FINDING THE RIGHT EXPERT:
A SHORT REVIEW OF INVESTIGATION EXPERTISE AVAILABLE
In building investigation matters and particularly in litigation, it is most important to have the right expert for your investigation. Many investigations involve multiple experts and it may be helpful to brief them in order.
Following is a brief summary of common areas of expertise and how they can assist:
Architects often perform a similar role to building consultants but they, of course, hold architectural qualifications and registration and also possess design expertise.
An expert architect should be able to review almost any building problem and either offer a solution or identify the expertise required to do so. They should also be able to design architectural solutions and provide opinion on matters of an architect's conduct or competence.
Building Consultants take many forms as this is generally an informal field without mandatory registration or qualifications in Victoria. The commonality is that they all have some construction experience and most are good at looking at detail problems and evaluating the cost of necessary remedial works.
Building consultants can be a good place to start as they have broad perspective and typically are able to identify the need for any other experts.
Building Surveyors are experts in the compliance or otherwise of a building with the regulations and with some codes. Some are also experts in energy ratings.
Building Surveyors can provide opinion on matters of a Building Surveyor's conduct or competence. Most are experienced and can assist with other general advice and guidance but they are not diagnostic experts per se.
ENGINEERS, CIVIL & STRUCTURAL
eg: IRWIN STRUCTURES
Although the Victorian Building Authority registration for civil and structural engineers both fall under the same category as do most of their degrees, there are important differences.
Structural engineering is concerned with buildings and similar structures. Civil engineering is concerned with in ground constructions that are not part of buildings such as pavements and drainage. Most structural engineers have some civil experience. Thus a civil engineer may be an expert at assessing problems and necessary solutions with civil works and drainage. Structural engineers are expert at assessing structural problems and necessary solutions.
Most engineers offering forensic services are experienced and can assist with other general advice and guidance and provide opinion on issues of an engineers conduct or competence.
GEOTECHNICAL ENGINEERS & GEOLOGISTS
Everything that is not floating sits on the ground! The supporting foundation for a building is the most commonly problematic issue. Geotechnical engineers & geologists are experts in foundations, their investigation and behavior and on remedial foundation solutions. They are often briefed by investigating structural engineers to investigate foundations and footings and provide advice.
Quantity Surveyors are experts at estimating construction costs. Although many building consultants offer this service quantity surveyors are generally considered to have a higher level of expertise as they possess formal qualification and registration in that area.
Most quantity surveyors are experienced and can assist with other general advice and guidance but they are not diagnostic experts per se.
Inadequate materials are not a common cause of defects in buildings however they do occur and there is a large range of expertise available too extensive to discuss here.
ENGINEERS: MECHANICAL & ELECTRICAL
Mechanical and electrical engineering in building projects generally deal with services and will often address a problem that has been pre-identified. For example, an ineffective air conditioning system.
They can usually provide opinion on issues of an engineer's conduct or competence.
Whilst they can be expected to be familiar with the building industry they are should not be expected to be general building experts.