New powers to tackle shoddy building work

A NSW government bill is aimed at restoring buyer confidence in new residential buildings .
A NSW government bill is aimed at restoring buyer confidence in new residential buildings .

The Berejiklian government says it's come up with a "game-changer" bill designed to weed out bad builders and restore confidence in the NSW construction industry following a spate of dodgy developments.

The Design and Building Practitioners Bill will require builders and designers to be registered, plans to be declared and designs to be compliant with the Building Code of Australia.

Builders will also have a duty of care to homeowners, which Better Regulation Minister Kevin Anderson says will make it easier to claim damages should things go wrong, without having to engage in a lengthy court battle.

Introducing the bill on Wednesday, the minister said the coalition was moving to improve building and construction standards in NSW.

"Today we start the process of restoring consumer confidence in the residential building markets," he told reporters in Sydney.

But Greens MP David Shoebridge claimed the bill had no substance, and lamented the fact it was not retrospective and therefore wouldn't help homeowners already having issues.

"This is an 'announceable' being dressed up as a serious response to the crisis in the building industry," he said.

"This bill delivers not one dollar to the thousands of homeowners struggling with building defects today."

The bill - introduced on Wednesday - is likely to be debated in a few weeks after scrutiny by the opposition.

Mr Anderson said failure to comply with the laws could incur fines up to $330,000 and two years jail.

The state's new building commissioner, David Chandler, said in August the industry's reputation needed to be restored following a series of incidents with cracked apartment blocks.

Or Wednesday he praised the fact builders would now be required to produce documentation "completely properly declared as being fit for construction".

Residents of the newly-built Opal Tower block in Sydney Olympic Park were forced out on Christmas eve after cracks sparked fears it could collapse, while those living in Mascot Towers had to leave in June due to cracking in the primary support structure and facade.

Acknowledging they would not be able to seek redress with this bill, Mr Anderson said the government had "drawn a line in the sand".

He said anyone with existing issues could go to third parties like owners corporations and insurance companies for help.

The minister argued prospective homeowners need to carry out "due diligence".

Australian Associated Press