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Another doomed profession – Building Inspectors

The South African Council of Project and Construction Management Professionals (SACPCMP) has announced that it will commence with the registration scheme of Building Inspectors in October 2019.

Some of the key reasons justified by the SACPCMP for registration include:
• Providing a foundation for the professionalisation [transformation] of Building Inspectors;
• Providing a standard scope of service to ensure that all stakeholders have clear
indicators;
• Legitimising of the Building Inspectorate occupational practice.[not legit at present?]

The so-called “Benefits” of registration

In addition to providing a foundation for the professionalisation of the Building
Inspectors’ profession, registration will provide the public with:
Gratification in the knowledge that there are specific standards set for persons who are registered as Building Inspectors;
• A clear understanding of what can be expected in performance;
• Reduced risks in service provision;
• A safer built environment.

Who they will target

If allowed to proceed the SACPCMP will no longer allow you to work as a Building Inspector if:
• working in or with National, Provincial or Local Government departments or the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) to perform regulated inspections.
or
in or with a private institution(s) appointed directly to inspect construction to ensure compliance to specification.

The SACPCMP has not yet convinced the public of the benefits of regulating construction safety practitioners as many buildings and bridges have collapsed since the inception of the registration scheme in 2014. Now they set their sights on the Building Inspectors, who is appointed at local authority level in terms of the National Building Regulations and Standards Act.

Are we reinventing the wheel or making it square?

In the almost 20 years since its inception the SACPCMP has failed to properly regulate the project managers and the construction managers as the bulk of these professionals are not registered and does not have to be. No legislation links the registration to the employment of unregistered persons.

The only exception to this is found in the Construction Regulations where the employment of unregistered persons as Safety Agents / Officers is prohibited.

Constitutional Validity of registration schemes

The validity of the statutory registration of existing professions still needs to be tested in terms of Section 22 of the SA Constitution, but the day will come that it will be found unconstitutional and many companies will suffer under the spate of class action suits following such ruling. And the “class” would be all those applicants that have been refused jobs because of the registration regime.

More jobless in a desperately unemployed SA

If the SACPCMP gets the go ahead, many building inspectors will be left out in the cold as they are known to create hoops and hurdles only a “selected few” can overcome. We have seen this with Construction Safety professionals dwindling in numbers to such an extent that the industry is in dire straits as fewer projects are granted permits due to a lack of registered agents to sustain the industry.

And as for the cost imposed by the SACPCMP for your “licence to work”, the expenses will put more strain on local authorities and the tax payer without achieving tangible benefits.

Supporters of the SACPCMP

The NHBRC seems to be the only supporter of the SACPCMP to become the new doberman for the profession, the watchdog they believe will “improve” the profession. And many building inspectors will be led to believe this is a good thing. But the truth will reveal itself after October and despite this, the ship will depart for its demise.

The sensible alternative

The primary role of the Building Inspector is to ensure firstly that building plans are approved prior to construction and secondly to ensure the constructed structure matches the approved plan. By the very nature of this function, it is clear that the SACPCMP is the wrong Council for the task at hand.

The building inspector’s role compared with the 6 stages of project management primary falls into the design phases only, and the best Council to regulate these professions is the Council for Architectural Professions (SACAP).

If a registration regime is in fact paramount, which is debatable, SACAP would be the lesser of the two evils to become the watchdog of the Building Inspectors.

You and the law

The PCMP Act, 48 of 2000 does not make it compulsory for an individual to register. The Act says that any person may register in any of the designated categories. But, it does prevent you from “substantially practicing” within the Scope of Services if you are not registered. This is called the IDOW rules, or Identification of Work Rules.

The problem could arise in other pieces of legislation which, like the Construction Regulations, may place a prohibition on employers to employ unregistered persons. The individuals concerned will have no alternative but to register or change career; thereby removing your right to choose your profession.

IDOW and the Competition Commission

The Competition Commission has already ruled twice on the application of the IDOW rules of the SACPCMP as unlawful. This rules out the legitimising of the profession to perform a regulated practice as contemplated in Section 22 of the Constitution. Without a decent set of IDOW rules, the need for regulation of a profession is unfounded in logic.

Interestingly enough is that SACAP withdrew their own application for exemption, whilst the other CBE councils had their applications rejected by the CompCom.

Get your free ticket

Yes, free tickets are available. All you need to do is make waves and ensure you are among the first 10 or so in the queue. To register a Building Inspector, someone needs to be “referee” or “judge” and these tickets are free. No hoops, no hurdles, no exams. All you need to do is convince them you are the “expert” on the matter and you will get your licence to practice.

They have to start somewhere right? And who best to lead the blind, but the one-eyed person?

Roadshows

In the coming weeks, various venues will be visited by officials from the SACPCMP to punt for support. Be sure not to miss it.