Call03 9458 1666
請撥打03 8391 1333

The Only Constant is Change

24 June 2016
By Neil Gardiner

The Victorian Building Authority (VBA) came into effect in July 2013. It regulates building and plumbing practitioners and its role is to oversee the conduct of those industries.

The VBA have a number of functions and responsibilities including:

  • Registering, licensing and disciplining of builders and plumbers (having taken this over from the Building Practitioner’s Board)
  • The provision of expert technical advice to the industry
  • To undertake inspections, investigations and audits to enforce compliance with the Building Act 1993.
  • Consumer protection
  • Monitoring and collection of building permit levies
  • Overseeing the work of building surveyors, builders and owner-builders.

In order to fulfil their obligations, the VBA has developed new legislation in conjunction with the Victorian Government and industry bodies - which has been passed and comes into effect from 4 July 2016. It will affect Owner Builders, Registered Builders and Building Surveyors.

The Building Legislation Amendment (Consumer Protection) Bill 2015 was passed into law on 19 April 2016 and amends the Building Act 1993.

Not all of the amendments take effect on 4 July 2016, indeed some of the changes announced will be implemented on a staggered basis with all changes taking effect by 1 July 2017.

Owner Builders

A land owner, including an owner-builder is responsible for ensuring building work undertaken on their land – whether by themselves or any other person – is carried out under a current building permit and complies with the Building Act, the Building Regulations and the permit. They can do this themselves (as an owner builder), or engage a building practitioner or architect to carry out the building work. A current building permit needs to be taken out when the value of the works exceed $16,000 including GST (formerly $12,000).

An owner builder needs to obtain a certificate of consent, which is a written approval from the Building Practitioners Board (soon to be the VBA) that enables you to obtain a building permit and carry out domestic building work as an owner-builder on your own land.

Previously owner builders were not subject to inspections from the Building Practitioners Board, however the VBA now has powers to inspect the work of owner-builders.

Building Works

The definition of “Building Works” is extensive and means work for or in connection with the construction, demolition or removal of a building.

Building works includes (but is not limited to):

  • Construction of swimming pools and spas
  • Bathroom, kitchen or laundry renovations
  • Roof tiling
  • Bricklaying
  • Framing
  • Waterproofing
  • Cabinet making, joinery and the construction of staircases
  • Window or door replacements and installations
  • Restumping and reblocking
  • Plastering
  • Painting and decorating
  • External wall cladding
  • Granny Flats
  • New Homes
  • Ground Floor and Second Storey Extensions

Care needs to be taken with any work on your home and consideration has to be given to whether you are required to obtain a permit to carry out such works. If a permit is required this needs to be obtained through a registered building surveyor. The surveyor has obligations to ensure that the works are carried out lawfully and in accordance with the Building Act. The contract also needs to be covered by domestic building insurance.

If a land owner wants to carry out building works with a value greater than $16,000 and does not want to do the works as an owner builder, then the land owner must engage a registered builder practitioner under a major domestic building contract.

Building Surveyors

There are also changes to the regulation of building surveyors which provides circumstances in which a private building surveyor may not act. If the building surveyor:

  • Prepared the design of the building or building works
  • Is an employee, contractor or financial beneficiary of the designer
  • Is a financial beneficiary of the building work.

The building surveyor cannot act in these circumstances.

This is aimed at ensuring the building surveyor is at arms-length to the builder or owner builder and that no conflicts of interest exist in passing work that has not met the building code or any conditions around a permit.

The building surveyor’s role is to oversee the building works to ensure it meets the standards required under the building code, and is in accordance with the permit.

When this has not occurred, there is a specific form that the surveyor needs to complete known as a “Written Direction to Fix Building Work”. The building surveyor has a positive obligation, if, after inspection that he or she reasonably believes that the works carried out fail to comply with the Act, the Regulations or the permit, to issue this direction.

There is, however, a discretion to give an oral direction which needs to be complied with within seven working days or the direction.

If the oral direction is not complied with within the prescribed time, then the building surveyor must then issue the written direction. The written direction goes to both the registered building practitioner (or owner builder) and the VBA.

Penalties

There are significant penalties that can be imposed on the land owner, the building practitioner or the building surveyor that carries out work without obtaining the necessary permit. The penalty is 500 penalty units for an individual or 2,500 penalty units for a corporation. One penalty unit equates to $151.67.

VBA’s Power to Inspect and Direct

The VBA also have the power to make their own directions if their inspections reveal failure to comply. THE VBA’s authority and power to issue directions usurps that of the private building surveyor.

