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Becoming registered to work on class 2 buildings in NSW – Design and Building Practitioners Register

CIBSE Member Case Study
Becoming registered to work on class 2 buildings in NSW – Design and Building Practitioners Register

CIBSE Member, Tai Ng, shares his experience applying for Design Practicioner Status via NSW Department of Fair Trading

Application Class: Mechanical Engineering, and Fire Services (Mechanical Smoke Control)
I am  currently an ​Associate Director – Building Services for Meinhardt with a key focus in Mechanical Building Services. I completed a three-year Building Services Engineering (Hons) degree at Liverpool University in 1986 before the Washington Accord officially came into existence.

Why did you apply to be on the Design and Building Practitioners Register?
I applied out of necessity. The business requires design work on Class 2 building developments, and it is highly likely that the Design Practitioner system would extend to other building classes in the coming years.
 
I initially applied in July 2021, as soon as the Practitioner system was launched via the Department of Fair Trading (DFT) online portal. I was eventually granted Design Practitioner status on the 14th of December 2021.

What issues did your application face?
​My degree was awarded overseas and also pre-dates Washington Accord. It was a 3-year course not a 4-year course. My degree certificate did not provide a testimonial and was so historic that the University was unable to assist with elaborating the course details.
 
​Four months after I made the application, NSW Fair Trading responded, requesting further information regarding the credentials of my degree in three areas in regard to its compliance to their requirements for Fire Services Mechanical Smoke Control.
1) Washington Accord accreditation,
2) Whether it is a full time 4-year degree, and
3) Elaboration on the course being of major mechanical engineering content
I was told to provided further details within 7 days or face suspension.

How were your credentials in question resolved?

I contacted both CIBSE, Engineers Australia and my original university for assistance with very mixed outcomes:

  • Liverpool University – were unable to verify my course information for my degree (at time of writing)

  • Engineers Australia – agreed to assist in carrying our PE1 Competency Assessment. Significant time was needed to enable their thorough assessment though.

  • CIBSE – checked with Engineering Council in the UK and was able to confirm in writing that my degree was retrospectively Washington Accord compliant, and recognised by CIBSE and IMechE as an accredited degree for CEng.

I also managed to dig out a couple of old 1980s letters issued by my university at the time confirming in general that I studied full time Building Services degree course at the university, plus the degree ceremony book of proceedings which identified my name and the degree I obtained.
 
I submitted copies of all the above-mentioned documentation to the Dept of Fair Trading for their assessment.
                                                                   
​NSW Dept of Fair Trading granted me Design Practitioner status for both Mechanical Engineering and Fire Services Mechanical Smoke Control a few days after I submitted the additional information. The Engineers Australia PE1 assessment was not required to continue.

Based on your experiences, what would you like to share with members looking to join the Design and Building Practitioners register?

  1. ​ If one’s degree is awarded overseas and / or not Washington Accord accredited, CIBSE members should apply for Pathway 2 in the Practitioner application when this route becomes available, rather than Pathway 1.

The NSW Dept of Fair Trading assessment system seems geared towards the Australian education system, possibly for good reasons. It has to be said that a lot of non-Australian or non-UK degrees do not have Washington Accord accreditation / retrospective accreditation, based on my observation. Luckily for me mine has. CIBSE was very helpful in assisting with verifications of degree credentials and with searching the Engineering Council.

  1. Engineers Australia PE1 Assessment can take time to enable their thorough assessment.

  2. If applying before 31 December 2021, one receives a ‘deemed’ registration and can continue working whilst the application is assessed. It would be better to make the application ASAP and submit additional information later. In my case it took 4 months after my application before the DFT asked about my degree credentials. If the DFT asks for additional information within a time frame (say 7 days in my case) and if you think you would struggle to provide the information within the timeframe, ask for extension.

  3. Very old documentation in your possession helps.

 
If you are a CIBSE Professional Member and applying for registration status in NSW under Pathway 1 and you require verification of your university credentials or compliance of your degree with the Washington Accord you can email membership@cibse.org for help.

Currently only Pathway 1 is open for applications directly via NSW Department of Fair Trading. The department has confirmed they will open applications for Institutions such as CIBSE to apply to become assessing entities under Pathway 2 early in 2022.

If you would like a little more guidance, CIBSE NSW has recorded a 30min webinar, Breaking It Down: NSW Class 2 Building Industry Reforms, with some additional tips and guidance for applying for Design Practitioner Status. Watch here