Building reforms overview for practitioners

Hi, my name is Chris Powell I'm the stream lead for the building reform program under the PDI Act implementation.

And I am Anita Allen, the Manager of the Planning Reform Program and in DPTI.

So today we're just going to briefly discuss how the new planning system relates to the building industry.

So the key message for building industry professionals is that the implementation of this new Act will deliver important evolutionary reform to how the sector operates.

This is in slight contrast to the planning side which is seeing more of a revolutionary change with the Planning and Design Code. But certainly under the Act the aim is to ensure that all the building elements that are delivered are delivered to the same high standards as the planning elements, so we're keen to say that the purpose of this is threefold.

Those are the broad objectives.

So, just moving through the presentation.

There’s four elements on this slide and we'll just briefly describe how these impact the building industry and briefly step through these. These include the PDI Act in general, which provides the basis for new system, new regulations that will be delivered under the Act other instruments under the Act which are listed as well and the new ePlanning system which Anita will speak about briefly which is also under development.

So the PDI Act provides the basis for the reform building regulatory system.

The PDI Act is a Planning and Development Act which captures the whole development process right through from us, obviously strategic planning, through the design consent, construction approval as in the current Development Act ongoing maintenance of things like essential safety provisions. It's critical for practitioners to note that the PDI Act retains the concept of building consent which, with planning consent, provides the basis for development approval, so no change in that regard, and building consent also continues to be provided in South Australian building rules which comprises the National Construction Code with a new Code coming out in early 2019 and any South Australian variations.

So to move briefly to the regulations, there's four pieces of regulation which have been identified for drafting under the PDI Act which will impact on the building industry. These will collectively replace the current development regulations. These include new general regulations, new fees and charges, which will replace the current Schedule Six, new swimming pool regulations and the new Accredited Professional Scheme which you've probably already heard about.

There also be other instruments under the Act including new practice directions and guidelines as necessary, new Ministerial building standards and new inspection policies.

So, just jumping back for a second, to the general regulations. These will be prepared to better support improved performance integrity and accountability in the building system. Recently DPTI has pulled together a building reform working group with our quarter which was comprised of building officers, engineers and certifiers who have assisted the department in identifying key issues and opportunities in informing the new regulations.

That group's met about half a dozen times and we're taking on board their feedback now and the recommendations of this group will inform the new draft regulations which will be released in early 2019.

Some of the key messages were received from that group relate to need to improve engagement application and notification stages between the assessment process, increasing the number of inspections, improving the approval processes surrounding statements of compliance and certificates of occupancy, and improving the processes around specification installation and maintenance of ESPs or essential safety provisions.

Again, the focus is really on ensuring that new regulations improve the way the building regulatory system operates and again to deliver on those objectives of high quality, safe and well-constructed buildings for South Australia.

And the other three regulations there concerning fees and charges, pools and accredited professional will also support the delivery of a better system for the building industry, which includes adequate cost recovery, clear safety and upgrade requirements in relation to pools and clear accreditation and integrity schemes.

Moving on back to the other instruments.

So the Act also enables the preparation of practice directions and guidelines and these will be important to set out clear expectations for industry, and we'll also be preparing new Ministerial building standards under the Act. These replace the current Minister's building specs and these existing specifications - there's 12 of them - are now being reviewed and will be refreshed or consolidated as necessary to provide for clear building rules in the state and we'll be consulting on these instruments, obviously, prior to their approval.

I should - sorry - just to sit on the inspection policies for a moment. It's important to note that a big change under the PDI Act as it enables the State Planning Commission to issue new inspection policies. This is in contrast to the current system where councils can generate their own policies. So DPTI sees this is a key reform under the Act and we're now just beginning the process of analysing current inspection policies as they exist, and developing new ones which will be provided to the State Planning Commission for approval via the Commission's Building Committee.

It's important to note - the intention is that the new policies will have a positive impact on building professionals currently working within council in particular, particularly in empowering councils to ensure that buildings in the areas are delivered to a high standard and to ensure that any faults there might be detected on-site are rectified as quickly as possible.

