CEO Update - April 2019

Angelina Pillai , 2 April 2019

1 - CEO Update

The last day of summer saw the much-anticipated judgment in the Lacrosse Tower litigation handed down in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). The judgment considered the liability of the architect, among other professionals, which sparked many a conversation, debate and analytic scrutiny across the nation. Architects were not the only ones participating in this debate. There has been a concerted effort across several industry professions to come together to discuss and dissect the impact of that decision – lawyers, building certifiers, fire engineers, insurers and government, to name a few.

I had the good fortune of attending a number of these forums over the course of the month and a recurring theme emerged from industry experts. All called for a more collaborative, national approach by each of the affected industries to come together and address these issues head on.

For those interested in an analysis of the implications of the Lacrosse Fire Judgment on the construction industry, informed by Planned Cover is running a webinar on 11 April. ACA members receive a 25% discount.

While the VCAT decision pertains to a particular set of circumstances, it coincides with the welcomed response of the Building Ministers’ Forum (BMF) releasing its implementation plan, just over a year after the Shergold Weir Report was released in February last year. The ACA is currently reviewing these recommendations and will publish a summary in the coming weeks.

ACA Membership

Meanwhile, ACA membership is continuing to grow and we welcomed eleven new members in March: four from New South Wales, three each from Victoria and Western Australia, and one from South Australia. As we approach the membership renewal period for the next financial year, the ACA will be applying a nominal fee increase of 3.7% based on CPI. This will be the first membership fee increase in two years as we continue our commitment to create enhanced member value through relevant projects, initiatives and practice resources.

ACA National Salary Survey

One such project is the ACA’s annual National Salary Survey. This survey provides important data on architectural salaries across Australia and has been conducted every year since 2014. This data includes vital information about their position within the broader marketplace. It also develops important longitudinal data about architectural remuneration. The survey has been completed by approximately one third of the membership, which is a small sample of the architectural profession. Engagement of the survey could be improved.

So, in line with ACA’s commitment to ensure we are delivering the most effective and valuable outcomes for you, the time has come to review the Salary Survey. Please spare us a few minutes of your time to answer a few short questions to understand the relevance, value, purpose and interest by you, our members, on this effort. You will soon be receiving this questionnaire, and I urge you to take five minutes of your time to provide us with your feedback.

ACA Time/Cost Calculator Guide

On the topic of ACA tools and services, did you know that it has been one year since we launched Version 2 of the ACA Architects Time/Cost Calculator Guide (TCCG)? Time flies when you’re having fun! This vital tool, part of the ACA Business Toolbox, assists practices in assessing the time and costs involved in providing an appropriate level of service for a broad range of building types in developing fee proposals. I thought it would be timely on its anniversary to undertake an analysis of its engagement and share some interesting insights. The tool has been well used by members and we can track trends of usage, which provide insights into when firms are submitting fee proposals and how busy our marketplace is. Most months we see activity almost every day, including weekends, highlighting how users work across the week. Interestingly, our users don’t seem to be early risers with activity between 9am and 5pm. However, there are many instances of activity in the late evening – for example, 11.30pm logins! Over time, we can draw some robust statistical conclusions on where the market and architectural profession is heading. We are working on producing more in-depth insights for you in forthcoming months.

Just a heads-up – we will be closing off the current version of the time cost calculator within the next couple of months as we undertake a rework on the front end of the TCCG for better mobile support, plus simplifying the sign-up process for first-time users. Other exciting improvements involve prototyping the functionality to store calculations, with the ability to recall it later to ensure maximum user experience. We are also planning to provide more costings on staff and addressing issues such as valuing risk on projects, which is timely given the recent risky business in the construction industry. Of course, as with these types of benchmarking tools, the more it is used, the more accurate the results are, so please ensure you make the most of it. Feedback is also critical. We welcome any comments or suggestions by emailing us directly.

ACA Insight National Webinars

We kicked off the ACA Insight National Webinar series for the year with Robert Peake’s webinar on ‘Business Foundations for Architecture – Part 1’. Look out for Part 2 on 1 May. For more details on the ACA webinars, visit the Insight webinar pages on the ACA website.

State by State Wrap

In other highlights, I initiated branch visits as part of my orientation of the ACA and our members.


First stop – Adelaide! The South Australian committee members warmly welcomed me with great insights and generous hospitality at their monthly committee meeting. The meeting was followed by their bi-monthly roundtable event with building certifiers. The discussion echoed a national approach in dealing with the failings of the building industry, particularly as it relates to materials, products and performance.


In Fortitude Valley, over 30 people attended a site tour of one of Queensland’s redeveloped heritage-listed buildings – Villa Maria Aged Care Facility. During the tour, Bickerton Masters Architecture and Stokes Wheeler shared the challenges they faced and the lessons learned during the transformation of this heritage landmark, which was originally opened in 1928. Villa Maria is due to reopen in early May. See our site visit report here.


In Melbourne, we were delighted to have connected with the Indian Green Building Council, which is part of the Confederation of Indian Industry. The delegation was on an official visit to Australia and made time to present India’s green built environment strategy to us, which is geared towards sustainable living for all Indians by 2025, positioning India as one of the global leaders in the sustainable built environment space. They are keen to share their experiences and knowledge with the Australian built environment industry.


In Sydney, informed by Planned Cover offered ACA members a special discounted rate for a seminar they held on working in the construction industry post the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Speakers ranged from a cross section of industry experts including architecture, fire engineering and government sharing how they are dealing with the practical and regulatory challenges at present.


Over in Fremantle, Gill Matthewson presented the Data at Work: Parlour Census Report, 2001 – 2016, which is an update on the statistical picture of women in senior architectural roles from four censuses. This event was co-badged with Parlour and the Australian Institute of Architects (WA). After Gill’s presentation of the findings, there followed a robust panel discussion between practitioners in architecture and related industries about the issues around gender inequality, tips for navigating the profession, and the steps needed to make change. See Emma Brain’s event report here.

For more news, events and updates, please visit our website and click on the ACA Branches section.