A four-year review of building design regulation in Western Australia has concluded that major changes to building design regulation in this area should be delayed and reviewed as part of a broader review process from the Shergold Weir report into building compliance. 

In this report, conducted in the wake of a review of the Architects Act 2004, the Department of Mines, Industry, Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) in Western Australia said that major transformations to the regulation of architects, as well as potential regulation of building designers, should be delayed and considered during a complete three-part review of the Shergold Weir recommendations.

Completed as part of a statutory procedure, the review took into account important areas of architecture regulation—as well as administrative matters related to enhancing the operation and effectiveness of the Act.

Of its 24 recommendations, four concerned questions regarding the regulation of architects and building designers.

In regard to these issues, the report made these recommendations:

  • Additional review of the regulatory model for architects and architectural corporations should be a part of the review of the Shergold and Weir Report recommendations,
  • Additional review of building designer registration should be included in the review of the Shergold and Weir report recommendation,
  • Subject to cooperation by other jurisdictions and the resolution of enforcement issues, Western Australia should establish a National Recognition Model for architectural qualifications as proposed by the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA),
  • No additional action should be taken to define or delete a number of the restricted terms under the Act.

As with other states and territories, architects in Western Australia are subject to registration by order of states’ legislation.

In WA, this registration is administered by the Architects Board of Western Australia.

To earn this registration, architects must complete an accredited five-year tertiary qualification, have earned two years’ practical experience, and successfully pass the three-part Architectural Practice Examination.

On the other hand, ‘building designers’ do not need to attain registration, or to meet any qualification and experience standards – though many will in fact take classes in building design or drafting.

Only registered architects can call themselves by that professional title, using restricted terms like ‘architect’, ‘architects’, ‘architecture’ and ‘architectural’ in their marketing.

These regulations are intended to inspire confidence in the architecture profession by guaranteeing that anybody who presents themselves as an architect possesses a demonstrated level of knowledge, expertise and experience.

Considered in the review were inquiries about whether:

  • the Act should be retained and architects still should be registered
  • building designers should be regulated as well
  • an AACA-suggested National Regulation Model should be implemented in WA
  • further analysis should be conducted regarding restricted terms to decide as to whether some require further clarification or whether the words ‘architectural’ and ‘architecture’ should be deleted from the list of restricted terms, while keeping restrictions upon the words ‘architect’ and ‘architects’.

During the review, substantial recommendations regarding building practitioner regulation were made in the Shergold and Weir report into building compliance, requested at a national level by the Building Ministers Forum (BMF).

Of the 24 recommendations outlined in the context of that report, one would see every jurisdiction require mandatory registration for architects, builders, building inspectors, building surveyors, designers/draftspeople, engineers, fire safety practitioners, plumbers and site or project managers.

It also would be advised that every jurisdiction impose consistent standards for registration and requirements for every practitioner to undergo Continuing Professional Development on the National Construction Code.

Shergold Weir proposals are being examined by the BMF, and by every jurisdiction.

In Western Australia, this review is being completed in a three-stage process by DMIRS.

This process will include a review of the residential building approval process, the commercial building approval process and registration requirements for the building industry.

Papers will be released at each stage, each outlining reform proposals. These are expected in August, during the fourth quarter and in December.

Throughout the third review stage, extensive consideration will be granted to options regarding Shergold and Weir recommendations 1-3, 6 and 13 –; the main recommendations from Shergold and Weir that concern building practitioner regulation.

This explains the report’s recommendation that considerations regarding the regulation of architects and building designers be deferred and conducted as a component of the Shergold and Weir review process.

This would facilitate the consideration of any proposed alterations to be considered as a component of a broader reform process for building regulation and building practitioner regulation.

The report also advised that no additional action regarding restricted terms be pursued currently.

Yet the report did recommend the administration of the proposed National Regulation Model subject to agreement on this model by other jurisdictions.

This move would permit architects to operate across jurisdictional boundaries, enhance labour mobility inside the architecture profession, lower registration costs for architects who work across jurisdictional boundaries, and empower architects Western Australia and in other places to promote themselves internationally as ‘Australian architects’.

The report also recommended many clarifications and amendments that would enhance the operation and functioning of the Act.

The review had been scheduled to start in November 2010, five years following the commencement of the Act.

Its beginning was delayed for five years to allow for the implementation of the Building Act 2011 and other Building Services legislation.