Think Engineer. Think RPEQ.
When you start thinking about the development or construction of your new home – multi-story or low-set – or maintenance and upgrades of an existing asset, the first consideration should be the team that will deliver a compliant and quality building. When you buy a new car there is an unconscious acknowledgement that it has been designed and checked by engineers who are professionals and extremely knowledgeable in the field of automotive engineering. It is even more important to ensure the same applies to the design, construction and maintenance of buildings.
The design, construction and maintenance of buildings involves complex tasks that should only be undertaken by qualified and competent professionals. Homeowners, building owners, bodies corporate and strata managers – even developers and builders – do not necessarily have knowledge of the loads and stresses applied to buildings during their lifetime. Or an understanding of the requirements to ensure the right pipes, correct electrical design to ensure uninterrupted energy supply or the most efficient air-conditioning system. What homeowners, building owners, bodies corporate and strata managers do have is an understanding of exactly what they want and require for the end user. To ensure they are fully satisfied with the outcome, they should list and prioritise the desired and required elements. Whether you are buying a previously loved or off-the-plan unit or home, it is important to find out who the design engineers are, and check the credentials of the professional engineers, builders and trade contractors on the available registers. Are they registered or licensed appropriately and with an unblemished disciplinary record? Do your research on who has or will be responsible for the design and construction of your future asset. The elements of the building which may impact your life the greatest are not necessarily those you can see every day. The structure of the building, the elements that ensure the climatic conditions you experience daily, the level of lighting and continuous electricity supply, confidence in the fire protection systems and water supply and drainage will have the most significant impact when not designed and constructed correctly. So, the strong message I want homeowners, building owners, bodies corporate and strata managers to take away from this is: do your research on the designer, engineering and construction teams, ensure they are registered where registration exists, look at their history and make sure you feel comfortable that they have a history that demonstrates professionalism.
When buying off the plan ask these questions of the salesperson and do your research up front. If you decide to purchase, ensure at settlement you are provided with the name and contact details of the designers, engineers, builders and all trade contractors, including information on warrantees not only for your unit but the entire building. If you are purchasing an existing building, insist on being provided with the same details. This information should have been provided to the body corporate managers by the builders when the building was handed over. Keep this information in a safe place, you hopefully will not need it but if you do, it is important you can find it.
The importance of engaging engineers has been underscored by recent emergencies in the building sector. But simply looking for an ‘engineer’ is not enough.
In Queensland, we have a unique and established system to distinguish qualified and competent engineers – the Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland (RPEQ) system. To carry out professional engineering services in or for Queensland, an engineer must be registered in an approved area of engineering. Areas applicable to design, construction and maintenance of buildings include civil, structural, electrical, fire safety and mechanical engineering. To become a RPEQ and register in an area of engineering, an engineer must first satisfy strict educational and competency requirements.
By only engaging a RPEQ to provide design, maintenance and construction services, homeowners, building owners, bodies corporate and strata managers are making sure they get the necessary technical input from a qualified and competent professional.
Yvonne Pengilly is an experienced builder, manager and BPEQ’s building and construction industry representative.
BPEQ is Queensland’s engineering regulator. BPEQ is an independent statutory body and has administered the Professional Engineers Act 2002 and the RPEQ system since 1930.
For more information on BPEQ, the RPEQ system or the Professional Engineers Act 2002 visit www.bpeq.qld.gov.au.