Victorian ‘Red Tape Commissioner’, Building Surveyor Functions & Peer Reviews

Access Peer Review StampI just read an interesting article by Justin Cotton from Lovegrove, Smith & Cotton Lawyers on the latest reforms to the Victorian building industry. I’d encourage everyone to read the article.

There will soon be reforms to who can be a building surveyor on a project and issue the building permit(s), as well as other functions of the relevant building surveyor. This essentially allows the functions of a building surveyor to move from the ‘individual’ to the ‘corporation’ so that the business issuing the permit can continue to work on the project without the inefficiencies of having to discharge and transfer responsibilities between staff. It is a practical solution to staff absences, annual leave and building surveyors changing companies.

This will mean a building surveying practice can register as a building surveyor, as well as individual building surveyors.

Justin also comments on the Victorian Building Authority (VBA), which was established last year to replace the old Building Commission. The VBA has been conducting extensive audits of building permits issued by both Council and private building surveyors and disciplinary action, including de-registration, has taken place.

Justin discussed the issue of Alternative Solutions used in the building certification process in Victoria and highlights VBA’s concerns over the use of fire engineering to satisfy the performance requirements of the BCA.  It’s no surprise that the VBA wants all fire engineered Alternative Solutions to be independently peer reviewed and certified as being compliant by another fire engineer or performance qualified registered building surveyor. I’m sure it won’t be long before the spotlight turns to the use of Alternative Solutions for ‘access’ provisions of the BCA.

The VBA have also reinforced the requirement for the relevant building surveyor to be totally independent of the design of the building and that they should not cross the line of giving their client advice to designing the solution (i.e. designing the Alternative Solution).

Please also read my pages on ‘Access Peer Reviews‘,

AS1428 Suite of Standards

The Australian Standard 1428 suite of standards are the main accessibility standards used within the built environment in Australia.

Rialto Towers, 525 Collins Street MelbourneThe standards provide guidance on the requirements for people with disabilities.

There are five parts to the suite, though it is important to note that only Part 1 and Part 4 have been referenced within the BCA, the remaining three parts are considered best practice under the DDA:

  • AS 1428.1-2009
Design for access and mobility – General requirements for access – New building work
  • AS 1428.2-1992
Design for access and mobility – Enhanced and additional requirements – Buildings and facilities
  • AS 1428.3-1992
Design for access and mobility – Requirements for children and adolescents with physical disabilities
  • AS/NZS 1428.4.1:2009
Design for access and mobility – Means to assist the orientation of people with vision impairment – Tactile ground surface indicators
  • AS 1428.5-2010
Design for access and mobility – Communication for people who are deaf or hearing impaired

The objectives of the standards are to provide guidance to industry on the minimum design requirements for new building work to enable access for people with disabilities.

By Lee Wilson, Disability Access / DDA Consultant, Melbourne, Victoria