The VBA will also take over the registration and licensing of builders from the Building Practitioners Board, and there will be changes to the appointment of building surveyors so that individual clients will be able to make their own choice of building surveyor. These changes will be implemented prior to July 2017.

The Master Builders and Housing Industry Associations have worked with the Victorian Government to bring about these changes. They are designed to strengthen the laws around construction and ultimately to protect consumers from poor work practices and conflicts of interest that lead to poor quality workmanship and cutting corners.

Use a Professional

The legislation surrounding building works is complicated and thought needs to be given to your legal obligations as a land holder in any such undertaking. If you’re considering renovations or extensions to your existing home, building a carport or a complete new home you should consider engaging professionals so the works are carried out professionally, and with a minimum of risk to you.

  • “The quality of tradesmen Supa Group employ are very good. Our original home was built by a volume builder and doesn't compare to the workmanship displayed by Supa Groups tradesmen.”

    Steve and Anna of Pascoe Vale South
  • “The works commenced in November and as promised the second storey was at lock up well before Christmas.”

    John and Grazie of Box Hill North
  • “Our previous experience of builders has not been great, however we immediately experience a far more professional, friendly and reliable approach.”

    David and Kathryn of Wantirna
  • “A big Thank You for a smooth project throughout all its stages, which did not interfere with our busy household of seven.”

    Naso and Eva of Bulleen
  • “Thank you for working with us over the last year to make our dream of renovating our much loved home a reality.”

    Mark and Catherine of Hampton
  • “Wez and I were very touched by the kind thoughts and flowers we received for our family loss, we warmly thank you so very much...and this is Supa Group!!!”

    Wez and Pina of Rowville
  • “You get results that make you smile every time you come home and open the front door. You get a home that brings you joy.”

    Steve and Jenny of Watsonia
  • “The Design process was like no other we have experienced. We were excited from day one and we are still smiling from ear to ear.”

    Kleanthis and Emma of Oakleigh East
  • “Our building supervisor Braidon Marshall was absolutely fantastic. He was friendly, approachable and accessible when we had a few issues out of hours. We sprung a leak on one rather rainy night, and he came to the rescue after his birthday dinner no less!”

    Danny and Melissa of Coburg
  • “The pleasant demeanor, accommodation of questions and assistance through the process has provide us with a feeling of a priority client. ”

    Peter and Louise of Alphington
  • “What was really impressive was that the building works were completed in an incredible 6 weeks!!!!”

    Chris and Michelle of Camberwell
  • “I highly recommend anyone to consider Supa Group for an extension on their home. I am absolutely delighted we chose Supa Group to make our dreams come true!”

    Tony and Claire
  • “We are very happy in our new home and we would like to thank all the staff at supagroup.”

    Dale and Cristina, Port Melbourne
  • “Supa Group has done a great job capturing our vision with the original ideas and plans we had in mind and the result is better than we would have expected.”

    Con and Daniella, East Keilor
  • “From initial plans right through to the end Supagroup have been polite, professional and super efficient and well organised. Thanks to everyone at Supagroup for helping realise my dreams.”

    Claudia, West Footscray
  • “We have no hesitation in recommending Supa Group and we have already started in our Church community, neighbourhood and Tin's work place.”

    David and Tina, Gladstone Park
  • “We would not hesitate to recommend Supa Group to any family or friends who may consider a house extension.”

    George & Elizabeth, Maidstone
  • “The end result has exceeded my expectations. Not only is the end result stunning but also the manner in which it was achieved was exemplary. I would have no hesitation in recommending Supa Group to others considering extending their homes.. ”

    Jane, Blackburn
  • “...we were looking for a no fuss solution, which would require as little input from us as possible. We certainly found that with the Supa Group. We found you professional and timely right throughout the building phase.”

    Peter and Rose, Taylors Lakes
  • “My family and I would like to thank you for your excellent quality of work done on our second level extension. It's been an exciting six months watching our house turn into the home we were hoping for.”

    Tom and Vicky, Mill Park
  • “We have found the whole experience of a new extension something interesting and exciting and are delighted to recommend Supagroup to our friends and neighbours.”

    Tim and Kathy, Beaconsfield
  • “Every day we look around and are amazed at what has been achieved. ...our journey with Supa Group has been amazing to say the least. ”

    Damian and Anthea
  • “We would not hesitate in recommending Supa Group to others that are thinking of renovating or extending.”

    Maria and Vince