Building Stronger Foundations

Submission cover sheet

  • Name of organisation or individual making this submission

    Peter Foo

  • Authorised delegate/contact person

    Peter Foo

  • Position

    Architect / Fire Safety Engineer

  • Organisation

Questions on possible options

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

    All plans (i.e. plans, sections, elevations, external reports, details and specifications etc) should be declared by a statutory declaration. Signed by all stakeholders. Contractors on-site should sign off the plans that their discipline is involved with. Therefore, a contractor that is involved with form works, concrete works should sign off on all relevant plans such as architectural conc. setout plans, structural plans etc.

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

    All plans (i.e. plans, sections, elevations, external reports, details and specifications etc), are considered to be legal documents. Therefore, any approved variations, whether minor or major amendments, must be approved and signed off by all stakeholders as part of the principal statutory declaration. It is a live document and will continue to evolve and be subject to changes until the subject development is completed and OC provided.

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

    Electronic copies of all drawings whether it is through a cloud base sharing platform or submitted in a form of a usb through the mail. Document Manager(s) should be appointed to obtain and monitor all documents concerning a project periodically. These documents should be accompanied with a list of amendments made, if any, as well as approval and sign off from all stakeholders.

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

    It is often during the Development Application phase of a project that performance solutions and compliance with the BCA is at its vaguest. Only reason being, during the Development Application phase, it is often the bulk, scale, and social impact of the proposed development, that is the primary concerns. It is only when DA Approval is obtained, that a project is then looked at closer and in greater detail. Therefore, it is prior to the application of a Construction Certificate, that all non-compliances to the BCA are looked at. However, it is also true that non-compliance to the BCA are addressed as a Performance Solution when a building is close to completion or has already been completed, but are unable to obtain Occupation Certificate, that the developer or client engages an engineer to address the non-compliance(s) to the BCA through Performance Solution(s). It results to always being an after thought at this stage and developers may pressure the consultant to approve what is already built.

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

    The architect provides a preliminary design as a result of numerous Pre-DA meetings with Council and the client. Once all parties are satisfied with the design, a BCA Consultant is engaged to identify non-compliances to the BCA that will need to be either addressed before Occupation Certificate is issued. Architect makes relevant changes to the design to address non-compliances raised in the BCA Assessment. Once the Development Application is lodged and approved, the project now requires documents for a Construction Certificate Application. Engaged consultants, such as Structural engineers, hydraulic engineers, mechanical engineers etc are now required to design the building in accordance with the Australian Standards and compliance with the BCA. Remaining non-compliance(s) that could not be addressed through design changes will be addressed by a qualified engineer, such as a Fire Safety Engineer, through Performance Solutions. Construction Certificate application comprising of various disciplines as mentioned above, is lodged and approved, either by council or by a private certifying authority (assuming that certifying authority is satisfied with the Performance Solutions and that all respective disciplines have designed their part in accordance with the correct Australian Standards and BCA Clause(s)). Construction documentation is now required for the engaged builder to start works. Architect, structural engineer, mechanical engineer, hydraulic engineer etc, starts preparing construction documentation. Often this is done in parallel to demolition and excavation of the site. The builder now has a set of plans from all respective disciplines to start their works on-site. Excavation is complete, and basement structure is now being constructed, the Private Certifying Authority or Council is called to site for periodic inspection during the course of the project. The project is now close to completion and a final inspection by the engaged consultants carryout a walkthrough to identify any construction defects or non-compliances to the BCA that needs to be addressed by the builder or through Performance Solution(s). The project is now completed, all non-compliances have been addressed by the builder and / or consultant(s) through Performance Solution(s) and the Private Certifying Authority or Council is now satisfied that all non-compliances raised in the BCA Assessment Report as well as during the periodic site visits have been addressed, an Occupation Certificate is then issued.

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

    The builder needs to provide statutory declaration that the construction works have been carried out in accordance with all the details and specifications provided by the engineers and architect. For example, the performance of and the individual building elements that make up the slabs, columns, beams etc have been constructed to meet to meet the requirements as specified in the structural engineers documentations.

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

    We look at the bigger circle, where a developer may comprise of small teams of builders and that small team of builders may comprise of individual contractors. Now the problem lies in site management, and over seeing the works of each individual contractor. Make contractors and the builders that they represent, accountable for a reasonable duration, whether it is the 7 year defect period, or the same as an architect, being the life of the building. What ever the period, as long as there is accountability for the lack of care and workmanship placed on contractors and builders.

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

    The existing licensing regimes is not the problem. For example, the main reason why architects are architects is because they care about the built environment. Architects care about an environment being suitable for its use. The liability of an architect is for the life of the building they designed. The liability for a builder is 7 years after completion. Architects do not trade under different subsidiaries because their business name is their identity, whereas, builders often trade under different subsidiaries that no longer exists once the project is completed. Contracts and administration needs to be

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

    Appropriate experience and training of the Classification of Building Types. Therefore, in the BCA, there are various building classifications, and depending on the experience and exposure to particular building classifications, an individual applying for registration should be limited to that of their personal experience. Therefore, as a starting point, a builder with Class 1a and 10 experience, should be restricted from tendering for other classification types.

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

    Public Indemnity as a bare minimum. To ensure the end user or the general public do not suffer from the lack of care or negligence of a building designer / engineer / builder / certifying authority etc.

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

    This is quite a broad spectrum and large topic, however, we are faced with hazards on a daily basis. The insurance policies may cover the types of hazards and the ratings of the hazards. For example, Class 1 hazards could be minor, such as slip resistance of floor finishes or performance of poor lighting that causes minor trips, right up to Class 20 for example, being the more severe hazards such as structural defects, inappropriate material types that may cause loss of life. The insurance policies may, depending on the type of classification, require all stakeholders to obtain a policy that covers the spectrum of hazard ratings. This hazard rating should also be in lieu with the Classification types of the BCA, whether it is a residential apartment building, where a hazard has an impact on a greater number of occupants compared to a private residential house. The length of insurance policy should be for the life of the building, as this would eliminate those who are not invested in the better future of others or in it for the right reasons.

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

    A very broad question, but Building designers should have as a minimum the basic skills of designing for the purpose and the BCA requirements for that purpose. For example, if its a swimming pool, then there are slip resistance requirements for tiles, what tiles are suitable or the climbable zones of a pool fence etc. To more complex situations, such as facades, the different types of metals such as copper and how copper reacts to other metals according to the periodic table. Its designing within their means and if they are pushing boundaries, be capable of learning before practicing.

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

    All that is involved in a project, from the architect, client, engineers, certifying authority right through to the contractors. All building practitioners, even to the supplier of the materials, must owe a duty of care.

  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?

    All works. An example, going back to the swimming pool, the architect specifies a tile that is recommended by the tile supplier that it meets the slip resistance tests as specified in the Australian Standards and BCA. Now, when the architect requests for certificate of conformity that the tiles meets the test requirements, the supplier or manufacturer of that tile needs to provide the correct certificates as a duty of care. Not just for their own interests, but for the well being of the end user or greater public. Or a structural engineer specifies a reinforcement bar of N12 with a specific aggregate within the concrete slab, the contractor engaged to carryout the concrete works and formworks need to have the duty of care to ensure that those specifications are being carried out on-site. So in short, every scope during the life of the project needs to be shown a duty of care in all disciplines.

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

    The general public. As an architect and engineer, I have been trained and taught to be a servant to the general public.

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