Building surveyors cautioned and fined after development height dispute – Jonathan James Bovell and Bradley James Pike

  • Incorrect identification of floors as mezzanines rather than storeys
  • Inadequate fire safety measures for the building’s actual effective height
  • Building surveyors’ employer at the time is deregistered

WA’s Building Services Board has cautioned and fined two building surveyors for misleading conduct in connection with a Scarborough apartment development.

The Board found registered building surveying practitioners Jonathan James Bovell (BSP405) and Bradley James Pike (BSP350) identified the building’s top floors as mezzanines when they were in fact storeys.

This meant the effective height of the development was more than 25m and it did not meet the fire safety requirements for a building of this height.

According to information presented to the Board by Building and Energy, Mr Bovell and Mr Pike were both involved in preparing a certificate of design compliance (CDC) for the project.

A CDC declares that a building will comply with applicable building standards if it is completed in accordance with the plans, specifications and technical documents included with the certificate.

The CDC and accompanying documents formed part of the building permit application to the City of Stirling for the development.

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

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.

In response, Mr Bovell and Mr Pike said the effective height of the development was under 25m because its penthouse apartments contained mezzanines rather than additional storeys. Mezzanines, which the National Construction Code defines as “an intermediate floor within a room”, are not included when calculating a building’s effective height.

Building and Energy acknowledged the definition may be ambiguous in some cases. Its assessment confirmed that because the Scarborough development’s top floors extended over other apartments and public corridors, they were storeys rather than mezzanines and should have been part of the building’s effective height calculation.

Mr Bovell signed the CDC as the registered building surveying practitioner. Mr Pike supervised Mr Bovell and also had a significant role in the project’s building surveying work. While Mr Bovell and Mr Pike denied any wrongdoing, both consented to the Board exercising its jurisdiction to deal with the disciplinary matter against them.

The Board found Mr Bovell and Mr Pike misled the City of Stirling by providing an incorrect compliance declaration, through the CDC, because the fire safety measures were inadequate for the project’s effective height. Misleading conduct is a disciplinary matter under WA’s building service registration laws.

Mr Bovell and Mr Pike each received a caution and a $1,000 fine.

The Board noted they were employed at the time by building surveying contractor John Massey Group Pty Ltd. The business did not face disciplinary allegations because it entered liquidation in November 2020 and has since been deregistered by ASIC.

Building and Energy has provided the Board’s findings on the project’s fire safety measures to the City of Stirling for its consideration under the Building Act 2011.

“Incorrect or liberal interpretations of building codes are unacceptable, particularly when this impacts on a crucial safety issue such as fire protection,” Building and Energy Executive Director Saj Abdoolakhan said.

“Registered building surveyors must ensure the buildings they certify meet minimum required levels of safety, health, amenity, accessibility and sustainability. Their duty to act in the public interest must come before any responsibilities to clients or employers.”

Building surveyors are encouraged to read Building and Energy’s Industry Bulletin 144 about responsibilities when including technical documents with compliance certificates.


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Building and Energy
Media release
28 Nov 2023

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