Are you ready for the DBP Act building reforms?


What the new Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 (NSW) means for the construction industry and Fire Engineering – Question & Answer with Omnii.

What is the DBP Act and why was it introduced?

It is legislation enacted to essentially restore consumer confidence, and bring trustworthiness and a renewed customer focus into the NSW residential building industry.

It will operate under the pillars of Safety, Accountability and Compliance, driven by the fact that many of the defects in class 2 buildings (residential apartment buildings) in NSW were found to have been caused by poor quality and coordination of designs.

What are some of the practical aspects of the scheme?

There are 4 key areas of the DBP Act:

  • Specific building work on class 2 buildings now need a design to be prepared by a registered and competent Design Practitioner before that building work can proceed.
  • Design and building work must be signed off by registered and competent Design and Building Practitioners.
  • Designs for building elements, performance solutions and compliance declarations must be lodged on the NSW Planning Portal.
  • You must be registered or supervised by someone who is registered if you are providing professional engineering work on a class 2 building (or buildings with class 2 parts) in one of the prescribed areas of engineering. Fire safety engineering is one of these prescribed areas.

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.

What are the implications for the industry?

The new compliance declaration requirements for design and building work will hold practitioners accountable for making sure that designs are properly prepared, integrated and considered before construction on a building can begin.

Designs will have to be submitted under the declared designs process driven by “Big Data” philosophy. Artificial Intelligence will risk-assess these designs, and through the process it will ultimately result in buildings that are safe, compliant and of the highest quality.

How does it affect Fire Engineering?

The Fire Engineer’s role has always been a collaborative one, helping the entire team produce cohesive fire safety designs. 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.

This is very similar to ideas being discussed in the UK post Grenfell, where there is the concept of a ‘golden thread’ whereby the original intent of the fire safety design is clearly documented and consistently applied from project inception through to it’s use and operation. 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.

How does this affect Omnii?

At Omnii we welcome the changes in NSW. We are 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.

Recently, Omnii held our own organisation up to the same scrutiny which has resulted in us undertaking a brand revitalisation journey. After the dust settled, we distilled our character, our beliefs and values, and our identity. You will notice we have 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. If anyone would like further information, we’d be happy to step them through any implications the DPB Act may have for them. Our best contact is via