VBA alerts building surveyors to multiple appointments for same work

Tape measure and spirit level
Private building surveyors should check with prospective clients before accepting an offer of appointment to ensure no other surveyor has already been appointed to the same project.

Just over a quarter of applications to terminate the appointment of a private building surveyor received by the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) between 1 July and 30 September 2019 were for multiple appointments to the same building work.

Under Victoria’s Building Act 1993, a private building surveyor cannot accept an appointment to a building or building work if another surveyor – either private or municipal – has already commenced functions for the same project.

In Victoria, a building surveyor’s functions start as soon as they accept an offer of appointment. This acceptance triggers requirements to notify the relevant council of the appointment in writing within seven days.

To prevent multiple appointments for the same building work, the VBA recommends building surveyors ensure the property owner/agent is clearly aware of the appointment and that it cannot be terminated without consent from the VBA.

One way to do this is to incorporate section 78(2) of the Act into the letter of appointment to ensure the property owner/agent is aware it is an offence to appoint more than one building surveyor. Details of the penalty where the law is not followed should also be provided:

  • 240 penalty units, in the case of an individual
  • 1500 penalty units, in the case of a company.

The VBA also recommends that reference is made to section 81(1) of the Act in the initial appointment letter to advise the owner/agent that they must apply to the VBA for consent to terminate the appointment of a private building surveyor:

Subject to section 80C(6) and (7) and subsection (3), the appointment of a private building surveyor under this part cannot be terminated without the written consent of the Authority.

The legislation is designed to protect the appointment of building surveyors in Victoria.