Understanding the Role of the Building Surveyor

April 9, 2024
Understanding the role of the building surveyo

A building surveyor is a licensed professional who plays an important role in domestic and commercial building projects of all sizes. In essence, they provide a range of services that keep building works safe and compliant with building codes and regulations. They also conduct inspections, issue building permits, and consult.

Sometimes, it’s not exactly easy to fully understand the key role they play in the building industry. However, building surveyors are important personnel and without them, it would be impossible to maintain safe and effective building practices. Here, we’ll take a closer look at the role of the building surveyor in Australia.

What is the purpose of a building surveyor?

A building surveyor provides expertise throughout the building process. Their purpose is to ensure that building works, as well as existing structures, adhere to certain standards and regulations.

Every new building project must comply with building regulations and codes. These can vary from local council to local council and state to state. Therefore, the expertise and extensive knowledge that a building surveyor holds is essential for assessing compliance for new projects and even existing buildings that are being repurposed.

If the documentation does not comply with local or state codes and building regulations, the project will not be issued with a building permit. If works commence regardless, the owner and builder/developer may face hefty fines. A building surveyor will ensure that the proper permits are issued and that the work complies with the relevant legislation.

Surveyors also ensure projects adhere to safety standards by conducting inspections and assessing plans and specifications. Safety is a critical aspect of each and every building, renovation, or demolition project and the expertise of a building surveyor contributes to safer structures and processes from the outset.

(Image: Safety and code inspections)

When assessing plans, a building surveyor will identify any safety issues before the building works begin. That might include problems with structural integrity, fire safety, or accessibility. Their expertise and training ensure that they can spot these issues early on and prevent problems in future. The same goes for materials and construction methods that may be outlined in other documentation.

Every building project, no matter how big or small, must keep in line with environmental regulations and standards. These regulations are in place to reduce pollution produced by a construction project, and the finished structure itself. A building surveyor can provide expert insights and advice at the earliest stages of the project to ensure the process will adhere to environmental regulations.

Continuing the environmental theme, there are strict regulations in most states to ensure that structures are as energy-efficient as possible. Building surveyors utilise their knowledge of energy efficiency codes and regulations to make sure that new projects and renovations are meeting the requirements set out by local, state, and federal bodies.

How does a building surveyor apply their expertise?

It’s clear that a building surveyor contributes greatly to ensuring that building work complies with building regulations and codes, remains safe at all times, and delivers a more environmentally friendly outcome. There are a few different ways in which a surveyor will apply their expertise and knowledge in a practical manner.

The primary function of a building surveyor is to assess building permit applications and issue the permits to successful applicants. In general, all building work requires a building permit, which signifies that the works are compliant with regulations and safe. If a homeowner, developer, or builder is planning a new project, they will need to apply directly to a building surveyor to obtain a permit.

In essence, building works can’t begin without the help of a building surveyor!

(Image: Surveyor in Hard Hat and High Visibility Jacket with Digital Tab)

The building surveyor, either private or council-employed, will assess the application, which includes drawings and specifications. If more information is required, they’ll request this directly from the applicant. When all requirements are met, the surveyor will issue a building permit, and building works can then commence (provided any other permits or certifications have been obtained).

Inspections are an important part of ensuring compliance and safety throughout the different stages of a project. Building surveyors conduct a range of inspections before, during, and after construction has been completed. These inspections may include foundation inspections, progress inspections, final inspections, inspections for a building change of use, fire inspections, and many more.

During each of these inspections, the surveyor uses their understanding of codes, as well as their expertise in structural details to identify any problems that impact compliance or safety. A final inspection is essential before a project can be deemed completed and a certificate of occupancy can be issued to the homeowner.

Building surveyors also act as consultants on a variety of projects, providing expert advice on regulations and building codes. They can also apply their knowledge to various aspects of design, fire safety, energy efficiency, and accessibility in a consulting capacity, providing a valuable source of expertise to homeowners, developers, and building companies of all sizes.

(Image: Projects and planning with building surveyor)

Urban planning is another area in which building surveyors play an important role, often in a consulting capacity. They provide advice and guidance on better building design and processes, with a strong emphasis on sustainability and safety. This is especially important when it comes to infrastructure, and designing the cities of the future. Quality building practices are essential for creating better urban environments, and building surveyors are essential for this.

The role of the building surveyor is varied but comes down to a few key elements – safety, compliance, and environmental impact. They continue to play a critical role in building projects big and small, throughout Australia, facilitating quality outcomes in the industry.

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