Building surveyors fined for misconduct

Two building surveyors have been taken to task over a height dispute on a building in Perth, Western Australia.

The state’s Building Services Board has reprimanded the pair for misleading conduct in connection with an apartment building development in Scarborough, Perth. The Board named Jonathan Bovell and Bradley Pike, his supervisor, as having identified the building’s top floors as mezzanines instead of storeys. This meant the development was more than 25 metres high and it did not meet the fire safety requirements for a building of this height.

The two building surveyors were involved in preparing a certificate of design compliance (CDC) for the project, which formed part of the building permit application to the city of Stirling for the development.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services lodged a complaint about concerns that the planned fire safety measures were non-compliant with applicable building standards because in its view, the development’s effective height exceeded 25 metres.

Buildings above this height require additional fire safety features such as a sprinkler system throughout the building, two fire exits per storey, stair pressurisation to fire-isolated exits, an emergency lift, an emergency warning intercom system, a fire control centre, and appropriate fire resistance beneath the roof.

However, Bovell and Pike argued that ”the effective height of the development was under 25 metres because its penthouse apartments contained mezzanines rather than additional storeys, which are not included in a building’s effective height according to the National Construction Code which defines it as “an intermediate floor within a room”.

It was acknowledged the definition may be ambiguous in some cases, but assessment confirmed the Scarborough development’s top floors extended over other apartments and public corridors, so they were storeys rather than mezzanines.

Each building surveyor was cautioned and fined $1000 while their employer at the time, John Massey Group Pty Ltd, did not face disciplinary action as it entered liquidation in November 2020 and has since been deregistered by ASIC.

About the author

Desi Corbett

Desi is our weekly news journalist and the editor of Concrete in Australia magazine for 10 years. She has been heavily involved in all forms of engineering since 2013; part of a 30-year writing career across a range of subjects and media.