I have been employed in the Building Approval industry since 1992. In social situations, I find it quite amusing how often people look at me strangely after I have answered their question; “what I do you do for a living? “Building Surveyor” I reply and then watch their expressions. Generally speaking, the average Victorian has no idea what a Building Surveyor is. If you reply “Building Inspector” they seem to have a better understanding, but “Building Surveyor”, not a clue, “oh, you’re the guys that stand on the side of the road and look through the telescope thingy” is a regular reply, “No” I say, then go onto try and explain the complex nature of our role. Even more perplexing is our role in a commercial private sector where we compete for work commercially and assume a role of the clients Building Law enforcer, interesting theory, in practice it has worked however.
What Does A Building Surveyor Do?
In Australia, a building surveyor is required to inspect and diagnose problems with design issues, construction techniques and use of materials. Specialised in Building Legislation, building surveyors are experts in building legislation, technical codes and construction standards, namely the Building Code of Australia. Their primary responsibility is to ensure that buildings meet the required standards of safety, accessibility and energy efficiency.
Private Building Surveying Sector
I remember July 1994 quite well. I was employed as a Cadet Building Surveyor for a suburban Council. Before July 1994 we would issue approximately 200 Building Permits each month throughout the municipality. In July 1994 we issued 34! You see, July 1994 was the beginning of the Private Building Surveying sector. It was quite a revelation designed to boost the construction sector during the Jeff Kennett era where Council’s had a real stigma of “taking forever to issue a Building Permit”.
Hard Working Entrepreneurial Building Surveyors
The introduction of the private sector opened the gates for hard working entrepreneurial Building Surveyors to leave Councils and set up private practice. Many did, and most of the veterans that set up in those times are still operating today. I set up Nicholson Wright in January 1996 when I became a registered Building Surveyor and Inspector. In those times, you needed to have at least four years of documented relevant building experience before you were considered to sit before the Building Practitioners Board panel of three very senior members. It was the most difficult task that I had ever completed and registered soon afterwards, I was the youngest qualified Building Surveyor and Inspector in private practice for a long time…what was I thinking! I was just 24 years old.
Over 35,000 projects!
Many have tried to discredit our profession in recent times which is upsetting as most of us work really hard and try to do our work to the best of our ability. You see there is a common misconception out there amongst consumers that have assumed that the Building Surveyor and Inspector are the Building’s supervisor. This is false, as in reality, the Building Surveyor/Inspector is only on site at a small number of mandatory inspection stages (normally 3 or 4) throughout a build that can take anywhere between 6 months to multiple years to complete! It is impossible for the Building Surveyor/Inspector to be across every little detail on site, nor is it our role to do so. Our role is to ensure that the documents endorsed to form part of the Building Permit “substantially” meet the requirements of the Building Regulations, Codes and Australian Standards. I highlight the word substantially as it is the Building Surveyor’s call what is deemed to comply. The Building Surveyor is a person with many years of experience within the building industry, the very fact that he/she have become registered is enough, in my opinion, to rely and trust this professional and any decisions they have made.
I am a very passionate person and have been very passionate about my profession. I believe that the Building Surveyor makes a valuable contribution to the community by fulfilling his role ensuring that our built environment is a safe and efficient one.
As always, if you feel you need any further advice, please don’t hesitate to call 9555 9511 and speak with a member of our friendly team!