Building Stronger Foundations

Submission cover sheet

  • Name of organisation or individual making this submission


  • Authorised delegate/contact person

    Peter Allen

  • Position

    Managing Director

  • Organisation


Questions on possible options

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

    By way of introduction to this submission, I comment: Having worked as a professional structural engineer for over 40 years, now semi-retired, my comments: - are focused in the structural design area - and I will not attempt to answer all questions in this form. Most of my career has involved building structures from dwelling to multi-storey, grandstands, schools, etc, but the last decade has focused on structures for TfNSW associated with rail assets (e.g. stations, tunnels and commuter carparks), both as an external design consultant and as an internal contractor/technical manager. In the latter context, the regime for work on TfNSW projects must comply with the requirements of the Asset Standards Authority (ASA), which is responsible for managing the overall regime. It requires contracted designers and constructors to be an Authorised Engineering Organisation (AEO) - and its processes of assurance and delivery are a worthy model for your interrogation. see: Specifically in regards to this question, TfNSW requires review of projects at stages throughout the design, SDR, PDR and CDR, see: a similar, tiered model could be developed for buildings, that recognises the degree of complexity and risk.

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

    Progressively statutory declarations for major variations. The final statutory declaration for the works should incorporate all (applicable) components, including minor and major variations.

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

    No: - Building Commissioners role is like ASA, referred in my first answer. - all plans would overwhelm the Building Commissioner - Local Councils should (still) manage the process and hold plans - the Building Commissioner could audit Councils and organisations

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

    in exceptional circumstances, e.g heritage-listed buildings; grandstands - just like rail stations, etc: a competent specialist professional utilises appropriate risk analysis and expertise to achieve this.

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

    Recently publicised issues highlight the need for this to be: - a staged process, just as Councils (used to) do: e.g. remediation, excavation/shoring, foundations, superstructure, fit-out, defects, BCA, occupation ... - combination of designers certificates (including peer reviews where necessary), construction materials, supply and installation certificates, and - ultimately certification by the builder that the building has been constructed essentially in accordance with the plans and approved variations (i.e. no substantive difference): this may incorporate certificates from the various designers and sub-contractors wrt their scope of work. That process works in TfNSW - all be it another layer of admin, time and cost.

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

    The Head Contractor collates all certificates and has overall responsibility for assuring that all certification is achieved - likely utilising a Building Certifier as currently - with regular auditing* by independent (government-authorised/reimbursed organisations). *Auditing regime similar to ASA.

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

    Refer above, noting that a tiered approach is necessary, reflecting the scale and complexity of the work: "horses for courses".

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

    wrt Structural Engineers: - Victoria and Queensland have operating schemes that can be useful models - Engineers Australia - together with Consult Australia - has been seeking an Australia-wide registration scheme for decades. - firms need to be registered, with specific individuals associated.

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

    Further to latter, : - refer ASA/AEO model - consistency Australia-wide - simplicity - include tiered registration, to permit firms to reasonably progress up the ladder of complexity and risk (unlike current AEO model).

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

    Inter alia, PI - to protect all players.

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

    Standard PI requirements. With appropriate building registration scheme - i.e. limiting/removing dodgy designers and builders - the PI premium should reflect the improvement in the quality of the industry.

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

    See AEO example: - generally the Professional Bodies of each discipline have already established such criteria - dont reinvent the wheel. - but again tiered registration to allow progression (or regression!?!)

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

    All practitioners owe a duty of care !?! - and duty to warn. I thought this is enshrined in legislation, as well as in Professional Bodies articles/ethical standards.

  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?

    Duty of care within their own scope of work . Duty to warn if they believe some of the work that falls within their scope, is outside of their expertise. Duty to warn if they have substantive concern about work that falls outside of their scope of work.

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

    - Clients - owners and occupiers, including subsequent to initial purchase - with caveats for: - time, depending on component (e.g. paint versus structure) - records/evidence that appropriate maintenance has been done (e.g. by body corporate) - utilising a plant and maintenance schedule provided by the builder at handover. - noting there must also be qualifications arising from alterations and additions to the building. - property owners adjoining (and in vicinity of) works, with caveats similar to above. This aspect is critical, to address affects of vibrations, shoring and excavation, load surcharge/retaining walls, overland flow, reflective light, noise, etc. [The old Ordinance 70 had a specific clause relating to this issue, but the problem needs to be better highlighted.]

At our discretion we may remove parts of submissions because of length, content, appropriateness or confidentiality (privacy) reasons.