Design Matters representatives attended the Victorian Building Authority Building Surveyor Conference.

The Victorian Building Authority held its 2nd Building Surveyor Conference on Tuesday 25 February 2020. 667 building surveyor and other industry colleagues convened to receive updates from the regulator and have time to network with industry.

VBA CEO Sue Eddy provided an overview of the activities of the regulator, including:

  • 695 registered building surveyors
    • Only half are active (that is, producing more than 20 permits per annum)
    • 95% male; 5% female
    • Average age is 50
    • New entrant age is 39
  • For building surveyors
    • Renewals – avg 18 days (down from 32 the year prior)
    • Applications – avg 96 days (down from 145 the year prior)
    • The VBA are continuing to look for improvement in these processes to reduce timeframes.

Of direct relevance to our registered building designers, interior designers and service designers, there will be an audit of the 4,000 registered practitioners who have professional indemnity insurance policies.  The audit will consist of reviewing actual policies rather than just the certificate of currency.  Design Matters has spoken to VBA personnel and Webber Insurance Services about how this process could be streamlined.  Members will be updated once more information is to hand.

Professor Jose Torero, Professor of Civil Engineering and Head of the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering at University College London (UCL) spoke about respect, or more the lack of respect for professionals in the built environment.

He discussed professional competency as:

  • The regulatory framework should deliver an acceptable level of safety to the public is a social responsibility of government
  • Delegation: Complex systems of social important are the remit of a profession
  • Responsibility
    • The profession is required to deliver tools (i.e. DTS solutions, Codes, Standards ,models, etc)
    • The profession is required to deliver properly accredited professionals
    • Government is required to listen to the profession.

State Building Surveyor Andrew Callini outlined the new role, which is to build confidence in the industry; provide technical expertise; increase stakeholder engagement; support regulatory change; and improve and facilitate compliance outcomes.

He’s take away message to the conference was:

  • Need for a level playing field for all practitioners
  • Importance of stakeholder and industry engagement
  • Documentation quality
  • Supporting Municipal Building Surveyors
  • Education, CPD and pathways – including introduction of compulsory CPD

A panel had an open discussion about the draft Building Surveyor Code of Conduct which is now up for public consultation.  If the code, does as some propose, it could assist with clearly defining the role of the statutory building surveyor.  With such a code eventually being introduced for registered building designers, interior designers and service designers, we could also see our roles and responsibilities clearly defined.

From the proactive audits, the VBA were able to report on the non-compliance in relation to:

  • Fire resistance and stability (high)
  • Timber framing (high)
  • Fire separation (high)
  • Temporary pool barriers (high)
  • Stormwater drainage (medium)

The VBA have also commenced a 3 yearly audit of building surveyors which focusses on documentation audits of building and occupancy permits against Act, Regulations and NCC, it includes a review of the documentation submitted to council. Preliminary findings to date:

  • Lack of evidence of suitability
  • Significant DTS non-compliances
  • Poorly justified performance solutions
  • Lack of documenting decision making

We will seek detailed information from the VBA in regard to providing guidance to members on how their design and documentation can be improved to ensure that it is not adding to the non-compliance from the proactive and RBS audits.

The day also included:

  • Cladding Audit Findings
  • Building Regulatory Reform Panel
  • Breakout sessions covering a number of topics.

We thank the Victorian Building Authority for hosting such an informative event and invaluable opportunity for industry to work collaboratively.