Frequently Asked Questions – Building Activity Management System
Important changes to the building permit application process commenced on 1 July 2019.
The VBA will continue to update these FAQs as BAMS evolves in response to industry use and feedback.
This page was last updated on 20 August 2019.
Why did the VBA introduce these changes?
In 2016, the Victorian Government commenced a three-year building industry reforms program. As part of this program, amendments to the Building Act 1993 commenced on 1 July 2019 through the Building Amendment (Enforcement and Other Measures) Act 2017.
These amendments addressed:
- difficulties in determining whether all building permit levy due has been remitted to the Victorian Building Authority (VBA)
- concerns that some building surveyors are retaining the building permit levy for working capital, contributing to shortfalls in total levy received by the VBA; and
- delays in the provision of information required by the regulator due to the current monthly reporting system used by building surveyors.
On 1 July 2019, provisions requiring building surveyors to remit the building permit levy on a monthly basis were repealed, removing some of the regulatory burden from the industry. However, building surveyors still need to provide the VBA with information relating to prescribed events every month.
Where can I find more information on the legislative changes that commenced on 1 July 2019?
Information on the Building Amendment (Enforcement and Other Measures) Act 2017 is available on the Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website.
The VBA has also published a summary of the 2019 reforms on our website.
How will we be kept informed about BAMS?
The project team will provide information and updates via various communication channels, including:
- the VBA BAMS website
- direct communications; and
- industry briefings and communications.
If you use registered building surveyor software to manage your building permits, your software provider will also provide you with key information relating to the system you use and any relevant changes.
When did the new system go live?
The Building Activity Management System went live on 1 July 2019.
Can I test in BAMS?
BAMS is live, so any building permit number applications and associated payments will be processed. To avoid causing unwanted transactions, please do not test in BAMS.
If you would like to test a CSV file upload, please contact the BPN Support Team on 1300 241 104.
Can I report illegal building work on BAMS?
Illegal building work should be reported to the VBA via VBA360.
Building permit applications
How do you get a building permit number (BPN)?
Building surveyors must apply for a BPN on BAMS by lodging an application with the VBA.
Who can apply for a building permit?
There is no change to who may apply for a building permit.
An applicant for a building permit includes the owner or authorised agent; for example, a builder or architect, or the purchaser under a contract for the sale of a lot in a plan of subdivision who has paid the relevant deposit (section 17 of the Act).
When is an application deemed to be ‘accepted’ by the RBS under section 18AA of the Building Act?
The application for a building permit is deemed ‘accepted’ when it contains all information needed by the RBS to:
- apply to the VBA for a building permit number (BPN); and
- estimate the cost of work and calculate the levy due (before applying for a BPN).
The VBA considers that an RBS does not ‘accept’ an application for a building permit until all required information has been provided and the estimated cost of work is settled.
The required field ‘Date of appointment of building surveyor’ is the date described above and must be a date before the required field ‘Building Permit Application Date’, because the building surveyor must be appointed before they can apply for a BPN on behalf of the applicant.
What is the ‘prescribed information’ required for a building permit number under section 18AA of the Act?
Please refer to the Application for a Building Permit Number fact sheet to learn more about the prescribed information required to apply for a BPN.
How will applying for a BPN impact the time frame for an RBS to decide an application under Section 19 of the Act?
An RBS may consider a building permit application from the time an application is received, including while the application for a BPN is under consideration by the VBA.
A BPN is a ‘consent’ for the purposes of regulation 35(2). The 10- or 15-day period for deciding a building permit application set out in the Building Regulations 2018 (the Regulations) does not begin until a BPN application and all other reports and consents are received by or required to be supplied to the RBS.
When should a change be reported as an amendment versus an application for a new building permit number?
An RBS may amend a building permit if:
- it was issued with clerical errors or accidental omissions; or
- minor design changes have occurred, such as relocating, adding or deleting doors or windows.
An upgrade to fittings or finishings will not usually require an amendment to a building permit.
Substantial design changes that fundamentally alter the nature of the work (for example, an additional storey extension) will require a new building permit. New permits required on or after 1 July 2019 should be the subject of an application for a new building permit and, in turn, a new BPN.
Will BAMS replace the need to provide notification to a Council under section 80 of the Act?
Section 80 requires an RBS to inform the relevant Council that the RBS has been appointed for a particular building work within seven days. This is a statutory obligation separate to a BPN application.
While BAMS will be collecting the date an RBS was appointed, this information will not be reported to the VBA until the RBS applies for a BPN.
What happens if I don’t know who the builder will be, but I want to lodge a BPN application?
The builder’s information forms part of the prescribed information that must be provided in a building permit application, as set out in Form 1 of the Regulations. You will be required to enter the builder’s details to apply for a BPN.
Will Form 1 (Application for a Building Permit) be updated with the new fields that BAMS requires?
No. A building permit application will still be made using Form 1 (Application for a Building Permit) from Schedule 4 of the Regulations.
