Domestic building inspections

If you are a party to a domestic building contract and involved in a dispute, you can request an independent inspection and report under the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995.

Domestic building inspections help determine whether a domestic builder's work is defective.

Building work may be defective if it does not comply with:

  • the domestic building contract;
  • contract documents;
  • warranties required by legislation; or
  • the Building Act 1993 or the Building Regulations 2006.

At your request, the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) can appoint an independent domestic building inspector to conduct an inspection of the building work.

The inspector will only examine items in your home that you believe to be defective as a result of the builder's workmanship and are in dispute.

The inspector will not conduct a general inspection to find defects, or address contractual issues (e.g. time delays, costs).

Applying for a domestic building inspection 

There are two types of domestic building inspections. Be aware that the fees and the level of service differ with each type.

Building Advice and Conciliation Victoria (BACV) inspections

If you have lodged a complaint with BACV and a conciliator is managing your dispute, a request may be made by the BACV to the VBA for an inspector to attend the site and examine the building work in dispute.

A VBA inspection report will only be provided if the BACV Conciliator considers it necessary to resolve the dispute. BACV must also be satisfied that the total contract price is more than $5000 and the contract was entered into after 1 July 2002.

Full details on BACV inspections are contained in Section 43F of the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995.

If you wish to lodge a complaint about a building dispute with the BACV, download a BACV Domestic Building Complaint Form (Sec43F).

Post to: Building Advice and Conciliation Victoria,

             GPO Box 4567 Melbourne VIC 3000 or 

Fax all pages to:: (03) 8684 6295

Domestic building inspections (VBA)

You can apply directly to the VBA for a domestic building inspection if you have signed a domestic building contract with your builder.

Situations where an inspection may be required could include when a party to a dispute is not willing to participate in the conciliation process or an inspection report is required for a VCAT hearing.

To apply, complete the following form:

VBA Domestic Building Inspection Form (Sec44)

Submit it to the VBA in person or by mail.

In person:  733 Bourke Street, Docklands

By mail:  PO Box 536, Melbourne, 3001

Remember to include a list of the items in dispute, as the building inspector will only examine the nominated defects and nothing more. Additional documentation is also required – view the application form for details.

The fee for a domestic building inspection is $300, payable at the time of application. This only covers the inspection and does not include any tests, consultations, legal proceedings or additional services that may be required.

Both the property owner and the builder will receive a copy of the final inspection report, regardless of who applies and pays for it.

Note: The VBA inspection service does not include a conciliation process.

Full details on domestic building inspections are contained in Section 44 of the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995.

Domestic building inspections

Step 1: Inspection conducted

The appointed domestic building inspector will contact both the builder and the building owner to arrange a date and time for an on-site inspection.

Both the builder and building owner are encouraged to attend the site inspection.

In most cases the inspector will determine whether the work is defective after examining it on site.

If tests or additional consultation are needed to make the decision, they will only be undertaken with the approval of the applicant, and may be at the applicant's expense.

Any preliminary discussions or comments made by the inspector on site are informative only and cannot be relied upon.

Step 2: Inspection report issued

The inspector's final decision will be presented in a written inspection report. This report will include the property details, the items inspected, references to any documents used, and any recommendations made to rectify defective work.

A copy of the report will be provided to the builder, the building owner and the VBA. If the matter was referred by BACV, the conciliator will also receive a copy.

If any of the items in dispute do not meet acceptable standards, the inspector will recommend that work should be done to rectify the defect.

Step 3: Rectification of works

Neither the VBA or the inspector has the power to direct the builder to rectify defective work.

If the builder fails to comply with the inspector's recommendations, Section 179(1)(fb) of the Building Act 1993 provides that the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) may hold an Inquiry into the conduct of the builder.

The builder may be referred to the VBA or undertake a prosecution through the Courts when appropriate.

You can also ask the VBA to hold an Inquiry. You should address your request to:

The Registrar
Victorian Building Authority
PO Box 536
Fax 03 9285 6490

The VBA Inquiry will only hold a disciplinary inquiry into the conduct of the builder and does not guarantee that the rectification work will be carried out. The VBA does not have jurisdiction to order a builder to rectify defects or pay compensation. The VBA's involvement ends once you have been provided with an inspection report.

Other options

If the VBA inspection report does not assist you in resolving your dispute, you may consider:

  • making an application through your Building Warranty Insurer, if your domestic building contract was signed prior to 1 July 2002. New rules and regulations introduced in 2002 mean that you can only make a claim on your insurer for a domestic building contract signed on or after 1 July 2002 if the builder dies, becomes insolvent or disappears
  • speaking to Consumer Affairs Victoria for further advice or possible conciliation
  • making an application to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). The VBA does not give legal or procedural advice in relation to the conduct of your case at VCAT.

Useful definitions

The following definitions will help you understand the terms used in the relevant legislation.

Domestic building dispute

Defined in Section 54 of the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995 as a dispute or claim arising between a building owner and:

(a) a builder; or

(b) a building practitioner (as defined in the Building Act 1993); or

(c) a sub-contractor; or

(d) an architect

in relation to a domestic building contract or the carrying out of domestic building work.

Domestic building work

Defined as:

(a) the erection or construction of a home, including:

(i) any associated work including, but not limited to, landscaping, paving and the erection or construction of any building or fixture associated with the home (such as retaining structures, driveways, fencing, garages, carports, workshops, swimming pools or spas); and

(ii) the provision of lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, water supply, sewerage or drainage to the home or the property on which the home is, or is to be.

(b) the renovation, alteration, extension, improvement or repair of a home;

(c) any work such as landscaping, paving or the erection or construction of retaining structures, driveways, fencing, garages, workshops, swimming pools or spas that is to be carried out in conjunction with the renovation, alteration, extension, improvement or repair of a home;

(d) the demolition or removal of a home;

(e) any work associated with the construction or erection of a building.

For any of the above works, a domestic building inspector will inspect the items in dispute and prepare a written report for you.