Building

Staying connected in the ever-changing world

Written by Jeremy Turner, National Technical Manager Australian Institute of Building Surveyors 17/01/2019
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Knowledge is key to a stable future in today’s building industry.

The building industry cannot succeed without collaboration between different disciplines demanding each has a knowledge of what the other is doing. Keeping up to date with all that is changing is critical in ensuring safe and compliant buildings as well as strong and viable businesses in our chosen professional fields.

The NCC

In the building industry, some see the NCC merely as a design guide but it’s much more than that.  It’s the glue that binds the building industry together as a reference in common. It allows each part of the industry to communicate expectations of performance and the like. For example, there are over 196,000 registered users of the NCC.

Volumes One and Two of the NCC are vital sources of information for anyone with a building design role such as architects, engineers and building designers. This also includes those with an onsite role such as builders, contractors, construction managers, project managers and supervisors. Volume Three of the NCC is a must-know for plumbers and anyone working with hydraulics in a building.

The building industry is connected via the NCC. And, just as there are many disparate groups within the building industry who link directly with others through their work, there are none more so than building surveyors who deal with almost all other practitioners in their role.

The role of the Building Surveyor

This in part is why the role of the building surveyor has been identified by Professor Peter Shergold and Ms Bronwyn Weir in their Building Confidence Report to the Building Ministers’ Forum as crucial to the ongoing success of the building industry.

A major part of the role of a building surveyor is the application of the building requirements contained within the NCC through design assessment and building inspection processes.  The influence of the building surveyor on the industry therefore has the potential to be profound.  In many ways this explains why designers, builders and others are always so careful to understand what it is that the building surveyor is looking for to ensure a consistent approach.

Keeping up with changes

However, for all of us who thought we knew everything we needed to know, everything is changing. Major changes are coming soon right across all volumes of the NCC. Anyone not able to keep up with change will soon find themselves facing delay, cost overruns and other factors likely to challenge business viability

Despite the pace of change within our industry, there are things that don’t change fast enough.  For example, since the 2015 Docklands fire in the Lacrosse building, legislation to effectively control non-conforming building product use is yet to be implemented in all jurisdictions across Australia.  What we are seeing arising from this situation is a need for knowledge about how to mitigate risks.  Therefore, to remain in business, significant time and resource investment in education is needed.

ABCB and professional bodies provide information via training events, information seminars and guideline documents and the like published on their web pages. Attendance and web traffic statistics show these sources of information are highly sought after. As a further example of demand for knowledge in 2018, the Australian Institute of Building Surveyors (AIBS) ran a seminar series about damp, weatherproofing and fire separation requirements which sold out in all capital cities of Australia.

As the industry move towards the first of the three yearly amendments of the NCC in 2019, we will again see a strong demand from practitioners within the building industry for trusted help in understanding what is changing and how this will impact professional practice going forward. The ABCB NCC Seminars and collaboration with industry bodies will be an important part of the education strategy in 2019.

Ideally, training about changes to the NCC will not be undertaken by professional bodies in isolation from others. It is important that all of industry stays connected in the face of such sweeping changes. Recognising this, AIBS developed a four-day symposium on the BCA 2019 changes. The Symposium has now concluded however was for members of all professional associations aimed at not only understanding the key changes in the 2019 NCC, but also connecting building professionals. It is an example of how all in the industry can work to maintain connection. The Symposium will provide keynote speakers on the basis for the most relevant changes. Some of these speakers are unlikely to be easily accessible elsewhere.

Keep a look out for education opportunities offered by your industry association and be aware of what others are offering too.

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