VBA inquiry into domestic building continues
Friday December 23 2016
Victorian Building Authority CEO Prue Digby today confirmed that the authority has been undertaking an inquiry to determine whether there are systemic problems with building and plumbing work in existing and buildings under construction. Waterproofing was identified as a possible systemic issue as a result of the VBA's audits, complaint data, industry consultation and ongoing research.
Referring to recent statements made in the media that structural failures relating to 'leaky building syndrome' would lead to an endemic failure in the building industry, Ms Digby said that it was important to understand the nature and extent of this and any other defects before coming to a conclusion on whether there are systemic failings.
The VBA has sought information from insurers, CAV, VCAT, industry experts and consumer groups to determine the extent and cause of defects and possible solutions. "So far, the VBA has collected over 100 pieces of information, including stakeholder submissions to questions raised by the VBA about building and plumbing defects" Ms Digby said. "We want to draw on the evidence and experience of various industry stakeholders and consumers."
The VBA's inquiry will contribute to state and national solutions aimed at preventing defects into the future. The VBA will complete the first phase of its inquiry findings in April 2017.
Ms Digby recognised the building and construction industries contribution to the Victorian economy with over $31 billion of building activity and over 110,000 (over 60,000 residential) building permits issued in 2016. "The Victorian community can have confidence as the VBA's regulatory activity shows that the majority of building work is delivered to the technical standards required in the National Construction Code" Ms Digby said.
"Victorians should expect that buildings will be built to the required standards, unfortunately for some consumers things can and do go wrong. The VBA will continue to address issues of poor workmanship and improve outcomes for building consumers" said Ms Digby.
The VBA has been steadily increasing its regulatory presence and using the tools it has been given through recent legislative reforms to inspect, audit, investigate, discipline and prosecute. During 2016 the VBA has conducted over 1200 pro-active building inspections (including 120 multi regulator inspections of domestic and commercial buildings in Bendigo), undertaken 34 further audits on external cladding (in addition to the 170 buildings included in the earlier audit), conducted around 1100 builder and plumbing practitioner investigations, completed 140 disciplinary inquiries and 73 prosecutions.
The VBA is enhancing its proactive inspection program in 2017 with a focus on multi-level residential apartments.
The VBA welcomes the proposed new powers it will receive through legislative reforms currently before Parliament. This includes the power to enter and inspect building sites to monitor compliance without having to give notice.