May 2021 Letter to Clients

by | May 18, 2021 | What we’re thinking about

NSW Design & Building Practitioners (DBP) Act & Regulation

The NSW Government’s new BDP Regulation to accompany the DBP Act has now been finalised. Various “guidelines” are also being drafted to assist in the implementation. The Act & Regulation will come into effect on 1 July 2021.

A significant change was made to the draft regulation – it will now apply to all Class 2 buildings that have not commenced construction before 1 July 2021 (whether a CC has been issued or not).

  • This means that all Class 2 buildings will now be “Regulated Designs” and require registered “Design Practitioners” to provide “Design Compliance Declarations” before Construction can commence.
  • These declarations will be certifying that the design is in accordance with the Development Consent (DA) and the Building Code of Australia (BCA).
  • BCA Consultants, Disabled Access Consultants, Acoustic Engineers, Landscape Architects, Interior Designers and the like will not be registered under the new regulations. We, as Architects, will need to provide Compliance Declarations for their work.
  • Any changes from the DA will require modifications to be approved by council under S4.55. (including changes to finishes and changes required in order to comply with BCA)
  • There is also now a requirement that CC cannot be issued until all of the required documents have been provided. (Early works cannot commence until the whole building has been fully documented and documents declared ready for construction).
  • The responsibility for obtaining and lodging all of these documents appears to rest with the builder, but can be delegated to a Principal Design Practitioner.

The NSW Planning Portal will be central to the process of obtaining CC, lodging Declared Designs, applications for OC, etc. If you have had any experience with the portal to date, you will realise that it is very time consuming and often doesn’t do what it is supposed to do.


  • We will now require a BCA consultant to provide a detailed “Compliance Capability” report at Design & DA stage.
  • We will now only work with non-regulated consultants that we have relationship with.
  • We strongly recommend engaging a QS at concept design stage. Value management (cost cutting) after DA or CC approval will now require S4.55 application.
  • You will be required to engage Registered Design Practitioners (in addition to any others required by the DA or specific site conditions) for certain parts of the design. A detailed list is provided below.
  • You will be required to engage ourselves and the other consultants to provide a minimum level of documentation prescribed by the guidelines. A link to the current guideline is provided below.

We are currently reviewing our fee proposals to cater for this increased scope of work, and uncertainty around complexity of declarations & portal lodgements. We anticipate that our fixed fee for documentation will increase by 50% and that a significant amount of hourly rate work will be required to wrangle the portal and satisfy the PCA. Once the changes have settled in, we should be able to review fees and convert more hourly scope into fixed fees


  • If you have a Construction Certificate, start building before 1 July and don’t make any changes.
  • If you can get a Construction Certificate and start building before 1 July, do so.
  • If neither of the above, then fasten your seatbelt and join us on the journey to a brave new world.

Kind Regards

Peter Couvaras
Soon to be Registered Design Practitioner – Architectural

Useful links

The Design and Building Practitioner (DBP) Act:

The Residential Apartment Building (Compliance and Enforcement ) (RAB) Act:

- Peter Couvaras
Peter started the Couvaras Architects from the dining table in 2005, and has built a reputation for delivering buildings that not only function well, but deliver an element of delight. He is responsible for client engagement and managing the team.
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