The role of building surveyors has evolved into many professional disciplines within the building industry to include:
- assessing, approving, and inspecting building works;
- assessing compliance with legislative requirements, approval of building and use changes, determining upgrades for existing buildings, building audits, compliance, and enforcement matters beyond the building approval process;
- facilitating the regulatory approval process;
- acting as a consultant on design, fire safety, energy efficiency and access solutions; and
- providing education and expert witness services in support of the legal process.
The profession will continue to evolve and grow as the skills and abilities are incorporated into new and developing construction and building management roles within the community.
Building surveyors often have a statutory responsibility for ensuring buildings are safe to occupy, energy efficient, accessible and are suitable for occupation. As part of this responsibility, they review, analyse and assess plans for compliance to current standards, conduct inspections, issue relevant legislative permits and approvals and undertake enforcement.
They are required to be competent in local government, State and Territory legislation, guidelines, codes, policies and ministerial directions, as well as the National Construction Code and associated Australian Standards. They also need to keep abreast of technological and innovative changes in the building industry.
Building surveyors are engaged in public and private roles ranging from local government to sole practice or large multi-national firms.
The responsibilities of building surveying professionals extend well beyond office based statutory functions. Building surveying is also a ‘hands-on’ role where onsite inspections are carried out at specified intervals during the building process to ensure existing and new buildings are structurally sound, fit for purpose and able to be occupied. Therefore, the competency of the individual building surveyor is central to safeguarding all sections of the community.
The role of the building surveyor is largely misunderstood by the public, not only because of the inconsistencies in the terminology government uses for licensed / registered / accredited building surveyors who are often referred to as certifiers but also because of the vastly differing requirements of the legislation which govern the activities of building surveyors across the eight national jurisdictions.
Building surveying is a recognised qualification and those with a building surveying qualification should be referred to as building surveyors. Building surveyors undertake a number of roles, but the most common is what is currently referred to as ‘certification’.
Building surveyors undertaking legislated certification roles as statutory authorities should be referred to as ‘Statutory Building Surveyors’ not certifiers. This is especially so where the current term of certifiers related to the role of building surveyors, are often confused with certifiers who undertake the role of certifying specific products or equipment such as fire services.
The generic use of the term building surveyor across all functions of the profession will provide greater consistency and understanding of the role that the profession of building surveying plays.
AIBS believes that it is essential to strengthen the profession by ensuring that the:
- roles and responsibilities of building surveyors are clearly defined;
- competencies and skills required of a building surveyor are clearly defined nationally; and
- professional structure supporting building surveying is recognised by governments.
A professional structure will provide for greater consumer protection and provide governments and regulators with increased risk mitigation strategies in the vital role performed by building surveyors.
In principle, AIBS supports three levels of building surveyors :
Level 1 is a professional tertiary qualified (AQF level 7 or above) building surveyor with at least three years of relevant experience at that level and who can undertake the assessment, approval and inspection of all buildings.
Level 2 is a para-professional with an Advanced Diploma qualification (AQF level 6 minimum) and at least 2 years of relevant experience and who can undertake the assessment, approval and inspection of all classes of buildings that are not more than 2000m2 or 3 storeys.
Level 3 is a level that was previously defined by a diploma qualification (AQF level 5), which is no longer available and has been replaced by a recognised skill subset of the Advanced Diploma. Along with the diploma or the skillset qualification and 6 months experience, a building surveyor can be accredited for registration limited to assessment and inspection of class 1 & 10 buildings up to 500m2 and not more than 2 storeys.
AIBS has committed to establishing a number of national policies
that will reflect what the Institute believes are best practice that reflect our vital role in ensuring the built environment is safe.