Safety

There are a range of safety factors you should consider when planning to build or renovate.

Asbestos

Between 1940 and 1990, asbestos was a popular construction material in Australia. Many older homes still contain asbestos in locations such as: 

  • roofing  
  • ceilings and internal walls 
  • eaves  
  • fencing 
  • flue and water pipes 
  • fireplaces 
  • behind tiles 
  • flooring underlay

If you’re renovating, repairing or redecorating an older property, it’s important to understand the potential hazards associated with asbestos and what you need to do to avoid them:

Swimming pools and spas

Drowning is a significant preventable cause of death in children. If you own or are building a swimming pool or spa, you must comply with the relevant laws, including safety measures relating to fencing, signage, and registration on the NSW Swimming Pool Register.

The Swimming Pools Act 1992 (NSW) applies to swimming pools and spa pools that are located, or being built, on sites with a residential building, movable dwelling or tourist and visitor accommodation. The legislation applies to any excavation, structure or vessel, including swimming pools and spa pools that are:

  • capable of being filled with water to a depth greater than 30cm, and
  • used, designed, manufactured or adapted for swimming, wading, paddling or any other human aquatic activity.

NSW Fair Trading provides detailed information about the safety requirements for pools and spas

Fire safety

By law, all building owners and property managers must maintain essential fire safety measures in their buildings. 

Building or renovating

When you submit a development application to construct a new building or rebuild, alter, enlarge or extend an existing building, Council may place conditions on the development consent that require you to provide fire safety details to the certifier before a Construction Certificate is issued.

If your development application is for a change of use, you may need to submit these details at the development application stage.

The fire safety details must be prepared by a suitably qualified person and include sufficient information for the certifier to prepare and issue a Fire Safety Schedule. Fire safety details must:

  • specify current and proposed fire safety measures
  • nominate standard of performance
  • identify each fire safety measure that is a critical fire safety measure
  • identify the intervals at which supplementary fire safety statements must be given to Council in respect of each measure

Fire safety certificate

A fire safety certificate is a document issued by, or on behalf of, the building owner(s) on the completion of new building work. For any development that requires a Fire Safety Schedule, Council requires submission of a fire safety certificate before an Occupation Certificate can be issued.

The fire safety certificate confirms that each fire safety measure that applies to a building, as listed in the Fire Safety Schedule, has been installed and checked by a properly qualified person. 

Fire safety certificates must be prepared and issued using the NSW Government’s standard form template, available from https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/Policy-and-Legislation/Buildings/Fire-safety-in-buildings/Fire-safety-certification

Fire safety statement

After the building is occupied, you must submit regular fire safety statements to Council, usually annually.

Fire safety statements must be prepared and issued using the NSW Government’s standard form template, available from https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/Policy-and-Legislation/Buildings/Fire-safety-in-buildings/Fire-safety-certification

If you fail to submit the necessary documentation by the due date, a penalty notice will be issued without further warning, and weekly compounding penalty notices for continued failure will also apply: 

  • $1000 for failure to provide the statement within one week after the due date
  • $2000 for failure to provide the statement within two weeks after the due date
  • $3000 for failure to provide the statement within three weeks after the due date
  • $4000 for failure to provide the statement within four weeks after the due date

There is also a penalty of $580 for failure to display the statement and schedule at the premises at any time.

More information

NSW Health provides a range of information on building hazards and safe renovation practice.