Understanding the new building surveyor regulations

In February 2018, the Builders Confidence report was published after the Building Masters’ Forum requested an assessment of the compliance and enforcement systems within the building and construction industry Australia-wide.

The report found a number of shortcomings noted as ‘significant’ and ‘concerning’ with the overall outcome leading to diminished public confidence in Australia’s building and construction industry. The public’s lack of confidence extended to whether the industry can deliver safe and compliant buildings that can hold up to standards long-term.

With the construction boom, everyone wanted to hop on the bandwagon. However, many compliance failures were identified and it was found that the industry has had little to no regulatory oversight.

In order to increase public confidence within the building and construction industry, a number of these shortcomings have already been addressed. Among them is the relatively recent WA Building Surveyors’ Code of Conduct issued by the Building Commissioner which will become enforcable in April 2023.

The Code sets out minimum expectations of registered building surveyors undertaking building surveying work in WA and is aimed at improving safety and oversight in the building industry. It also clearly states that building surveyors are obligated to act within the public interest, comply with the law, act with integrity and avoid conflicts of interest.

Building surveyors have been undercutting each other on price for years, offering lower quotes simply to get the job and win the work. Unfortunately, this has led to subpar work where businesses struggle to deliver with small budgets. This inevitably means that quality and compliance have not been a priority. The Code will hopefully even out the playing field and expose those who don’t follow the correct process and also highlight trustworthy companies.


Below is a high-level draft of the Code:

Building surveyor obligations under the Code

  1. Comply with the law and act in the public interest
    1. A building surveyor, undertaking building surveying work must comply with laws relevant to their work, conduct and organisation.
    2. A building surveyor must act in the public interest when providing advice or making decisions relating to their statutory functions.
    3. A building surveyor must not perform a statutory function in relation to building work they have assisted to:
      • design, or
      • develop a performance solution for.
        *It seems that the above means to say that building surveyors cannot assist other disciplines (design and drafting) with specifics around compliance and that it should be kept completely independent. It also means that buidling surveyors will come in at the end of the approvals process. The one positive side of this is that the independence of services, removes any conflicts of interest that may have caused quality issues before.
    4. A building surveyor must notify the appropriate authority where they have become aware of, or hold a reasonable suspicion of a matter that may create an immediate or imminent risk to health and safety, in relation to building work.
  2. Professionalism
    1. A building surveyor must only perform building surveying work that is permitted under their registration and within their professional competency.
    2. A building surveyor must exercise due skill, care and diligence in undertaking building surveying work.
    3. A building surveyor should maintain their professional competency to ensure their knowledge and skills are current for the work they undertake.
    4. A building surveyor should take reasonable steps to ensure the quality of their work by obtaining and assessing the suitability of all relevant information when carrying out a statutory function.
    5. A building surveyor should work cooperatively with others in the building industry, and regulators.
    6. A building surveyor must ensure that any building surveying work carried out under their supervision is supervised appropriately to ensure the quality of work undertaken.
  3. Honesty and integrity
    1. A building surveyor must not engage, whether by act or omission, in misleading or deceptive conduct in connection with the performance of a statutory function.
    2. A building surveyor should take all reasonable steps to avoid actual or potential conflicts of interest.
    3. A building surveyor should not use their statutory function role for the purpose of obtaining, either directly or indirectly, any preferential treatment or other improper advantage for themselves or for any other person.
    4. A building surveyor should not disclose confidential information obtained in the course of performing statutory functions except where the relevant person has granted consent, or there is a legal or professional duty to disclose the confidential information.
    5. A registered building surveyor must notify the Building Commissioner if they have:
      • been found to have breached a relevant Code of conduct in another Australian state or territory,
      • had a registration or another type of authorisation as a building industry practitioner suspended or cancelled in another Australian state or territory,
      • been found to have breached laws related to planning, building, or development in WA or another Australian state or territory, or
      • had a professional indemnity insurance policy refused, cancelled or conditions applied that are inconsistent with registration requirements in WA.
  4. Transparency and accountability
    1. A building surveyor must ensure any agreement or contract for performing statutory functions is consistent with this Code and any requirements set by the Building Commissioner.
    2. A building surveyor must provide reasons for decisions on statutory functions.
    3. A building surveyor must respond in a timely and professional manner to enquiries or complaints about decisions made when carrying out statutory functions, including any requests made by the Building Commissioner or permit authorities.


The Building Surveyor industry is urged to familiarise itself with the Code, which will assist in lifting and maintaining the respect and trust of the public as well as others in the building and construction industry.