2018 Reforms

Reforms to Victoria’s building legislation will occur between 2016 and 2019, as part of the State Government’s building industry reforms program.

The Victorian Building Authority is responsible for implementing these reforms through amendments to the Building Act, the Regulations and other relevant legislation.

The reforms are designed to achieve compliance and transparency in the building industry, as well as increased consumer protection, so that anyone engaging a building practitioner can do so with confidence.

Changes effective from 1 July 2018

Additional limitations on the issue of building permits

Changes to the Building Act introduce additional limitations on the issuing of a building permit and clearly denote who has responsibility and control over a building project.

Section 24A(1) imposes additional compliance requirements that a building surveyor must be satisfied with before they can issue a building permit.

Section 24B specifies who can be named as the builder on a building permit. This decision depends on the total cost of the building work and whether the work falls under a major domestic building contract.

Building surveyors may also appropriate extracts of documents to determine compliance matters associated with section 24B, major domestic building contracts and insurance.

Note: Permits naming an appropriately registered company as the builder must also specify the name of a natural person on whom directions, notices and orders can be served.

Notification of non-compliance during building work

Section 33 of the Building Act requires the builder named on a building permit to:

  • notify the relevant building surveyor without delay upon completion of a mandatory notification stage; and
  • ensure that any person carrying out building work stops that work or any part of that work upon completion of a mandatory notification stage, if directed to do so by the RBS.

Relevant building surveyors must notify the VBA if the builder named on a building permit fails to comply with either of these requirements.

Notification to the RBS of a change of builder

New notification requirements apply when the builder named on a building permit is changed during a building project. Notice must be provided to the relevant building surveyor when:

  • the engagement of a builder ends after a building permit is issued, but before the completion of building work; or
  • an owner engages a building practitioner or insured architect after a building permit is issued.

The relevant building surveyor may only change the name of the builder on a building permit if satisfied the new builder meets the relevant legislative requirements.

Notification to the VBA and Council of a change of builder

Relevant building surveyors must notify the VBA and relevant Council within five days of:

  • a builder ceasing to be engaged by an owner to carry out building work related to a building permit; or
  • a new builder being named on a building permit.

The notification must include the prescribed information.

Notification of change of name, address or ownership

An owner must notify the relevant building surveyor within 14 days of any change in name or address. They must also notify the RBS if they have transferred the ownership of any relevant building or land.

A builder named on a building permit must notify the owner and relevant building surveyor within 14 days of any change in name or address.

Suspension of building permits

A building permit will be suspended on and from the day that:

  • the building practitioner’s registration is suspended or cancelled;
  • the architect’s registration is suspended or cancelled;
  • the builder dies, is imprisoned, or has become a represented person;
  • the engagement of the builder has been terminated; or
  • in the case of an owner-builder, the certificate of consent is cancelled.

The suspension ceases once a builder who complies with the relevant requirements is named on the building permit.

Inspection of building work and mandatory notification stages

Relevant building surveyors can inspect building work at any stage. However, they must inspect building work in person when notified of the completion of a mandatory notification stage.

A relevant building surveyor may delegate the mandatory inspection to another appropriately registered building surveyor or building inspector.

In all cases, a detailed record of each inspection must be kept, and must contain the information prescribed in sections 34 and 35 of the Building Act.

Changes to the appointment of Municipal Building Surveyors

From 1 July 2018, a municipal council can only appoint a natural person as its municipal building surveyor (MBS). In addition, that person must hold registration as a building surveyor authorised to carry out the work required to perform all functions of a MBS.

A MBS may still delegate their functions to any person employed or engaged by the council who is registered as a building surveyor or building inspector, and whose registration authorises them to carry out the work required to perform the functions delegated.

Unregistered or unlicensed plumbers unable to profit from contracts

Contractors and suppliers working under a contract can now recover monies owed in court as a debt when an unregistered or unlicensed plumber has carried out work.

The change ensures that anyone undertaking work or supplying goods or materials in good faith will be protected from unregistered or unlicensed plumbers making a profit from these arrangements.

New registration requirements for building companies

Building practitioners must register their company with the VBA from 1 July 2018 to continue using their company name to enter into major domestic building contracts or have their company named as the builder on a building permit for work costing more than $10,000.

The change gives consumers greater certainty by allowing them to check the integrity of a company they intend to engage on a project. It also offers greater protection by ensuring that the builder named on a contract or permit matches the name appearing on the certificate of insurance.

Note: Company registration only affects Pty Ltd companies. Sole traders and partnerships can continue to conduct business as usual.

Ongoing transition to time-limited registration

Building practitioners registered with the VBA before 1 September 2016 will move to a time-limited registration period of up to five years. The transition will take place over several years, depending on when a practitioner was first registered with the VBA.

Time-limited registrations are designed to improve registration standards and provide the VBA with a means of assessing the competence and suitability of building practitioners.

Registration renewals now due three months before expiry

Building practitioners must apply to renew their registration with the VBA at least three months before their registration expires. Practitioners who submit their application after their due date are at risk of their registration expiring and must also pay a late fee.

The VBA will advise practitioners of their registration expiry date and renewal due date approximately five months before the expiry date.

Powers to immediately suspend an individual or company registration

The VBA’s powers to immediately suspend a building practitioner’s registration have been extended to include companies.

Amendments to the “fit and proper person” test

The VBA must apply more extensive personal and financial probity requirements when determining whether a person is fit and proper to practise as a building practitioner. If the applicant is a company or an individual intending to operate their business as a partnership, these requirements also apply to each director of the company and each member of the partnership.

Changes effective from 31 January 2018

At a glance

New Entry, Inspection and Information Gathering powers

The VBA now has greater powers of entry to conduct inspections and gather evidence to monitor and enforce compliance with the Building Act 1993 and the Regulations.

New and extended powers for Private Building Surveyors

The change is designed to reduce delays for building inspections.

Building Practitioners

The VBA has greater powers of entry to conduct inspections and gather evidence to monitor and enforce compliance with the Building Act 1993 and the Regulations.

With greater powers and more resources, you can expect the VBA to be inspecting more buildings and building sites.

New Entry, Inspection and Information Gathering powers means it is easier for the VBA to get the information it needs to investigate non-compliance and to act against those doing the wrong thing.

Other key changes you need to know about, include:

More information

Consumers

Changes to the Building Act 1993 provide more protection to consumers, because the VBA has greater powers of entry to conduct inspections and gather evidence to monitor and enforce compliance with the Victorian building laws, and to act against anyone found to be doing the wrong thing.

Further changes will permit a private building surveyor (PBS) to transfer their responsibilities to another appropriately registered PBS (with the consent of the person who appointed the transferring PBS and the new relevant building surveyor), and will provide greater assurance that your building work will not suffer delays when your PBS is unable to carry out their functions.

More information