iCIRT: Re-building Confidence in Construction

iCIRT: Re-building Confidence in Construction

The Independent Construction Industry Rating Tool (iCIRT) was launched by the NSW Government in late 2020 to tighten building regulations and inspections. This strategy aims to rebuild public confidence in building professionals following numerous construction failures such as with Sydney’s Opal Tower and Mascot Towers. In this article, we explore how the iCIRT is used to rebuild trust in construction projects and improve the credibility of building practitioners.

What is iCIRT?

iCIRT uses a five-star rating system to offer transparency on the track record of builders, developers, sub-contractors, certifiers and consultants. Building professionals are awarded star ratings based on their ‘capability and willingness to deliver reliable and trustworthy built assets’. To be considered trustworthy, construction experts are assessed on the following key areas:

  • Character – trustworthiness determined by proof of credentials or adverse media checks
  • Capability – trading history as well as current licences and insurances
  • Conduct – track record of any current or past litigation, penalties or debts
  • Capacity – ability to achieve project targets whilst maintaining stable cash flow
  • Capital – sufficient capital to sustain operations, funding, debts and borrowing capacity
  • Counterparties – related party transactions to support sustainable sourcing of materials and market exposure.

The data that is gathered for this assessment is procured either directly from the practitioner (with their consent) or is accessed through insurers, financiers, large suppliers or the government. An iCIRT star-rating is compiled by Equifax Australasia Credit Ratings Pty Ltd (Equifax), a credit rating agency.

How can iCIRT re-build public confidence in construction?

Consumers can search on the iCIRT portal for proven track records of construction industry professionals. You may search by property location, business entity or individual. Not only does the portal provide access to industry-based comparisons and ratings, it also provides detailed reports which may indicate certain risk areas that need further consideration. It should be noted that there is a fixed-fee framework for reports. The pricing is based on the type of report chosen and the amount of detail included in the assessment.

When using iCIRT, consumers can access reputable information about construction professionals, giving them the confidence to make informed decisions when pursuing a construction project.

How can iCIRT be used to improve the credibility of building practitioners?

iCIRT is currently available to developers, builders and certifiers of Class 2 buildings. A Class 2 building is typically an apartment building which contains two or more sole-occupancy units. In line with the Class 2 industry reforms under the Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020, iCIRT aims to provide a database for reputable building professionals to ensure that residential constructions are safe and secure. In due course, the register will expand to include designers, manufacturers and suppliers. If you would like to learn more about the new obligations for Class 2 builders, designers and engineers, please read our blog.

Whilst registering with iCIRT is voluntary, it is worthwhile for building and construction practitioners to use a star-rating to gain a competitive edge. Consumers are more likely to choose professionals with a higher star-rating whose track record is transparent and whose brand is reputable. Registering with iCIRT can improve your credibility as a building professional, build confidence in your business and assist your market differentiation.

How Etheringtons Solicitors can help

A solicitor at Etheringtons Solicitors can provide clarification of the relevant law and its relation to your individual circumstances. If you require assistance with a Class 2 development matter or are needing further advice on strata law, please contact one of our experienced solicitors on (02) 9963 9800 or via our online contact form.

Keeping Pets in Strata Schemes

Keeping Pets in Strata Schemes

Keeping Pets in Strata Schemes – Can You Have Pets in an Apartment? 

Have you ever been forced to choose between keeping your pet and living in a strata building? You are not alone. Australia has one of the highest household rates of pet ownership in the world, and yet more and more Australians are living in apartments and townhouses, where strata schemes may prohibit pets.

In this article, we explore the NSW strata laws in relation to keeping pets in a strata building. But first, a quick recap of strata schemes.

Strata Laws, By-Laws and Owners Corporation

If you live in an apartment or townhouse, then you are probably living in a strata scheme. The strata laws (Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (NSW)) regulate an Owners Corporation’s rights and responsibilities. All the owners in a strata scheme make up the Owners Corporation. Owners Corporations can adopt the model by-laws that are set out in the Act, or they can amend them or write their own.

Can I Keep My Pet in a Strata Scheme?

This depends on the by-laws that apply to your strata scheme.

Previously, the model by-laws excluded pets unless the owner was given permission. The new strata laws amended the model by-law to be more pet-friendly, as it encourages schemes to allow pets rather than ban them altogether.

The new model by-law for pets includes two options for new schemes to choose from:

  1. Option A– An owner or occupier may keep a pet if they give the Owners Corporation written notice.
  2. Option B– An owner or occupier may keep a pet with the written approval of the Owners The Owners Corporation cannot unreasonably refuse the owner or occupier permission to keep their pet.

What if I am a tenant living in a strata scheme?

If you are either a prospective or current living in an already established strata scheme, you will still need permission from your landlord to keep a pet in your apartment or townhouse.

Seek Legal Advice

It is important to be fully aware of your obligations under your strata scheme in relation to retention of pet. If you would like further information regarding strata schemes or general strata law advice, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced solicitors on 9963 9800 or via our contact form here.

The Difference between Torrens & Strata Title Investment Properties

The Difference between Torrens & Strata Title Investment Properties

Purchasing commercial properties can be a valuable investment but there are numerous important decisions which need to be made to determine how profitable that investment will be. One of the most significant is what kind of investment property you may be purchasing – Torrens (freehold) or Strata title? This article will examine both of these properties and some of the considerations you should take into account when deciding which property investment is best for you.

Torrens Title (freehold) investment properties

A Torrens title property grants the purchaser sole ownership and control of the home and the land on which it is built.

This provides the owner with the power to renovate the property as they choose, without the need for approval from a body corporate (or Owners Corporation). This is the more traditional form of property ownership and involves registering your Certificate of Title with the NSW land title system.

Things to consider:

  • Freehold investment properties are often more expensive than Strata titles. This is compounded by the maintenance costs associated with the property for which the owner is liable.
  • Outgoing costs are usually greater than that of Strata title investment properties.
  • Freehold investment properties are potentially the better choice for investors who would like control and have greater financial resources available.

Strata title investment properties

A Strata title property is typically a unit, apartment or townhouse which forms part of a common piece of land, with different owners living in their separate properties within the one complex or block.

Investing in Strata titles only provides the landowner with control over their section of an individual building. Unlike in a freehold investment, the body corporate regulates the use of the land and external structures. This means that all changes or renovations which may impact the building holistically or a common area such as driveways, walkways or gardens, require the body corporate’s approval.

Things to consider:

  • Purchasers should note the Strata complex’s associated by-laws before deciding to invest. These are the rules and regulations regarding the property complex, and it is important they are compatible for your plans for the property or lifestyle if you intend to live in it for any period.
  • Owners of Strata title are required to pay for maintenance of the common areas, through the ongoing quarterly fees and strata levy, as well as for their own future repairs and maintenance.
  • Outgoing costs are usually less than those for freehold properties, and are relevant to the individual lot rather than the whole building.

A solicitor at Etheringtons Solicitors can assist with ascertaining the financial health of the Owners Corporation for the Strata complex by obtaining a report that shows the levies paid by the individual owners and the money available in the funds to maintain the common property.

How Etheringtons Solicitors can help

A solicitor at Etheringtons Solicitors can provide clarification of the relevant law in relation to your individual circumstances. Etheringtons Solicitors can assist with your property purchase. If you need further advice or assistance with property or strata law matters, please contact one of our experienced solicitors on (02) 9963 9800 or via our contact form.