Lot owners who wish to carry out works to their apartment will need to consider whether the works they want to carry out will be subject to provisions under the Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020  (DBPA) including the requirement for building professionals to be registered under the Act and register designs for the proposed work on the NSW Planning Portal

The starting point is to consider whether the designs for the works need to be registered under the DBPA, and thereafter whether those works will need to be carried out by a registered practitioner under the DBPA.

The DBPA applies to any class 2 building (or building with a class 2 component).Class 2 buildings are residential apartment buildings. They are typically multi-unit residential buildings. The National Construction Code describes the space which would be considered the apartment as a sole-occupancy unit (SOU). Class 2 buildings may also be single storey attached dwellings where there is a common space below. For example, two dwellings above a common basement or carpark.. So if your lot is a residential lot in a strata scheme, the DBPA may apply to your works.

The DBPA defines works as the construction of a class 2 building, alterations or additions to a class 2 building, the repair and the renovation or protective treatment of a class 2 building. The definition is broad. Therefore, it is useful to consider the exemptions.

The following work is exempt:

  • work that is an “exempt development” as defined by the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979
  • work that is waterproofing to a bathroom, kitchen, laundry or toilet provided it’s part of an “exempt development” and is work to a single dwelling
  • work that is carried out pursuant to an order (such as an order of the Tribunal or from your local council)
  • work that is exempt from the Building Code of Australia
  • work that is a repair, renovation or protective treatment that involves plumbing, electrical or mechanical service and is for the purpose of maintaining a component of a system in the building
  • work that is a performance solution (other than if it is work on a “building element”, a building element being a fire safety system, waterproofing, a load bearing component, plumbing or electrical that requires compliance with the Building Code of Australia)
  • work that is carried out by a party who received a HomeBuilder Grant
  • work that is not defined as “residential building work” under the Home Building Act 1989 and regulations thereunder (which is work that is less than $5,000)
  • Work that is for the fit out of part of a building that is not a residential part and the work is not structural and is part of a development consent.

It is possible that a simple renovation to your kitchen, for example, may be exempt from complying with the DBPA, however, the actual answer will be in the precise scope of works you intend to carry out.

Most builders and designer practitioners will have registered under the scheme by the end of February 2022. However, not all will have done so. To avoid doubt, we recommend requesting their qualifications prior to engaging them for your work.

This is general information and should not be considered to be legal advice. You should obtain legal advice specific to your individual situation.

Authors: Gemma Lumley & Allison Benson