The BCR Implementation Team has released the Model Code, which sets out the minimum obligations for registered building surveyors undertaking statutory functions.

At their November 2020 meeting, Building Ministers agreed to release the National Model Code of Conduct for Building Surveyors. It addresses recommendation 10 of the Building Confidence Report (BCR), which expressed the need for clear standards of behaviour across jurisdictions for building surveyors with statutory responsibilities.

The Model Code provides a consistent basis for education, audit and compliance activities undertaken by regulators. It can also assist building surveyors to meet their obligations, and manage the expectations of others.

You can read the communique from the Building Ministers’ Meeting on the Department of Industry’s website.

A draft of the Model Code was released for public consultation earlier this year which included 25 obligations. The results of the public consultation demonstrated the need for the obligations to be rationalised and re-grouped to clarify and remove duplication. This resulted in 16 obligations of conduct in the final Model Code.

These obligations are categorised into four areas:

  1. Comply with the law and act in the public interest
  2. Professionalism
  3. Honesty and integrity, and
  4. Transparency and accountability.

Included in the obligations is the requirement that a building surveyor must not accept roles where they are required to certify work that they have assisted in the development of through the provision of advice. The public raised some concerns about this obligation during the consultation process as not every locality has enough registered building surveyors to meet this obligation. However, the requirement that registered building surveyors do not certify or approve their own work is consistent with the independent nature of statutory functions and the integrity of building surveyors expressed in BCR recommendations 9, 10 and 11 and has been retained in the Model Code.

A compliance policy attached to the Model Code proposes actions for jurisdictions to encourage compliance, recommended tools to assist compliance, and auditing to confirm compliance. The disciplinary recommendations depend on the severity of the non-compliance; ranging from additional training and supervision for inadvertent or unintentional non-compliance with minimal consequences, to de-registration, fines and suspension for opportunistic or deliberate non-compliance with serious consequences.

The compliance policy recommends an opportunity for building surveyors who have been charged and sanctioned with non-compliance to seek administrative or judicial review. However, a building surveyor should be prohibited from practicing while awaiting judicial review if they’re subject to a serious administrative penalty such as de-registration or suspension.

The Model Code can be downloaded from the Australian Building Code Board’s Resource Library. Practitioners should be aware that the Code is a model, and does not have any force until it is adopted by jurisdictions. It is recommended that you contact your state or territory building administration for information on how standards of conduct are applied in your state or territory.