In November 2021, NSW Fair Trading began audits on the work of registered Design Practitioners and Building Practitioners and their compliance with the Design and Building Practitioners (DBP) Act.
This means all registered Design Practitioners who prepare regulated designs, like architects and Building Practitioners who are the principal contractor for the building site, like Project Managers and builders are being audited.
What is a Design and Building Practitioner Audit?
The audit is a systematic process to objectively evaluate the compliance of Design and Building Practitioners with the DBP Act to make sure all practitioners are accountable.
The Audit also focuses on a practitioner's conduct as well as projects with high complexity or the potential to impact a large number of people.
Auditors will use complaints data and other intelligence about the practitioner’s conduct to choose candidates for audits.
Why are Fair Trading Doing an Audit?
Doing audits on certain Design and Building practices builds trust in the building and construction industry and will help continue to make sure all building structures have a certain level of compliance with the legislation by registered practitioners. It will also identify any concerns relating to registered practitioner conduct.
If chosen as a candidate for Fair Trading, this is the process they will likely follow.
Fair Trading will:
- Identify building projects for design audits.
- Obtain DA and CC (e-planning portal)
- Check if construction has commenced before lodging declared designs.
- Confirm all declared design requirements have been lodged.
- Confirm all design practitioners are appropriately registered.
- Confirm all design practitioners hold the required insurance.
- Obtain engagement contracts from designers.
- Assess contracts against model provisions.
Fair Trading will do an initial assessment of design documentation/compliance declarations.
If Fair Trading has any technical questions they will refer any questions to an external technical expert. Their expert panel will provide them with their observations and once those questions are resolved or if they have no technical questions, they will review any compliance issues.
If Fair Trading find there are compliance issues, they will:
- Issue the designer a warning.
- If it's warranted, they'll seek a written undertaking
- If it's justified, Fair Trading will issue a Stop Work Order.
- If there are no compliance issues, they will communicate their findings to the registered designers and conclude the audit.
The actual process used during an audit process may vary depending on the practitioner.
What happens if you fail an Audit?
Failing to comply with the DBP Act could result in a warning, fine, or prosecution.
What Audits have Fair Trading done in the past?
To date, Fair Trading has conducted audits identifying issues with:
- Poor integration of designs:
- Basement design not properly integrated with geotechnical design
- Structural engineering design not referencing regulated design for shoring/ piling
- Failure to reference latest versions of other integrated designs
- Staged construction certificate for basement slabs only covers structural and hydraulic designs with no reference to architectural, mechanical, electrical or fire services designs
- Design for waterproofing of certain structural elements did not properly integrate structural design and architectural design
- Non-compliance with requirements of BCA:
- Spoon drain penetrating fire-rated walls
- Fire pump room without enough circulation space for NSW Fire and Rescue
- Floor waste and down pipe in fire isolated stair
- Design compliance declaration missing accurate drawing list
- Lack of design detail – including lack of clarity in drawing notes and insufficient detail about building products
- Correct design declarations and associated design documents not uploaded and lodged by building practitioners.
- In November 2021, NSW Fair Trading began audits on the work of registered Design Practitioners and Building Practitioners and their compliance with the DBP Act.
- Auditors will use complaints data and other intelligence about the practitioner's conduct to choose candidates for audits.
- The purpose of the audit is to help build trust in the building and construction industry and mitigate any risks.
- If you fail the audit and you have not complied with the DBP Act, it could result in a warning, fine, or prosecution.
This is a summary of the Fair Trading ‘Foundations’ Newsletter.