On 1 July, NSW will reach a key milestone in building industry reform whereby compulsory registration for practitioners involved in design and building work legislation will be enforced. As a follow up to changes announced in 2020, the NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler has ordered developers to fix faults and withhold occupation certificates for multiple construction sites.
But what should building owners be doing ahead of the latest changes in the Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 legislation?
For a fully integrated property company Piety Group the new legislation is a welcome change. According to Operations Manager Muhammed El-Cheikh, quality should always be the primary business driver for any building owner. Regardless of existing legislation, delivering a lifestyle for property owners is the right thing to do.
“Property development should not just be a volume play in attracting customers. Building high-quality, purpose-designed homes for the way people want to live is how the customer will return. They are going to want to say ‘where are you building next’ – we know this for a fact,” he said.
Group Environmental, Health & Safety Manager Ben Armstrong, agrees that efforts to eliminate shoddy builders will shortly give quality builders time to shine.
“We welcome the legislation changes. This is something we have been preparing for some time. Being a one-stop shop from finance to property sales means a different conversation around quality. What that needs to look like during the pre-construction to delivery phase will change. It will actually free us up to have some very frank discussions with our customers about our quality culture,” said Armstrong.
Both El-Cheikh and Armstrong agree consumers need to regain confidence in the construction industry’s quality products and processes moving forward. It’s all about understanding the difference between the shonky builders and those who aren’t abusing their customers’ trust and undercutting construction projects.
Activating quality as a critical business driver has had a significant impact on Piety Group’s overall performance since launch, according to El-Cheikh and Armstrong. Quality is at the forefront of everything the company does. Kaizen, the strategy of continuous improvement adopted by Piety Group, further supports this approach to quality.
“We know that a great team needs to be backed up by great systems, particularly a transparent, centralised solution that can help efficiently meet compliance requirements and scale for growth,” said El-Cheikh.
Described by some as a clarion call for the construction industry to lift benchmarks, the jury is still out on financiers and insurance companies’ impact.
Armstrong believes moving to better designs, compulsory insurance, and mandated use of the NSW planning portal means the old way of ‘design and construct’ is a thing of the past.
“Holding a building licence is one thing, but if this legislation still sees people trying to get around it, then we could see further regulation. Just like structural engineers need to be qualified, qualifications for builders may be tightened further.”
For sure, this new legislation will inevitably impact the single largest purchase in people’s lives—their homes. El-Cheikh believes customers will be more satisfied with the end product they receive thanks to the changes brought by more regulation and oversight.
“We know this because quality has always been our number one business driver and has been since inception. I want to drive past any of our builds and be proud that Piety Group built that. Quality in this instance drives sales.”
Piety Group is adamant there is no excuse for not being able to improve quality and compliance. The company has centralised its construction software to track and resolve defects faster. Building a Quality Dashboard and Reporting system has lifted the benchmark on quality processes, bolstering outcomes and carving out a leadership role in quality culture. The new solution has already saved Piety Group considerable time in identifying and remedying defects, lifting its bottom line while it delivers affordable high quality residential and mixed-use development projects.
Implementing Procore centralised Piety Group’s IP immediately lowered its risk profile.
“We now have a project management solution that identifies defects and tracks their resolution. The transparency and insights this delivers have given us a new level of accountability and responsibility for staff and contractors,” El-Cheikh said.
Piety Group has woven quality into its company culture in the way it builds, giving it new abilities to assess people and organisations that deliver sub-standard outcomes.
“Using an integrated data platform like Procore means we can re-calibrate our quality standards as we lift our benchmarks. Tracking outcomes in black and white means we can partner with contractors who make the cut and discontinue working with contractors that just don’t get it.”