AUST – Hendry building surveyors provide a look at the responsibility for overseeing and coordinating whole of building commission from a Building Surveyor‘s perspective under the building regulations. These are important issues from the point of view of the Building Surveyor as complex projects are always time consuming and can be difficult  to sign off when design changes have occurred during construction or inadequate documentation is provided at the end of a project to substantiate the building approval.

A primary concern Building Surveyors are confronted with is the growing gap between the role, functions and responsibilities of the Building Surveyor under the building regulations when compared to those of the Designer, Consultant, Contractor, Owner and Builder or Project Manager and the like.

Building Surveyors are often called upon to allow departures from codes and building regulations after the event and supervision during a project is diminishing which means designers are not supervising, or are not allowed to monitor the installation of systems to their designs as they should be.

The following briefly outlines the direction from which a Building Surveyor operates when inspecting and signing off a project under the building regulations.

Role and Responsibilities: Building Regulations

The role and responsibilities of a Building Surveyor are set out in an Act of Parliament and subsequent regulations in each state and territory. Some states such as South Australia and New South Wales have a combined Development Act and Regulations whilst in Victoria there is a separate Act and Building Regulations applying to planning and building.

It should therefore be immediately obvious that a Building Surveyor is coming from a legal perspective as their functions are carried out pursuant to some form of law. This imposes a community interest and duty of care obligation on the Building Surveyor and makes them responsible to ensure buildings re safe, compliant, are built to the applicable Standards as shown in the building permit/approval or construction certificate issued and are suitable to occupy.

The legal obligations empowered by the legislation in turn sets out a hierarchy of control on a development through the legislation. The requirements of the legislation can sometimes be at odd with industry best practice or the use of newly issued codes or overseas codes e.g. NFPA Standards, Building Code of Australia (BCA), Australian Standards (AS), Approvals and Building Regulations.

Building Control Legislation in Australia is structured as follows:

  1.  Acts
  2. Regulations
  3. Building Code of Australia
  4. Australian Standards (AS)

Immediately, you see that whilst industry may simply rely on Codes and Standards, the effect of legislation is to, in fact, modify or amend these standards. This is the case where for example the BCA affects changes on AS 2118.1 for sprinkler systems and AS 1670.1 for occupant warning and provision of detectors in some buildings, e.g. Class 9a buildings.

Industry, however, says that they should also be designing to the latest Australian Standard or NFPA Standard, whereas the BCA states which Standard one should use in the design. In this regard one must note that the BCA may well be calling up an earlier version of a particular standard.

This result is a departure from the BCA which needs to be properly considered and addressed and can lead to misunderstandings if the Building Surveyor is unaware of what the design is based on.