About Building Surveyors
A building surveyor is a professional trained in understanding and interpreting building law. He or she is authorised to assess building plans with a view to ensuring they are compliant with the Building Regulations. In addition to having recognised qualifications, a building surveyor must be registered and must have appropriate insurance.
Building surveyors are responsible for making sure that buildings are safe, accessible and energy efficient and therefore have an impact on the design, planning and functionality of buildings. They interact with other professionals such as engineers, architects and builders to ensure that buildings are designed and constructed to comply with building regulations. They are experts in building legislation, technical codes and construction standards; they detect and diagnose problems with design issues, construction techniques and materials, and undertake the inspection process from foundations through to completion.
Local councils provide of building surveying services and have historically provided this service. Legislation has been introduced to enable competition and allow private building surveyors to issue building permits. This system is known as ‘private certification’ and consumers now have the choice of engaging a private building surveyor or seeking the same service from a municipal building surveyor.
Building surveyors do much more than just issue building permits. They can carry out inspections of established buildings to determine their existing condition and the level of compliance with safety standards. The building inspection is comprehensive and comprises an assessment of the building’s fabric.
Another role that a building surveyor may play is that of consultant. In this role, usually on large construction projects, the building surveyor will provide the design team with regulatory advice on construction issues.
Because of the extent and depth of knowledge a building surveyor typically possesses, they are in constant demand in a variety of roles. Gone are the days when building surveyors spent their entire career in local government. It is now common to see building surveyors employed in a multitude of disciplines such as project management, facility management, access design and compliance, fire and essential services compliance and in specific industries such as aged care.
Building inspectors are often engaged by the building surveyor in charge of a project to undertake some or all of the inspections the law requires. Because building inspectors have particular expertise in the construction aspects of a building, they are well placed to advise the building surveyor on the level of compliance being achieved on-site. However, unlike building surveyors, a registered building inspector is not able to issue building permits.
Building Surveyors are experts in a range of building legislation, technical codes and construction standards.
They are in high demand by other allied professions like Architects, Engineers, Town Planners and Builders for their knowledge and expertise, and are often called upon to sit on design teams in the early stages of projects to provide their expert advice.
Building surveyors have an expert knowledge of the Building Code of Australia and over 90 Australian, New Zealand and International construction Standards called up in legislation. They have a broad knowledge of Town
Planning issues and in some states are permitted to certify subdivisions and issue town planning certificates.
While Building Surveyors are educated to practice across a number of disciplines, many are now specialising in one or more of the following areas:
- disabled access
- fire safety engineering
- energy efficiency and sustainable development
- construction law
- forensic inspection
- dispute resolution
- maintenance of essential services
- private certification
- building materials science
- code development & legislation
- expert witness
- alternative building solutions
One function of a Building Surveyor is to certify plans and structures in accordance with building legislation and to issue a building permit to start construction.
There is not a building in Australia or the western world that is not required to have the expertise of a Building Surveyor to assess and approve a building for construction and occupancy. Whether it be the Sydney Opera House, the Empire State Building in New York or Harrod’s Department Store in London, all these buildings required a Building Surveyor.
Building Surveyors look at a wide range of buildings and structures including shops, shopping centres, high-rise office and residential apartment buildings, train stations, parking complexes, towers, masts and antennas, schools, hospitals, prisons, factories, storage buildings, marinas, laboratories, aged care buildings and of course houses of all shapes, sizes and materials.
Their role is different from that of a Land Surveyor who surveys subdivisions of land, taking into account the slope, geography and topography of land or a Quantity Surveyor who estimates the costs of materials and can provide taxation schedules for buildings.
Building Surveyors are responsible for making sure that buildings are safe, accessible and energy efficient and have an impact on the design, planning and functionality of buildings. They detect and diagnose problems with design issues, construction techniques and materials and they manage the inspection process from foundations through to completion.