When it comes to apartment living, the term high-rise is often linked to high-risk. Recent research by the Office of the Building Commissioner found 39% of apartment buildings completed in the past six years had serious defects, predominantly with waterproofing, fire safety systems and structural work. Public confidence in new apartment developments is at an all-time low. 

Despite the availability of great resources such as Fair Trading's buying a property guide, the NSW Planning Portal or NSW Land Registry, many decisions are still being made without critical information when purchasing a property, or when managing or rectifying issues. Only 15% of defects are reported to NSW Fair Trading. 

This lack of transparency has been difficult to overcome due to siloed legacy systems across government departments that aren’t connected. This inefficient fragmentation has allowed companies and individuals to avoid compliance, making it challenging to enforce regulation. 

The NSW Government is committed to restoring consumer confidence in the residential building and construction industry through the Construct NSW transformation strategy.

“The NSW Government has undertaken revolutionary reform in the building and construction sector, creating a more secure and more transparent market to aid consumers, investors and developers,” Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation, Kevin Anderson said. 

“It's important that consumers have access to all necessary information when they're making a decision to invest, which is why we have introduced an abundance of legislation to address issues across the industry.

“Transparency, accountability and quality of work are three critical areas that, once improved, will steer the building industry back on track and will aim to rebuild confidence for property owners and investors.”

 

Buildings

Building a digital future

This is where the eConstruction Program comes in. Supported by almost $23 million from the Digital Restart Fund, the program aims to digitally transform the building lifecycle to ensure NSW produces trustworthy residential buildings. 

New digital platforms will aim to improve functionality and quality assurance for customers, regulators, insurers, suppliers and builders, including: 

  • A public digital framework for capturing, storing and sharing building related data.
  • A digital twin offering virtual representation for building products, practitioners and buildings.
  • A building assurance solution to provide a register of certificates, aggregate composite risks and derive a Trustworthy Index for buildings. 

What does this mean? Owners, renters, industry stakeholders and the regulator will have access to a single source of accessible information for all building documentation. Not only is this transparency expected to help inform decisions, it will also increase industry accountability to support regulators to better enforce standards. 

“We’re focused on changing the game before buildings are finished, rather than after they've been damaged and left to the consumer to sort out,” NSW Building Commissioner, David Chandler said. “Without digital capabilities, shifting from a reactive to a proactive response wouldn’t have been possible.”

Building better outcomes

Due to be completed by 2025, the eConstruction Program brings significant change to the NSW Government’s approach and role in regulating the sector. 

  • Consumers, workers, businesses and the community will be protected from non-compliant business practices. 
  • Customers will be able to make more informed decisions about the scheme they are investing in. 
  • An increase in the number of government services where consumers only need to tell us once when providing their details across a broad range of services.
  • Greater transparency to put pressure on strata scheme managers and developers to improve performance.
  • Industry will find it easier to comply with obligations.
  • Regulators will be able to adopt a risk-based approach to maximise effectiveness and lift the performance of the sector.

“The NSW Government is so excited by this progress,” Mr Chandler said. “I can assure you things are changing and they're not going back to where they were.”