The message we've heard to date is that councils do want to be doing more inspections and we'll be engaging in a lot of consultation with councils to look at the best way forward on this issue.

Anita, did you want to speak on ePlanning?

Yeah, I'll just talk a bit about the ePlanning solution and how it might apply in the building industry and in some respects it applies from two different angles.

One is if you're actually a builder who would like to construct something and find out how you might go about doing that and the other thing is if you're actually building certifier which is an authority under the PDI act and able to make certain types of building rules decisions.

So I think the exciting part about the ePlanning solution is it will be the central place for the lodgement of all development applications and that includes whether they're planning, building or land division.

So any land divisions or building applications will come through the central SA Planning Portal, where people be able to come in and search the rules that apply to them, particularly in relation to those looking at the planning rules for the first stage of your planning consent be able to go in there to we'll search the planning rules that apply to your property for the types of application that you would like to be lodging your application around, and to pull out those rules that affect you.

Once that happens, you can start to look at how your application progresses through the system. You can check in on it and see where it's at, see where it is in the process, and then the decision will be issued to you through the ePlanning solution at the end.

So it's an end-to-end solution that takes you all the way from lodgement right through to your decision and the whole lot is online.

From the other perspectives that it will improve processes for those who are lodging it as assessing it as a certifier, so if you're a building certifier, an application that's lodged online will be pushed out to you as an authority and you'll make your decisions and assessments through the SA Planning Portal, and at the end, all the documents and data and information is stored within the portal for future records. So from a records management perspective it makes it a lot easier to keep control over those building records and those decisions - and it also allows you to see through the SA Planning Portal whether other applications on the land have been lodged, so if you're looking at a building consent you can see that a planning consent has been issued and a whole range of other benefits for you going forward.

I think for people at the moment, looking at the planning system sometimes it looks overly complex and not all of the building industry would touch the planning system every day. They certainly know that when it affects them in terms of the planning rules for the local areas. So at the moment we do have our 72 development plans which proponents and developers need to wade through to find out how the playing rules affect them and we're moving to a system where we'll have one Planning and Design Code which will replace that.

That Planning and Design Code will be fully electronic and searchable through the SA Planning Portal, so it will be very easy to find out how the rules affect you. So supporting all of that the system is a large reforms particularly, as Chris has said, on the planning side and one of the new aspects of it is the accreditation scheme.

So the accreditation scheme is about building the community understanding of the planning and building profession as professional industries that do make quite serious decisions for our communities. And people have an expectation that the people that are making these decisions are well qualified, have the right level of experience to be making those choices for our communities going forward.

So the accreditation scheme is about that, and making sure that people are that have the right experience.

We've just finished our consultation around the accreditation scheme, and we've got some really great feedback from people from a whole range of professions including the building profession. We'll be working with AIBS and others on Master Builders, HIA on how we make sure that that accreditation scheme works really well for you.

So now that we have that feedback, we're just working through how we resolve all the matters that have been raised and hopefully we'll have the accreditation scheme up and running by February next year.

With the introduction of our first Planning and Design Code in February or July - sorry - middle of next year, it will be the time when some building certifiers who deal with the outback areas in particular may need to be accredited. We've set up a transition process that will now enable people who are already accredited under the Development Act to transition straight over under the PDI Act.

However, when their accreditation lapses or is finished from what they have now, then they'll need to come into our system and become accredited under the PDI Act. So we do have a bit of breathing space for people to have adequate time to become accredited.

For those who are operating in the regions, you'll not won't need to be accredited until close to the end of 2019. And for those operating in the metropolitan area you will need to be accredited by July 2020.

So to wrap it all up, there is a lot going on in his space at the moment and Chris is certainly building busy in our building reform program and we are keen to work really closely with you to make sure that the reforms that we make do the best that they can for the for the industry as a whole.

We have an industry awareness session which we're running in early 2019 and we really encourage you all to come along so that we can have a great conversation about what this means for you.

We're also developing a whole lot of information for you that you can understand more specifically what the changes mean for your industry and not just the industry as a whole.

So if you would like to get any more information of course you can give Chris a call - or myself - or you can contact us at DPTI dot planning reform at SA dot gov dot au.

Thanks very much.