Complaints

Matters the VBA cannot assist with

There are a number of matters which are outside the jurisdiction of the VBA. Who you contact will depend on the nature of the complaint and the outcome that you are seeking.

Click on one of the categories below for information on where to direct your complaint.

Compensation Contractual Disputes Rectification of Defective Building Work
Boundaries (Fences, Encroachment) Criminal Matters (Fraud, Violence, Trespass) Environmental Matters (Noise, Pollution, Debris) Insurance Matters Matters currently at VCAT Planning Matters Worksite Safety and Asbestos

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Compensation - How do I seek compensation?

The VBA cannot award financial compensation or direct a building practitioner to provide financial compensation.

If you are seeking financial compensation from a building practitioner, licensed or unlicensed plumber or an adjoining owner, this is outside the jurisdiction of the VBA and you may wish to obtain legal advice and take civil action.

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Rectification of Defective Building Work

There is often confusion between defective building work and building work that is non-compliant with the Building Codes and Australian Standards. Non-compliant building work is always defective but often defective building work contravenes a contract rather than building and plumbing regulatory requirements. If you have a dispute regarding building defects on your property it is advised that you contact Building Advice Conciliation Victoria (BACV) at Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV).

BACV is a joint service by CAV and the VBA, but it is accessed and managed by CAV. If there is information of defective building work, BACV may arrange a VBA technical inspection to assist the conciliation . BACV can offer advice and can conciliate a resolution if both parties are willing to participate. Failure to rectify defects itemised in a VBA inspection report may result in CAV requesting an investigation of the building practitioner by the VBA.

Examples of defective building work are:

  • Poor paintwork
  • Poor tiling
  • Poor finish on plasterboard or masonry or other finished surfaces
  • Scratches or dents in floors, walls or doors
  • Poor installation or condition of cabinets or cupboards or internal doors
  • Gaps and cracks in building materials
  • Deviations on floor, wall and ceiling levels
  • Operation of appliances, fittings and fixtures

Referring a matter to BACV does not preclude the VBA assessing the complaint, but this should be done after the BACV process. This is because the outcome of BACV involvement may become information the VBA uses.

If the VBA inspected the site and issued a report with recommendations to rectify defects (either at the request of BACV, or at the request of a complainant under section 44 of the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995) failure to rectify may be referred to the VBA for possible investigation. A section 44 report can only be obtained if a dispute arises under a domestic building contract.

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Contractual Disputes

Where you are unable to resolve a contractual dispute between a building practitioner and an owner it is advised that you contact Building Advice Conciliation Victoria (BACV) at Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV). BACV has carriage over the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995, and Australian Consumer Law.

BACV can:

  • Provide conciliation and advice on domestic building disputes between the owner and builder
  • Arrange independent inspection of building defects to aid conciliation
  • Refer complainants to VCAT for further action
  • Refer practitioner conduct matters to the VBA.

Referring a matter to BACV does not preclude the VBA assessing the complaint, but this should be done after the BACV process. This is because the outcome of BACV involvement may become information the VBA uses.

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Disputes currently at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)

If you have a dispute with a building practitioner that is currently at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) the VBA will generally not make an assessment until the action at VCAT is finalised. This is because of the following:

  • The outcome of a dispute at VCAT may become relevant in the VBA's assessment of practitioner conduct
  • If the complaint is progressed to an investigation witness statements need to be taken at the conclusion of the dispute at VCAT to capture the totality of the complaint
  • VCAT outcomes often require parties to sign a confidentiality clause, which may preclude a complainant from providing the witness statement that would be necessary for a successful investigation
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Planning Matters

Where you have concerns regarding planning matters or building work that is subject to a planning permit, Council issues Planning Permits and complaints about planning matters should be directed to Council.

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Environmental Matters (Noise, Pollution, Debris)

Where you have concerns regarding environmental matters such as; noise from building work, hazards, traffic issues from building work or dust and rubbish, these may be regulated by Council by-laws and it is advised that you contact Council to discuss the avenues available to you.

You may also wish to seek advice from the Environment Protection Authority Victoria which is the environmental regulator. They can be contacted on 1300 372 842 or www.epa.vic.gov.au.

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Criminal Matters (Fraud, Violence, Trespass)

Where your concerns relate to criminal matters such as Fraud, Violence or Trespass it is advised that you contact the Victorian Police to discuss your avenues further.

While any matters of criminal activity are the jurisdiction of the Police, the VBA would consider any breaches of the law that the Police identify once a final determination has been made.

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Insurance Matters

Where you have any queries or concerns regarding insurance matters it is advised that you contact Victorian Managed Insurance Authority (VMIA) who provide Domestic Building Insurance (DBI) to registered builders. They can be contacted on 9270 6900 or www.vmia.vic.gov.au.

For your information, a builder must have a letter of eligibility from the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority (VMIA) in order to be registered. This will give the builder access to Domestic Building Insurance (DBI). When a domestic building contract for more than $16,000 is entered into the builder needs to purchase DBI and provide a copy of the Certificate to the home owner.

DBI provides some protection to homeowners in the event that their building project cannot be completed or has defective works which cannot be rectified if the builder has:

  • died, disappeared or become insolvent; or
  • failed to comply with a Tribunal or Court Order where DBI was issued by VMIA on or after 1 July 2015.

It covers costs up to $300,000 to fix structural defects for six years, and non-structural defects for two years. In all other cases, it is up to the building practitioner to fix or complete works, or to pay any costs awarded.

A builder may have other insurance such as public liability but this is not a requirement of the Building Act 1993 or Building Regulations 2006.

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Boundaries (Fences, Encroachment)

Where you are in dispute regarding the construction of a boundary fence or the common boundary fence has been removed and damage caused to your property it is advised that you contact the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria on 1300 372 888 or www.disputes.vic.gov.au to discuss the avenues available to you.

Where you believe that part or parts of the adjoining allotment encroach onto your property, this would be a civil dispute between yourself and your neighbour and it is advised that you seek legal advice as a solicitor would be better placed to advise you on the appropriate course of action required to recover any costs or damages.

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Worksite Safety and Asbestos

Where your concerns relate to matters such as an unsafe construction site, it is advised that you contact WorkSafe Victoria on 1800 136 089 or www.worksafe.vic.gov.au. Worksafe enforces Victoria's occupational health and safety laws, which includes maintaining building and construction workplaces in a safe and healthy condition.

Similarly, where your matter relates to concerns regarding asbestos it is also advised that you contact Worksafe Victoria to discuss them matter further. You might also find useful information at www.asbestos.vic.gov.au which has been made available by WorkSafe Victoria, the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) and the Department of Health.

WorkSafe may also refer matters to the VBA at the conclusion of their enquiries, at which time the VBA may consider the outcome of a Worksafe investigation in relation to the conduct of a registered building practitioner.

Matters the VBA can assist with

The VBA investigates breaches and offences of building legislation, primarily the Building Act 1993 and the Building Regulations 2006. The conduct of registered or licensed building and plumbing practitioners is a primary focus of the VBA.

The VBA will have regard to the severity of a breach or offence, the complaint circumstances and building practitioner's response, as well as the history of a building practitioner when making a decision. Any decision made is entirely at the discretion of the VBA.

The VBA is unable to give timeframes to complainants as this will depend on the information that needs to be gathered. Sources of information include Council, the RBS, the subject(s) of the complaint and other parties. A full technical assessment generally takes six weeks but may take longer as a site visit may be required.