In the media

Testing for asbestos in mulch relies almost solely on the humble human eyeSince January 2024, authorities have uncovered asbestos in the recycled mulch laid in various public facilities such as schools, parks and supermarkets in New South Wales. Over 40 sites have tested positive for the banned mineral contained in the mainstream gardening materials used. Managing Director of The Mulch Centre, Russell Norton, as spoken about the centre's work on testing and identifying loads of mulch for asbestos and other contaminants, and their plan "to apply a financial penalty" to suppliers with contaminated material. The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is investigating a potential supplier which was common across all contaminated sites found (20 February 2024). Read more here.

Price gap between houses and apartments widens to new record as land values surge in capital citiesCoreLogic data shows the price gap between apartments and standalone houses has widened by 45 per cent since March 2020 and January 2024. CoreLogic's research director, Tim Lawless, states "It's an underlying scarcity pushing up the value of the land". The higher premium of having a house with space is growing across Australia's major cities. Lawless believes "we will see more people opting for a higher density option, given the lower price points", as a more accessible and affordable means to home ownership (20 February 2024). Read more here.

New rules set to improve mobile coverage in new housing developmentsThe changes to the Telecommunications in New Development (TIND) policy are forcing developers to actively consider mobile coverage in planning for new building developments. These changes will require higher engagement between developers, mobile network operators and mobile network infrastructure providers (17 February 2024). Read more here.

New home designs reflect consumers' push for more climate-efficient housing Australian housing and infrastructure is not built for its harsh natural environment, and the growing effects of climate change are worsening the country's extreme weather. Dr Shamila Haddad from the School of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney, said Australia is lagging in the global context of home energy efficiency and building quality. She states is the responsibility of "both government and industry ... to improve the quality of buildings" by creating "an updated version of the National Construction Code" with minimum standards pushing for buildings which respond to Australia's increasingly warming climate (15 February 2024). Read more here.

No guarantees for 21 construction projects left in limbo after St Hilliers' voluntary administrationSt Hilliers owes up to $10 million to subcontractors and suppliers and potentially up to another $20 million in other debt. The appointed administrators have confirmed there are no guarantees their multimillion-dollar projects will resume. They are currently seeking an extension of up to three months to the convening period (15 February 2024). Read more here.

NSW government floats new tax on holiday homes, short-term rentals to address housing crisisA discussion paper found that 15,000 dwellings are left vacant throughout the year. Up to 35,000 homes across NSW are used as "non-hosted" short-term rental accommodation throughout the year, according to the discussion paper. A proposed new tax on short-stay rental properties could be introduced in New South Wales to address Australia's housing crisis. However, NSW Tourism Industry Council executive director Paula Martin discusses NSW's diversity from CBD to rural areas, which all present housing affordability issues for different reasons (15 February 2024). Read more here.

Calls for structural reforms to stimulate housing construction after post-COVID slowdownSince Covid-19 in 2021, the number of new houses being built across Australia has dropped significantly, due to pressure such as rising interest rates, cost of living, and material costs. The building industry is pushing for increased government support for first homebuyers (14 February 2024). Read more here.


Research on women in the construction industryThe Building Commission NSW conducted a large piece of research to investigate the culture of the construction industry and the barriers women face in entering, working, and staying in the industry. Barriers include difficulty balancing work and other responsibilities, lack of promotion or career opportunities, and gender-based differential treatment (31 January 2024). Read the report here.

ABS – Building Approvals, AustraliaProvides the number of dwelling units and value of buildings approved (December 2024) 1 February 2024. Read the report here.


Graham v Commissioner for Fair Trading [2024] NSWCATOD 17ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – administrative review – licensing – variation of contractor licence – qualification requirements under s33F of the Home Building Act 1989.Administrative Decisions Review Act 1997; Home Building Act 1989; Licensing and Registration (Uniform Procedures) Act 2002; National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011 (Cth).

Promina Design & Construction Pty Ltd v The Owners Strata Plan No 97449 (No 4) [2023] NSWCATAP 338COSTS – Civil and Administrative Tribunal Rules rr 38 and 38A – Amount claimed or in dispute – Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act s 60 – Special circumstancesCivil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013 (NSW); Civil and Administrative Tribunal Rules 2014 (NSW); Home Building Act 1989 (NSW)

Redmyre Group Pty Ltd v Stockman (No 2) [2023] NSWCATAP 342COSTS – Party/Party – appeals – amount in dispute exceeds $30,000 – general rule that costs follow the event – costs awarded against unsuccessful appellantCivil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013 (NSW); Civil and Administrative Tribunal Rules 2014 (NSW); Home Building Act 1989 (NSW); Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 (NSW)

Rees v Safework NSW [2023] NSWCATAD 325ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – administrative review of decision to suspend accreditation of an assessor – high risk work licence – basic scaffolding – non compliance with conditionsAdministrative Disputes Review Act 1997; Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013; Work Health and Safety Act 2011; Work Health and Safety Regulations 2017

Rehman v F & F Smart Homes Pty Ltd [2024] NSWCATAP 9COSTS – appeal – errors of law in exercise of the Tribunal's discretion under r 38 – setting aside of no order as to costs and substituting a costs' order.Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013 (NSW); Civil and Administrative Tribunal Rules 2014 (NSW); Home Building Act 1989 (NSW); Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 (NSW)

Selkirk v The Owners - Strata Plan No 2661 [2024] NSWCATAP 17REAL PROPERTY – STRATA MANAGEMENT – strict duty of repair – onus of proof on scope and consequences of breach – causation and mitigation – measure and quantification of loss – Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (NSW) ss 106, 122, 124, 232.Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013 (NSW); Home Building Act 1989 (NSW); Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW); Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (NSW).

Salis v Commissioner for Fair Trading [2023] NSWCATOD 188HOME BUILDING ACT – whether evidence establishes two years relevant experience the majority of which is in the last 10 years- Whether evidence establishes a wide range of building construction work experience – whether experience relevant industry experience – individual contractor licence – general building work – whether evidence that work performed can be verified by witnesses who are not supervisors – supervision level of experience required for licence – comfortable satisfaction that licence holder can perform the workAdministrative Decisions Review Act 1997; Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013; Home Building Act 1989; Licensing and Registration (Uniform Procedures) Act 2002

The Owners Strata Plan No 97315 v Icon Co (NSW) Pty Ltd (No 2) [2024] NSWSC 19COSTS – costs of reference – where both parties failed to establish their preferred caseHome Building Act 1989 (NSW)

Wilkinson v Bostock [2023] NSWCATCD 150BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION – Home building – residential building work – oral contract – terms of agreement – whether breach establishedAustralian Consumer Law 2010 (NSW); Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013 (NSW); Fair Trading Act 1989 (NSW); Home Building Act 1989 (NSW); Home Building Regulation 2014 (NSW)


Regulations and miscellaneous instrumentsBuilding Legislation Amendment Regulation (No 2) 2024 (2024 No 5) – LW 19 January 2024

Bills introduced by Government Environmental Legislation Amendment (Hazardous Chemicals) Bill 2024 - Introduced LC: 08/02/2024 Residential Tenancies Amendment (Prohibiting No Grounds Evictions) Bill 2024 - Introduced LA: 08/02/2024

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