, NSW Fair Trading officers collaborated with the Australian Border Force for a one-day operation targeting illegal practices on residential building projects. Nine unlicensed contractors were identified and issued an on-the-spot fine. Photo: NSW Fair Trading.

The NSW Government has announced major reforms aimed at cracking down on poor practices in the building sector.

Under the new laws, Building Commissioner David Chandler will have the power to enter any apartment or free-standing home in NSW. The Commissioner will also have the power to uncover defects before buildings are completed and compel builders to get them fixed.

Building Commission NSW will also receive a $24 million funding boost, which will allow it to scale up to ensure quality buildings are being delivered in NSW.

Ramping up the regulator’s powers will ensure that as the state meets the urgent need for more homes, buyers can be confident about the quality of what they’re purchasing.

“We’re delivering more homes across the state but we won’t let quantity get in the way of quality,” NSW Premier Chris Minns said.

“Home buyers in NSW can be confident that we’ve got a tough cop on the beat in the building industry, ensuring that they can have confidence in the quality of the home they’re buying.”

READ ALSO NSW social housing maintenance system to be brought back under government control

The new laws also make some critical changes to improve compliance and enforcement across the construction industry.

This includes regulations to prevent and penalise intentional phoenixing activities by cancelling or refusing licences.

Phoenixing is an illegal practice that usually happens when company directors abandon a company or transfer a business of an existing company to a new company without paying true or market value, which leaves debts to the old company. Once the assets are transferred over to the old company, it is placed in liquidation or abandoned.

There will also be new measures to ensure all products across the building supply chain are safe, compliant and suitable for their intended use.

These changes follow the NSW Government’s recent commitment to developing a pattern book of endorsed housing designs for low and mid-rise buildings of up to six storeys.

READ ALSO National ban on deadly engineered stone to be decided at upcoming meeting of Commonwealth Ministers

Minister for Building, Fair Trading and Better Regulation Anoulack Chanthivong said the new laws will mean “grifters in the sector will have nowhere to hide”.

“New powers for the Building Commissioner are a critical step forward as we rebuild integrity in the NSW construction sector. There is no room in this state for rip-off merchants taking home buyers for a ride,” said.

“We’ve already started the work required to weed out untrustworthy players in the market, with these new powers we’ll be doing even more.”

The changes come as the NSW Government continues its crackdown on dishonest or fraudulent practices in the building sector. In the last year, four building certifiers have had their licences cancelled by the state government due to unsatisfactory professional conduct and other contraventions.

Most recently on 6 October, Fair Trading found Joseph Hallal engaged in unsatisfactory professional conduct, contravened the certification legislation and engaged in conduct that fell short of expected standards.

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.