VIC – HENDRY building surveyors provide in simple language, an explanation of Victoria’s building legislative system. The Building Act 1993 provides powers for the regulation of building and building standards. It is supported by the Building Regulations 2006. The Building Act 1993 and Building Regulations 2006 are closely interwoven. The regulations call up the use of the Building Code of Australia (BCA), thus giving the BCA its legal status. Australian Standards (and AS/ NZS) are nominated in the BCA, or in the Building Regulations 2006.
Property managers should be aware of the areas of the Building Act 1993, Building Regulations 2006 and BCA that affect the management of a building.
The Building Regulations are principally a set of administrative provisions that call up the technical requirements of the BCA by reference.
Building Code of Australia
The BCA cannot be read in isolation as it is the Building Regulations 2006 which amongst other things stipulate in Schedule 8 the type and size of buildings which are exempt from compliance with the BCA.
The Building Regulations 2006 also nominate in Regulation 308 the reporting authorities responsible for consenting to applications for building permits relating to the individual matters required under the BCA.
Other matters provided for in the Building Regulations 2006 that would affect the application of the technical requirements of the BCA include the siting controls in Part 4 and alterations to existing buildings (Regulation 608 + 609).
The BCA is published in two volumes. Volume One deals with all matters relating to Class 2 to 9 buildings and Volume Two deals with all matters relating to Class 1 and 10 buildings.
BCA Performance Hierarchy
The BCA is structured in a hierarchy fashion. Objectives set out community expectations, followed by functional statements that indicate how buildings can meet the Objectives. The performance requirements establish how various building elements are expected to perform to achieve the Objectives and Functional Statements.
Building Solutions set out the means of achieving the Performance Requirements. Building solutions can be found in the BCA in the form of deemed to satisfy provisions which describe tried and proven methods of meeting a Performance Requirement. The deemed to satisfy provisions form the bulk of the BCA.
If, however, it is intended to vary from the deemed to satisfy provisions this can be done by determining an alternative solution.
In order to prove whether an alternative solution meets a Performance Requirement there are four types of assessment methods i.e. by use of Clause A2.2 of BCA Volume One and Clause 1.2.2 of BCA Volume Two, by choosing a verification method (calculations, tests or any other method), by opinion from a technical expert such as a building surveying professional, or by comparison with the relevant deemed to satisfy provision.
Clauses A0.6 and 1.106. of BCA Volumes One and Two respectively clearly indicate that the Objectives in the BCA do not form part of the Building Regulations 2006 but may be used as an aid to interpretation.
The Objectives should only be used by practitioners and building surveyors for guidance in the assessment of the performance requirements where alternative to deemed to satisfy provisions are being assessed, and by the Building Appeals Board (under the Building Act 1993) when hearing appeals and processing applications for building modification.
Where a practitioner wishes to use an alternative solution to the BCA Volume One deemed to satisfy provisions (eg. Clause F1.5) the building surveyor may assess the proposal against the relevant BCA performance requirement (eg. Clause FP1.4) having regard to the relevant Objective and Functional Statement. If the practitioner is dissatisfied with the decision consideration can be given to lodging an appeal to the Building Appeals Board under the Building Act 1993.
In the above instance the Building Appeals Board dealing with the matter may consider the appropriate BCA Objective and Functional Statement to assist in making it is decision.