On 31 March 2017 HBP students (the School of Housing, Building and Planning, Universiti Sains Malaysia) were honoured to receive a courtesy visit from Mr Chris Easton, Fellow member of the RICS and CABE and governor of the Expert Witness Institute UK. Chris Easton is one of the founding partners of Easton Bevins, Chartered Building Surveyors, a practice with offices across the South of England. Easton Bevins practises in the UK and also internationally, provides a quality independent building surveying and multidisciplinary service from architectural design and construction advice to legal and litigation, statutory consents and others.
Chris has more than thirty years of vast experience in varied aspects in the construction industry. So when Chris was in Malaysia for several consultancy works in Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi, and Johor Baru, the opportunity was taken by USM as an affiliate of CABE to bring him in to give a talk and share his experiences with HBP students.
Chris met up with around 100 HBP students and academic staff and gave an informative and motivational talk on the roles and responsibilities as professionals in the construction industry. It is very important that we, the students and the professionals to be, feel great and like what we are doing, and understand the responsibilities and liabilities that come with it. Students should be familiar with the UBBL (Uniform Building By Law) and the implications of any construction works that do not comply with the by-laws.
Chris gave a series of real examples found in practice that, if undetected, could have resulted in jeopardising the safety of the occupants inside. His roles in ADR (alternative dispute resolutions) and as an expert witness succeeded in opening the eyes of the audience, with so many instances of malpractices found just anywhere. Local authorities, said Chris, are over and above the law and have no duty to inspect and check on the drawings submitted. It is the professionals and the signing consultants who carry the responsibility and liability. The case of the Highland Towers, for example, though it occurred years ago, is still unresolved completely and was also discussed as an important case study.
Amongst the examples shown by Chris which are common malpractices and defects are compartment floors and walls not constructed according to specifications especially with the penetration of pipings, ductworks and electrical wirings.
The session ended with big applause given to Chris, and the presentation of a memento to him from HBP USM by Prof Mastura Jaafar HBP’s deputy dean. Also present were Prof Ahmad Sanusi, Chris’s wife Marilyn, Chris’s Malaysian host Mr Subra, Assoc Prof Dr Sharifah Fairuz FCABE, affiliate member, and other academic staff, Dr Azree and Dr Mariati.
Thumbs up, Mr Chris Easton, and keep in touch when you are in Malaysia again.
Assoc Prof Dr Sharifah Fairuz Syed Fadzil FCABE Universiti Sains Malaysia
21 April 2017