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There are a lot of regulations and guidelines that must be followed when it comes to developments. This is why a civil engineer must be involved

Posted By  
12/09/2019
09:00 AM

Whenever you build a structure in public space, there's no question you want it to be 100 per cent safe, to work exactly as intended, and to last for as long as possible with minimal maintenance.

That's why you must engage the services of a civil engineer.

Why is a civil engineer vital?

A civil engineer is your go-to person for preparing construction documents and permits and for ensuring compliance with all relevant regulations and guidelines. An experienced civil engineer will possess an overwhelming degree of knowledge on subjects like building codes, state and national building regulations and, regulations applicable to onsite work processes. This is obviously not the kind of thing most laypeople have their heads around; which is why civil engineers are employed on all public sphere projects of any but the most minor scale. Their input ensures structures comply with the highest standards as laid out in regulations and guidelines.

Civil engineers have a reputation for being 'details people,' and the details obviously really matter when you're building vital infrastructure like bridges, stormwater drainage systems and even retaining walls. If you forget that extra zero when you're working on plans, or fail to carry the one it is going to cost you down the track! Similarly if you fail to recognise that you need to abide by a particular regulation, you could end up in hot water.

What are some of the regulatory obligations a civil engineer needs to follow?

For large scale infrastructure projects, civil engineers might need to be across relevant regulations from a number of different state departments. In NSW this list includes Infrastructure NSW, the Department of Planning and Environment, Ministry of Health, Roads and Maritime Services and Transport for NSW. When two or more different government departments are involved, ensuring regulatory compliance can obviously become a complicated and convoluted process and having an experienced civil engineer on hand is essential.

For smaller scale projects involving local councils, civil engineers still need to tick a large number of boxes to ensure the project is compliant. The below list - drawn from a NSW Department of Industry fact sheet - gives an idea of the types of areas civil engineers may need to procure permits for or to confirm licences exist for.  Obviously, not everything on this list necessarily applies to each project.

  • development applications
  • zoning approvals
  • heavy vehicle licences
  • water usage or constructing a bore or well
  • connection or work on sewerage/drain
  • carrying out high risk work
  • protecting trees and wildlife
  • fire management and safety
  • use of blasting explosives
  • removal of asbestos
  • use of public land
  • work on heritage properties
  • building energy efficiency
  • disposal of waste
  • handling, storage and use of chemicals or dangerous substances.

Australia is a highly regulated country and this ultimately means for the most part our structures are built to high standards - they are safe, functional, well-planned and built to last.

As you can see though, the degree of regulation, not to mention the range of best practice guidelines, means civil engineers are an essential ingredient in the creation of quality structures.