Property Australia

Are you ready for building reforms?

Karen Jamal Karen Jamal July 6, 2021

The NSW Government’s new building reforms elevate the role of fire engineers on multi-storey residential projects, says Omnii’s chief executive officer, Wayne Bretherton.

“Omnii has always seen the fire engineer’s role as a collaborative one, helping the entire team produce cohesive fire safety designs,” Bretherton says.

“The NSW Government’s building reforms really serve to emphasise that perspective by mandating fire engineers’ involvement in the whole design and construction process, from concept to completion.”

The NSW Government's Design and Building Practitioners ACT (2020) outline rigorous reforms that will change the way design practitioners and builders work on multi-storey residential building projects.

The reforms were introduced on 1 July 2021 to restore consumer confidence and ensure that apartments being built are trustworthy. This followed several high-profile cases of building defects in Australia, including a serious fire in Melbourne’s Lacrosse tower that was fuelled by combustible cladding.

The NSW Government is starting with class 2 buildings – typically multi-unit, multi-storey residential buildings. While this is considered the highest priority, the reforms will be expanded to other classes of construction in the future.

“The DBP Act will operate under the pillars of safety, accountability and compliance, driven by the fact that many of the defects in class 2 buildings were found to have been caused by poor quality and poor coordination of designs,” Bretherton notes.

NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler OAM has already placed prohibition orders on several apartment buildings for failing to meet critical benchmarks, including for fire safety.

Bretherton says the DBP Act’s approach is similar to the idea of the ‘golden thread’ proposed in the United Kingdom following the Grenfell Tower fire which claimed the lives of 72 people.

“This golden thread of information for all complex and high-risk building projects requires the original intent of the fire safety design to be clearly documented and consistently applied from project inception.

“We’re going to see the role of the fire engineer elevated throughout the construction phase, so that their declared designs are fully understood and implemented.”

Bretherton welcomes the changes in NSW, which align with Omnii’s vision, values and culture.

“Omnii is committed to the highest professional and ethical standards and have always looked to challenge ourselves and our industry. It’s what drives our culture and pushes us to uncover approaches and solutions that are resolved from every angle – commercially, socially and aesthetically.”

Omnii has recently held its own organisation up to the same level of scrutiny, resulting in a brand revitalisation.

“After the dust settled, we distilled our character, our beliefs and values, and our identity,” Bretherton adds. Omnii’s brand now has a new look and feel that “better reflects our ambitions and our commitment to the highest quality advice and expertise”.

“The DBP Act is a great step forward for our profession. It also represents business as usual for Omnii.”

Find out more about Omnii, a pure-play fire consultancy providing both fire safety engineering and fire protection services.