Building Trust - Worthy of Building

The residential building sector is a key driver of economic growth in Sydney and the State, employing hundreds of thousands of workers along with allied businesses and suppliers. Last year over 52,000 new dwellings were started across NSW, but recent forecasts predict that number to fall to 37,000 in 2020 and just 27,000 in 2021, the lowest since the global financial crisis over a decade ago.

The Covid-induced recession, reduced overseas immigration and a fall in public confidence to buy new and off-the-plan apartments, has meant that the number of new homes forecast to commence in NSW next year is half that in 2019. Not only does this put tens of thousands of jobs at risk, it strikes at the heart of the economy.

Over twelve months has passed since David Chandler was appointed as the inaugural NSW Building Commissioner. Driven by the highly publicised instances of poor-quality construction such as the Opal Towers his mission defined then, was to restore confidence in the building and construction industry. Today in the Covid climate this mission of ensuring trustworthy buildings are delivered for sale has only more critical.

With over forty years’ industry experience, David Chandler, has been furiously working on a transformation agenda to create a ‘modern’ construction industry. From regulation, ratings systems, building skills and capabilities to enhance procurement and technology integration changes are afoot from the design through to completion stage.

Chandler skilfully balances the carrot and stick approach with enhanced inspection powers to hold the serial offenders and escape artists to account and after July 2021 and new mandatory minimum design documentation required before concrete is poured rather than after.

Raising industry standards will also be supported by enhanced accountability measures such as Audits of Occupational Certificates as well as holding up examples that shine a light on high quality and trustworthy developers, builders, tradespeople, materials suppliers, and installers. The Commissioner believes companies like Billbergia, Meriton and Laing O’Rourke can lead by example in raising standards of construction that consumers expect.

Introduction of legislation like the new Design and Building Registration Act is likewise one of the many actions introduced by the Commissioner to ensure a duty of care and compliance from builders, that put the consumer at the centre of the industry. As is greater of use technology including enhanced access to digital data in the design, engineering and building phases, to make it easier to monitor and assess compliance and maintain construction standards.

As the State government and local councils work to reduce approvals times and cut red tape that hold up development, the work of Commissioner Chandler and his team will be vital to ensuring that once approved, new residential developments are built well, restoring confidence in consumers to purchase properties they can trust in being of a standard they demand. The combined efforts of the Commissioner and the industry will go a long way to restore integrity, build trust, build building that are worth trusting. It will also rebuild this vital part of the economy and provide much-needed employment across the city and the State.

Sydney Business Chamber held an online forum with David Chandler OAM, NSW Building Commissioner, NSW Department of Customer Service on 24 September 2020. Hear more in the podcast and video.


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Media contact: David Peters 0413 872 491

Sydney Business Chamber had been the leading voice for business in Sydney for 200 years. We advocate, influence, and deliver policies and outcomes to drive economic growth and create opportunities to invest, work, live and visit our city.

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David Peters

Public Affairs Manager, Sydney Business Chamber