Building Stronger Foundations

Submission cover sheet

  • Name of organisation or individual making this submission

    JJ Hauser Engineering Pty Ltd

  • Authorised delegate/contact person

    Joseph Hauser

  • Position


  • Organisation

    JJ Hauser Engineering

Questions on possible options

  1. What kind of plans should be signed off and declared by a statutory declaration?

    All plans but in particular: foundation drawings/calculations; structural details/calculations; earthworks drawings; waterproofing details; roofing details. A risk based approach to critical elements/activities (e.g. piling) should be used to ascertain the level of scrutiny. Third party certification is mandatory to better guarantee outcomes. Self regulation after accreditation supported by audit will enhance outcomes in a resource constrained industry.

  2. Should a statutory declaration accompany all variations to plans or only major variations?

    An independent third party (arms length) review and sign off should be taken on all variations/modifications. How do you define the difference between minor and major variations. More accurately the variation/modification review should receive attention considering its impact on the building i.e. likely risk to desired outcomes

  3. How should plans be provided to, or accessed by, the Building Commissioner?

    Via the use of dedicated communication software such as Aconex, Teambinder, etc whereupon parties can receive selected information. This could work in a similar way to an Airport Controller function, as dictated in law.

  4. In what circumstances would it be difficult to document performance solutions and their compliance with the BCA?

    The problem may not be solely limited to compliance with BCA but with compliance with Australian/NZ standards with accompanying provision of objective proof/evidence that the design intent has been met (such as with the systems assurance process used in rail, oil & gas, aeronautical industries). Self regulation can work but still requires comprehensive auditing and record keeping much the same way as it is carried out in the civil industry.

  5. What would the process for declaring that a building complies with its plans look like?

    Adopting a QA approach based on the likes of documents used by RMS (Q1-6) which provides/defines expectations of and requirements by government authorities. The cost is the employment of an additional 1 - 2 site based personal to manage the paperwork with responsibility lying mainly at the work face. If you recall the civil industry was in a similar position some 30 years ago. Design house inspections must not be cursory during the construction phase services stage of the building delivery. But the full building cycle of proof includes the certification of outputs from design house/architect to ensure the integrity of the building product. Refer the V-diagram.

  6. What kind of role should builders play in declaring final building work?

    Why is it limited to only builders. The volume of work in NSW and other states (Victoria) means there is a resource constraint on senior design house principals having to review outputs. In some cases this requires the engagement of detailing resources based overseas by personnel who are not familiar with Australian standards or alternatively not enough resources to scrutinise outputs received in Australia. With principals who are time poor the level of senior level scrutiny is diluted.

  7. Which builders involved in building work should be responsible for signing off on buildings?

    This depends on the form of commercial engagement of the builder i.e. construct only versus Design and construct, etc. The builder is prejudiced by the commercial drivers to meet a budget. But the idea of "lean construction" could be applied here. That is to say that putting a building together is a bit like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. Certain pieces go together in a predetermined order. So each trade has two stakeholders - the ultimate client and the following trade. A mindset needs to be developed where the following trade does not accept what has been presented until it is satisfactory for him to complete his work in an orderly and workman-like to specified standards. For example if you give some one a vehicle with a torn seat that person will look after the vehicle no better than the standard that has been presented. This is particularly relevant to waterproofing substrate prior to the application of waterproofing materials. But just using Australian standard manufactured materials not necessarily translate into quality constructed outcomes unless the workmanship is of the required standard. Like in the civil industry there is a need to prequalify subcontractors to certain specialised trades.

  8. Are existing licensing regimes appropriate to be accepted as registration for some builders and building designers, such as architects, for the new scheme?

    This is a starting point without throwing the "baby out with the bath water". Over time standards can be lifted, better defined. This is a process that will mature in at least a 5 year period.

  9. What should be the minimum requirements for a registration scheme?

    1) time in industry & track record 2) background of proprietor 3) financial strength 4) quality assurance processes 5) value of projects aggregated to a series of levels that reflect competencies and hence hurdles to progression of accreditation 6) experience n the area of works

  10. What form of insurance should be mandatory for ‘building designers’? Why?

    Professional Indemnity insurance and products liability with a runoff period of at least 7 years but perhaps 10 years. PI insurance wording needs to be standardised as a minimum because the success of a claim can swing on the the level of insurance e.g. LEG 1, 2, 3

  11. What kinds of minimum requirements should be prescribed for the insurance policy (for example, value, length of cover, etc.)?

    See above.

  12. What skills should be mandatory for ‘building designers’?

    1) Years in industry; 2) Type of work and experience; 3) nature of projects matched to the registration level; 4) minimum education standards or experiential standards 5) chartered professional recognition

  13. Which categories of building practitioners should owe a duty of care?

    All. There is no exclusion of duty of care in the civil industry. Why should this work any differently in the building industry.

  14. What should be the scope of the duty of care? Should it apply to all or certain types of work? If so, which work?

    There may be case for specific risk based assessment of requirements in particular elements of the building product e.g. foundations

  15. What types of consumers should be owed a duty of care?

    All consumers should be able to be afforded the same consumer protection as currently exists for purchased products such as, say, a motor vehicle. The average consumer probably knows nothing or at best understands little about the delivery of a building. But there needs to be a distinction between the paint blemish and water leak from a roof or garden bed in terms of the extensiveness of the duty of care coverage. Although I am not a practitioner in the building industry, I have worked in companies that undertake building work and the more mature organisations have a knowledge base, built up over time, of the critical elements that require additional attention in design, detailing and execution. As an example waterproofing of balconies is a case in point. This knowledge could be used as a base to determine the extent of duty of care obligations. However the law likes certainty and trying to slice and dice this may prove inefficient, non-beneficial and costly in the longer run.

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