Constructive Building Consultants are building professionals. The construction industry in Australia is currently weathering one of the largest storms in recent years. Combustible cladding, structural defects, and faulty building materials are just some of the major issues to impact the industry. Amidst this, concern has grown regarding the competency of professions involved in the design and approval of buildings. Building surveyors and structural engineers, in particular, are facing great scrutiny. High exposure events have significantly increased this scrutiny, including London’s Grenfell Tower blaze two years ago, Sydney’s Opal Tower evacuation on Christmas eve last year, and most recently the evacuation of the Mascot Towers in Sydney’s south.
The most immediate impact to us as professionals has been the professional indemnity insurance crisis. This crisis was recently highlighted by Industry body the AIBS;
‘AIBS has been contacted by members all over Australia who are facing having to close their businesses due to inability to obtain compliant insurance or because of massive and unaffordable hikes in insurance costs. Many say they are facing financial ruin. Not only are they concerned about their own futures but also for loyal staff, some who have been working with them for many years.’
For us specifically, a 500% inflation to our professional indemnity insurance alone will not go unnoticed.
Perhaps now is a time to emphasise the enormous liability and enormous responsibility of building surveyors and structural engineers, both from a business unit perspective and as professionals individually. It is our obligation to possess the highest level of technical knowledge and demonstrate uncompromised application of all relevant building regulations and associated Australian standards. Unfortunately, the true value of these services can at times be misunderstood or, more concerningly, ignored. Decisions are often made on the basis that irrespective of which consultant is engaged, the outcome will be the same.
We are certainly under no illusion as to the influence and pressure on our clients to deliver cost-effectively, nor are we disconnected from our influence on the commercial success and reputation of our clients. However, the greatest step towards delivering value for money is ensuring that all stakeholders acknowledge that certain decisions will produce different outcomes. Quality, service, experience, and practicality of advice/design shouldn’t be overlooked. What may seem to be an economical outcome during the design stage can result in a disastrous financial outcome in the years ahead. The value of a well designed, structurally sound, compliant building should not be underestimated.