DABP Act – Are you ready?

18 May 2021

DABP Act - Are you ready?

The Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 (DABP) and the Design and Building Practitioners Regulations 2021 begins on 1 July 2021 and requires design compliance declarations for regulated design from design practitioners and building compliance declarations by the building practitioner. This affects any new Construction Certificate for Class 2 Residential Apartment Buildings and potentially the Occupation Certificate for the building and impacts on the ability of the principal certifier to issue the certificates. 

Is the industry ready for the Legislative changes? There are a few items that need to be considered when addressing the application of the new Legislation. 

1. Does the DABP Act apply to buildings under construction?

Where a Construction Certificate (CC) has been issued and some of the regulated building work has commenced before 1 July 2021 but not all work has been completed, the provisions of the Regulations are not applicable to regulated designs, registration of practitioners and the requirement for a building compliance declaration. 

Where a regulated design is prepared before the 1 July 2021 and work is commenced before 1 July 2022, by a non-accredited person, this design does not need a Design Compliance Declaration (DCD). However, if the design is amended at all, the regulations apply and a DCD is required. This is a similar process for modified CC’s or staged CC’s with new DCD’s. 

From a practical view point most designs are amended or modified during the construction process and therefore a DCD from a Design Practitioner (DP) is likely to be required. As such, it is important for all managers of projects under construction to ensure their design team applies for registration, and get registered, so that any variations or amendments to the regulated designs can be certified with a DCD. 

2. What does design mean?

Design includes a plan and specification of the building work. It will be no longer acceptable to produce design statements that say ‘we will design in accordance with….’ The DABP Act and Regulations in various Sections and Clauses are requiring plans, specification, reports and detailed descriptions of the building work. 

General ‘motherhood’ statements or basic architectural or service specifications without detailed plans, reports, or calculations, will not satisfy the definition of design. As a result of this, there is a requirement that the plans and specifications for services and structure will need to be far more advanced prior to lodging a CC.

3. What items require a DCD?

The elements that need a DCD are extensive but are not required for all sections and clauses of the BCA. For example, a DCD is required for egress, but not for access for people with a disability. 

The following is a list of the elements that require a DCD but is not exhaustive: 

  • Building elements which include: 
    • Fire safety systems; 
    • Waterproofing; 
    • Load bearing components; 
    • Mechanical electrical and plumbing services; 
  • Performance solutions; 
  • Other prescribed aspects (penetrations to fire rated elements is prescribed); 

Fire Safety Systems has the same meaning as the BCA and covers egress systems, and all the essential services from access panels to sprinkler systems. 

4. Is a DCD needed for CC?

Clause 29 of the Regulations states that the registered certifier must not issue a CDC or CC without all the DCD’s relevant to the building works proposed. Therefore, a lot more detailed design is required prior to seeking a CC and commencing the building works. 

5. Can Staged CC's be used?

It is common practice to use staged CC’s and these maybe for excavation and basement construction to ground floor, the remainder of the structure (columns and floors) and the fit out of the building. With the need to provide DCD’s for the relevant building works for the CC, it is anticipated that there will be an increased interest in the use of staged CC’s however with this approach there are some key warnings. 

When the subsequent stage CC’s are lodged, they must comply with the BCA in force at the time of lodgement and this can lead to quite serious implications. 

In 2019, the BCA changed to require sprinklers in class 2 buildings 4 storeys and above, a significant change from over 25m in effective height (approx. 9 storeys). As a result of staged CC’s and this BCA change we are aware of many projects where sprinklers had to be installed in buildings because of staged CC’s being lodged after the changes. The provision of sprinklers after the building of the structure can impact on provision for penetrations and reticulation pipework, location of pumps and equipment, location of boosters, and potentially the provision of water storage tanks. 

A staged CC for structure is not as simple as having structural plans and specifications. There are many other design aspects that must be resolved which impact on the structural design including: 

  • Layout and location of exits; 
  • Sizes for mechanical exhaust penetrations; 
  • Other penetrations; 
  • Façade design and loadings; 
  • Sizes of plantrooms; 
  • Water storage tanks and loads; 

Therefore a CC for structure is likely to require more than just a DCD for structure. There are likely to be DCD’s for part egress, part mechanical and part penetrations as a minimum. 

6. Design of Penetrations to Fire Rated Elements

This item is specifically listed in Clause 6 of the Regulations and requires detailed information on how a penetration in a fire rated element will be treated. This is not a simple statement that ‘all works will comply with Clause C3.15 of the BCA’ for example. A more detailed design of the system is required which will need to address the substrate, service penetrating the element, and the relative test report for that penetration. 

Key takeaways:

  • The Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 (DABP) and the Design and Building Practitioners Regulations 2021 begins on 1 July 2021;
  • A DCD from a Design Practitioner (DP) is likely to be required for buildings under construction;
  • Plans, specification, reports and detailed descriptions of the building work will be required for design statements;
  • The elements that need a DCD are extensive but are not required for all sections and clauses of the BCA;
  • More detailed design is required prior to seeking a CC and commencing the building works;
  • The use of Staged CC’s comes with a warning;
  • A more detailed design is required for how a penetration in a fire rated element will be treated;

How can BCA Logic help?

BCA Logic have been providing fully designed solutions for the past 5 years. We anticipate an increase in the demand for BCA, Penetration, Access, Inspection services and our new waterproofing service. Should you or your organisation need assistance please do not hesitate to contact Allan Harriman.

Make sure you follow us on LinkedIn as we will be producing further articles which cover items such as who may issue the DCD and the potential gaps in the current recognised qualifications.