The VBA released its first Code of Conduct for Building Surveyors on 1 January 2021, which will improve safety and oversight in the building industry and help keep Victorians safe.

The Code contains eight core principles that building surveyors must adhere to when providing building surveying services:

  1. Act in accordance with the law and in the public interest
  2. Act with integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality
  3. Perform competently and within the required level of expertise and experience
  4. Act independently
  5. Avoid conflicts of interest
  6. Document and maintain records
  7. Communicate promptly and effectively
  8. Provide a complaint handling process and address issues of non-compliance.

The new code enforces (but is not limited to) that building surveyors cannot agree to a novation of contract before or during construction, cannot participate in or give advice on the development of design and must have the relevant experience to perform work within their area of expertise.

Some examples of how the principles apply are noted below:

Act in accordance with the law and in the public interest

Example of acting in the public interest:

When assessing the rise in storey of a multi-storey residential building for the purposes of determining if domestic building insurance is required, you should always favour an interpretation that is in the public interest – in this case, the need for domestic building insurance to protect the rights of consumers who purchase sole occupancy units in that residential building.

Not engage in conduct that might bring the building surveying profession or the building and construction industry into disrepute.

Examples of conduct that would bring the building surveying profession into disrepute:

You become aware that building work for which you are appointed as the relevant building surveyor does not comply with the deemed to satisfy requirements of the NCC as documented in the building permit. You agree with the builder that you will treat the noncompliance as a performance solution and no rectification or amended design documents will be required. You take no steps to determine whether the owner is aware of the noncompliance or the decision not to require rectification or amended design documentation.

Act with integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality

Examples of dishonest, misleading or improper conduct:

An owner applies to you for a building permit to construct a four (4) storey, fifteen (15) unit development with a basement carpark. The designer calls you asking whether he needs to include sprinklers in the basement. You send the designer a copy of a fire engineering report for a performance solution you approved on another job which provided for a basement not to have sprinklers.

When performing statutory functions, ensure all decisions and resulting enforcement and actions are reasonable, fair and appropriate.

Examples of reasonable, fair and appropriate decisions

You are called to carry out a frame inspection for a new dwelling and discover that you were not called to inspect before the concrete pour for the slab. The builder offers to provide you with a statutory declaration saying that the steel and form work were compliant. You refuse the offer and instead issue a building order to stop work and require testing and x-rays of the slab to confirm compliance before allowing the work to continue

Perform competently and within the required level of expertise and experience

Example of performing work outside your area of expertise or experience:

You have an unlimited building surveying registration and have only undertaken building surveying work for Class 1 and Class 10 buildings over the last ten (10) years. You have been approached to undertake work for a high-rise Class 2 building. While this may be within your registration, you have inadequate experience in more recent construction methods and complexity involved in a high-rise Class 2 building. You should refuse the engagement and undertake professional studies and training to upskill and increase your expertise in more complex constructions before accepting such an engagement.

Exercise due care, skill and diligence at all times

Example of exercising due care, skill and diligence:

Where non-compliance is found on a building site you must determine as the relevant building surveyor whether it is appropriate to issue a direction to fix, notice or order, or referring a matter of danger to life or property to the local municipal building surveyor to consider the issuance of an emergency order.

Act independently

A building surveyor must act independently when providing building surveying services and must avoid situations that may or could compromise your impartiality or professional judgement. This includes:

Not agreeing to novation of your contract with the owner or developer to a builder or other party before or during construction. The contract for the building surveying services provided by the relevant building surveyor must be between the applicant and the relevant building surveyor.

Not participate in or give advice on the development of designs or performance solutions for proposed building work

If you have been or are likely to be appointed the relevant building surveyor you can provide advice on requirements in the Building Act, the Regulations or the NCC only, leaving the design team to make decisions about how their design will achieve compliance. 


If you have already been involved in the design process or provided advice on design solutions on a project, you must not accept appointment as the relevant building surveyor for that project

Avoid conflicts of interest

Example of conduct that could give rise to a conflict of interest:

Where a developer “promises” to provide you with the next job if you issue an occupancy permit even though the building may not be suitable for occupation.


Read the full VBA Code of Conduct document