What Is the Role of a Building Surveyor in Construction Work?

Posted on: 3 November 2021


Building surveyors play a crucial role in all aspects of the construction and maintenance of an entire range of diverse types of buildings. They are responsible for making sure that the buildings are safe for everyone to use, that they are energy efficient and that they comply with all legal requirements for accessibility.

Building surveyors work within a specific building regulatory framework that is established both at a state and national level.

Regulatory framework

A regulatory framework is a legal structure within which buildings are constructed and maintained. This structure is normally twofold. States will have their own regulations, which normally include the Building Code of Australia, a part of the National Construction Code.

These regulations are likely to be slightly modified by different states to make allowances for local community needs and requirements.

The National Construction Code brings together several previous requirements into a single framework, combining all building regulations and plumbing regulations that previously existed at a national, federal, and local government level.

Role of a building surveyor

A building surveyor will work within the above structure from the initial application for a building permit to final construction, final inspection, and the agreement to issue or to cancel an occupancy permit.

The initial issuing of a building permit requires a high degree of scrutiny by the surveyor to make sure that the proposed work is viable in many areas. This can include the nature of the land, what materials are likely to be used in the construction, and how the various components of the building will work together.

This includes things such as the cabling infrastructure, the lift system, fire alarms, and emergency lighting systems, lifts, and all hydraulic systems.

In recent years, requirements relating to energy-efficient buildings have changed and become more incorporated into the design and build of the construction, and the building surveyor must make sure that any proposed building work adopts a type of design that embraces energy efficiency.

Types of buildings surveyor

There are two types of surveyors known as unlimited and limited. The main difference is that a limited building surveyor can only work on buildings that are of a certain height, normally three storeys high, and a maximum floor area of 500 m².

These restrictions may differ slightly from state to state. An unlimited building surveyor can work on any construction project of any size, height, and floor area.

Building surveyor requirements

For someone to work as a building surveyor, they need to be registered with the local state building authority. This will require the applicant to have specific qualifications and relevant experience, as well as a supporting report that details their technical competence from an independent referee, as well as a police check and other formal declarations.

A prospective surveyor will need certain qualifications and experience. Qualifications normally require taking courses in building surveying from a recognised university.

The level of experience may differ for a limited/unlimited surveyor, but any applicant will need to have worked for several years under the supervision of an established building surveyor.

This work experience will need to have given them a level of knowledge around construction methods and materials that would allow them to competently assess the entire building process from beginning to end and issue relevant inspection and occupancy permits.