A building inspector is an individual who is qualified to inspect both domestic and commercial structures. This is actioned to ensure they comply with the necessary standards and regulations, and the original building plan. It is also their job to verify the workmanship of the builder or tradesperson and to identify any defects, if any. While regulations differ from state to state, Australia as a whole has a very strict set of standards that all builders and contractors are expected to adhere to. Failure to do so can result in consequences for the individual responsible.
A building inspection can be carried out prior, during and after a structure has been built and is sometimes done at random to ensure builders are complying with the correct standards. Commercial structures in particular are typically always subjected to a thorough building inspection to ensure safety.
Roles of a building inspector
To give you an overview, the three main roles of an inspector include:
- Issuing building permits prior to the construction commencing
- Overseeing the inspection process from the beginning of a buildings construction through to completion
- Certifying structure and plan compliance with the corresponding building regulations
It is an inspectors’ responsibility to make sure a building is safe, structurally sound, accessible, accurate to the original plans and energy sufficient. They are expected to identify any problems with design, building materials, or construction techniques and offer a resolution. In this sense, they have a direct impact on the overall planning, design and functionality of a building.
Specific tasks can include:
- Interpreting building plans, regulations and codes of practice
- Inspecting structure, materials and workmanship for compliance with specific standards and regulations
- Estimating time scales and calculating costs
- Coordinating work programs
- Gathering data via the use of photogrammetric equipment and surveying instruments
- Assisting architects, construction managers and surveyors with organising and planning.
Types of issues uncovered in an inspection
Depending on the age of the property, the range of problematic areas, defects, deterioration, or damage can vary greatly.
Structural issues: a building with structural weakness in its roof, walls, flooring, or foundation poses the risk of collapse and injuring anybody within proximity of the building.
Wiring and electrical concerns: this is an important one as poor wiring is one of main culprits of building fires. Another aspect inspectors look for is whether a building has the right amount of functioning smoke alarms to accurately detect smoke in the event of a fire.
Identifying hazards: this could mean identifying asbestos, mould, loose balustrades, gas leaks, water damage or a number of other hazardous materials.
Wear and tear: more common with older, or poorly constructed builders, these types of defects are usually uncovered in a pre-house purchase inspection when potential buyers are calculating how much they would have to invest in renovations.
How do I become a building inspector?
To qualify, you must possess at minimum a high school certificate, extensive experience in a relevant field and a state licence. Many individuals opt to practice a trade first such as carpentry, electrical, or plumbing, so they possess a first-hand understanding of the building and construction industry.
Others opt to seek out an apprenticeship with a licensed building inspector to gain hands-on experience whilst learning valuable skills and knowledge from a seasoned professional. These apprenticeships are combined with classroom-based learning from a registered training organisation. These training courses will instruct you on the rigorous Australian standards and regulations as well as everything you’re expected to know as a qualified building inspector.
Finally, some people prefer to enter the industry with a bachelor’s degree. While this isn’t mandatory, it does help improve your employment opportunities and make you more appealing to potential employers.
According to data from Job Outlook collected from national statistics, over the next five years to November 2019, the number of available jobs for building inspectors is anticipated to be above average, sitting between 25,000 and 50,000. As our population in Australia continues to climb, so too will the need for housing and commercial infrastructure. This will in turn increase the need for highly-trained inspectors who are able to verify the structural integrity of a building and its adherence to the stringent regulations put in place by the Australian government.