The following statement is supplied by Ian Bassett, Policy & Professional Development Director of Building Designers Australia (BDA), regarding recent discussions around policies on multi-storey apartment design and licencing systems for building practitioners.

He is responding to an comment article from Australian Institute of Architects National President, David Karotkin, ‘Why the public deserves the highest level of competency for the design of multi-storey apartments’ , published November 12. Bassett comments:

"I have read with interest the comments and welcome the AIA’s response. It is good constructive comment on a subject that is of importance to so many in the industry.

The Building Designers Association’s intent in all of this was not to challenge the architect’s role but to keep the issue of building designer registration in NSW to the forefront and to get the message across to the government that consumer protection is paramount within the industry.

The BDA believes that a tiered licensing system that is based on competency standards is the best way to move forward and I would like to clarify these levels as my wording in the article may have led to some misunderstanding.

The licensing system that the BDA proposes is based on three levels of competence:


Including: Single and two storey residential developments and multi residential up to 3 units (town houses and villas) All Class 1 & 10 buildings in the Building Codes of Australia (BCA).


Including: Class 1 and class 10 buildings

  • a. Class 2 to 9 buildings with a maximum rise of three-storeys and a maximum floor area of 2,000sqm,
  • b. Buildings with a maximum rise in storeys of four-storeys in the case of a building that comprises only a single storey of Class 7a car park located at the ground floor level or basement level and with three storeys of class 2 above and with a maximum floor area of 2000sqm.
  • c. Excludes Type A Construction as defined in the BCA


Including: the preparation of building design plans and specifications for all Classes of buildings and Types of Construction under the BCA.

Level 1 does not include SEPP 65 type projects as in NSW these are restricted by legislation to be designed under the direction of a registered architect.

These levels of license recognise the level of competence required by a building designer to undertake the design of buildings within the nominated category and should a building designer believe that their level of competence extends to SEPP 65 type projects then they will be required to have that competence assessed under the current Built Works Program of Assessment (BWPrA).

Additionally, building designers will need to understand that in any licensing system there will be a contra penalty process that will apply for those who transgress and that allows their clients some redress for unprofessional practice. This would mean that all building designers would need to carry appropriate Professional Indemnity (PI) insurance and participate in a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program.

These provisions apply now to registered architects and it is reasonable to assume that building designers would also have the same provisions applied to them.

Thank you all for your comments and let us hope that those in government can take it upon themselves to implement the proposed building designer licensing program sooner, rather than later."

Ian Bassett

Ian Bassett & Partners - Architects (NSW Reg No 6987)