Design Compliance Declarations

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By Scott Laycock, Partner and Brittany Flower, Lawyer

1. Overview

  • A design compliance declaration (DCD) confirms that a registered design practitioner has prepared a regulated design for a class 2 building which complies with the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and other relevant standards. The declaration also confirms that the design practitioner (or the supervising designer) is registered to develop the designs.
  • A DCD is required for all regulated designs of building work that involve a building element or performance solution (defined below). This includes variations made to designs following the commencement of building work.
  • When a design contains enough detail that it can be relied upon to complete the building work, a registered design practitioner must provide a completed DCD to a registered building practitioner. The building practitioner (or nominee) must then lodge the DCD via the NSW Planning Portal before construction can commence. A nominee can be either a registered design practitioner or principal design practitioner.

2. What is a Design Compliance Declaration?

  • A DCD indicates that a regulated design complies with the requirements of the BCA and identifies any other standards, codes or requirements that have been complied with when preparing the design (Section 8(1) Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 (NSW) (DBP Act). The DCD further directs to a building practitioner that the design practitioner has the necessary qualifications, competence and experience to prepare the design.
  • A regulated design is any design, plan, specification, or report detailing a design that is prepared in relation to building work containing a building element, or performance solution. Examples of relevant regulated designs include fire safety systems, load-bearing components, waterproofing, building enclosures, and mechanical, plumbing and electrical services.

 3. When is a DCD required?

  • A design practitioner must provide a DCD for any regulated design to be used in building work on a new or existing class 2 building or building with a class 2 element (Section 9(1) DBP Act).
  • The regulated design must be of sufficient detail so that the relevant building work is indicated in the design and be in a form that contains sufficient detail to reliably support the building work it pertains too. This includes details of the proposed dimensions of the completed building, required materials and the location of the building elements and systems.
  • A DCD must be provided for all building elements and performance solutions before building work can begin.
  • Certain building work is exempted from requiring regulated designs or declarations under clause 13 of the Design and Building Practitioners Regulation 2021 (DBP Regulation). Examples of exempt work include work that is carried out as an exempt development, work conducted under a council order, or a development control order, work (other than specialist work) for which reasonable market cost does not exceed $5,000, and some mechanical, plumbing and electrical services work and fire safety systems work.

4. Who is required to provide a DCD?

  • A DCD must be provided by a registered design practitioner or registered principal design practitioner who is registered under the Design and Building Practitioner Scheme. The person making the declaration must have prepared the design or coordinated and oversaw the preparation of the design.
  • Registered design practitioners must ensure that the designs they are declaring are within their scope of registration.
  • The scope of registration relates to a practitioner’s capacity to produce designs for certain building sizes (i.e. low-rise or medium-rise buildings) as well as certain types of designs (i.e. ‘Design Practitioner – Façade’ can make design compliance declarations for multiple façade designs but not for mechanical engineering unless also registered as a ‘Design Practitioner – Mechanical Engineering’).
  • Where a principal design practitioner has been appointed to a project (usually for large building projects), they are required to coordinate and collect designs and declarations from the other practitioners involved in the building’s design work.
  • A registered principal design practitioner must provide a principal compliance declaration for all construction-issued regulated designs before the building practitioner lodges a building compliance declaration (or can lodge the building compliance declaration on the builder’s behalf).
  • Design practitioners can engage other specialist design practitioners to prepare regulated designs however must indicate that its design incorporates specialist advice.

5. DCD Template Forms

  • Declaration templates can be found on the Fair Trading Website, for single regulated design or multiple regulated designs.
  • Once the declaration has been filled out, the new or updated design(s) must be lodged in the NSW Planning Portal.
  • Pursuant to Section 11 of the DBP Regulation, a design compliance declaration must be made in one of the following forms:
    • a form approved by the Secretary and published on a website of the Department; or
    • a form specified on the NSW Planning Portal.
  • There are specific DCD forms for Vertical Transportation designs (only):
  • A DCD is distinguished from a principal compliance declaration and is required where a principal design practitioner has been appointed to a project. This declaration states that all design compliance declarations have been provided in accordance with the Act for each regulated design prepared for the building work and provided by a registered design practitioner whose registration authorises it to prepare such designs.

6. Building Practitioner requirements following production of a DCD

  • The building practitioner is responsible for ensuring regulated designs and design compliance declarations are lodged in the NSW Planning Portal before building work commences.
  • A building practitioner is then required to lodge, prior to commencement, all construction-issued regulated designs, a copy of each design compliance declaration and a principal compliance declaration (only where a principal has been appointed to the project) on the NSW Planning Portal.
  • Building practitioners can nominate a registered design practitioner or principal design practitioner as an ‘appointed practitioner’ to lodge designs and DCDs on their behalf.
  • Before the issuance of an Occupation Certification, a registered building practitioner must lodge a building compliance declaration on the NSW Planning Portal. The documents required to be lodged are:
    • an online building compliance declaration;
    • a contractor document;
    • copy of each variation statement;
    • copy of any further regulated designs containing additional details not in the construction-issued regulated design; and
    • principal compliance declaration (if applicable).

7. Variations to a DCD

  • If there are any variations to the building work, the registered design practitioner must prepare a revised regulated design and provide the new DCD to the building practitioner before the variation work commences. The new DCD must be lodged in the NSW Planning Portal within one day of the building work commencing. This can be lodged by the building practitioner or an appropriate practitioner.
  • Varying an original design does not have to be varied by the original design practitioner. The subsequent practitioner can vary an original design if it has the appropriate competency to develop the design (registered and of the relevant class).
  • Design practitioners do not need to sign off on variations not related to a building element or performance solution. However, the building practitioner must still record these in a variation statement (different to the variation of regulated design related to a building element or performance solution which is to be issued in the same form as the DCD). This variation statement must be provided after building work commences.

8. Standard Title Block requirements

  • A standard title block is a mandatory requirement for regulated designs. A title block contains important information about the design and the building to be built, as well as the practitioner who has made the declaration.
  • All regulated designs must have a title block included on the design compliance declaration in the top left-hand corner.
  • The time block template is available on the Fair Trading Website.

9. What occurs following lodgement of a DCD?

  • Design practitioners will not be notified when the DCD has been lodged.
  • Building work can begin once the building practitioner lodges all regulated designs and documents required in the building practitioner’s declaration (outlined above).
  • If issues are found in the declaration, it will be referred to the NSW Building Commissioner and NSW Fair Trading for investigation and may need to be rectified before construction can continue.

Useful Sources

https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/ data/assets/pdf_file/0010/1120501/Design- practitioners-handbook-final.pdf

https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/ data/assets/pdf_file/0007/1120498/regulated-design- guidance-material-final.pdf.pdf

https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/trades-and-businesses/construction-and-trade- essentials/working-on-class-2-buildings/forms#compliancedeclaration

For further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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