If an application for a building permit was ‘accepted’ before 1 July, but the permit is issued on or after 1 July, should the application for a BPN be made through BAMS or does it follow the old levy return process?
A transitional provision at clause 12 of Schedule 10 of the Act preserves the applicable law with respect to building permit applications received by an RBS before 1 July 2019.
This means that, where an RBS accepts an application before 1 July 2019, a building permit may be issued in accordance with the provisions of the Act that existed at the time the application for a building permit was accepted. As a result, there is no requirement for the RBS to apply to the VBA for a BPN. They would also follow the existing process of reporting via a levy return.
The RBS may choose, however, to apply for a BPN via BAMS for administrative efficiency. This option is recommended, as it will reduce the administrative burden associated with reporting under two different mechanisms for August 2019.
Please see scenario 4 of the Transitional Reporting Arrangements fact sheet for further information.
What happens if my session times out or I see an error message during an application?
BAMS will timeout after 12 hours. It will also time out if your computer goes to sleep or you lose your internet connection. If any of these scenarios occur, the best thing to do is refresh the page.
If you saved a portal application, you can find the draft in the ‘Manage Applications’ section.
Which BCA code should building surveyors use?
BAMS has catered for both 2016 and new BCA codes. Building surveyors can use the most appropriate available to them. If the third-party software currently only allows the 2016 BCA codes, building surveyors can use the closest 2016 BCA code until the new codes are updated in the system.
Estimation of cost of work
Are there changes to how an RBS is to estimate the cost of work (COW)?
There is no change to how an RBS is to estimate the COW. Section 205I of the Building Act remains in force.
An RBS must estimate the cost of building work (including the cost of labour and materials) for which an application is sought. This estimation should be made having regard to information provided by a building permit applicant under section 205H (1) of the Act. An RBS will estimate the cost of building work by referring to the contract price if there is a contract for work or use sufficient information provided by the applicant.
Schedule 4, Form 1 ‘Application for a Building Permit’ has not changed in relation to the information a building permit applicant must provide.
- The applicant must indicate on the application form if a contract is in place for the proposed work.
- If a contract is in place, the applicant must state the contract price.
- If a contract is not in place, the applicant must state the estimate of the cost of the work and attach details showing the method of estimation.
The RBS’ function in estimating cost of work is to ensure that cost information supplied by the applicant is reasonable. The RBS cannot provide an assurance that the initial estimate will match the revised final cost of work.
What should an RBS consider when estimating the COW?
In estimating the COW, an RBS should consider whether the:
- contract price is substantially lower than expected for the type of work (e.g. a $2,000 contract for a detached house)
- information provided by the applicant is wrong or misleading (e.g. has the applicant missed a zero in their estimate, under-costed some aspect of the work or omitted to estimate cost for some aspect of the work?); and
- method of estimation is reliable and likely to result in an accurate outcome (e.g. What assistance has the applicant sought in estimating costs, if any? Does the information provided show that the applicant has duly considered and costed all aspects of the proposed work? Is the estimate based on reasonable assumptions or information about nature and extent of labour and materials?)
Are there any new grounds on which an RBS should refuse a building permit application?
There are no changes to the grounds on which an RBS can refuse a building permit application under sections 24, 24A and Schedule 2 of the Act.
However, new section 205HA of the Act introduces grounds on which an RBS must refuse a building permit application. For this to occur, an RBS must be satisfied that:
the contract price for the work specified in an application is substantially lower than the price normally payable under contracts for work of that kind; or
the application either does not include sufficient information to enable the RBS to estimate the COW or it contains statements about the cost of building work that are false or misleading in a material respect.
Please refer to questions 8, 9, 11 and 12 in this FAQ document for further information about estimating cost of work.
Does the RBS still need to notify the applicant of the estimated COW?
There is no change to an RBS’ duty to notify a building permit applicant of the estimated COW and levy due (section 205I of the Act).
Notification to an owner should take place when applying for a BPN, and all amounts notified should match the amounts entered in BAMS.
Who is authorised to pay the levy?
Under new section 205GA of the Act, an applicant for a building permit, or a person acting on their behalf, must pay to the VBA the amount of building permit levy calculated under section 205I before a building permit is issued.
Under what circumstances will the VBA refund paid building permit levy?
The VBA may refund paid building permit levy before a building permit has been issued. Situations where the RBS may request the VBA refund paid building permit levy include:
- a building practitioner becoming suspended or losing their registration
- an owner/applicant no longer wanting to build
- an owner/applicant becoming unable to proceed with their build; and
- an applicant paying too much levy (e.g. $100,000 instead of $10,000) due to an administrative error after a BPN was issued.
The VBA will not refund paid building permit levy after a building permit has been issued.
Re-assessment of building permit levy
Under what part of the legislation can the VBA re-assess building permit levy after a building permit is issued?
Section 205L empowers the VBA to re-assess building permit levy.
The VBA may re-assess a levy after a building permit is issued and within five years of completion of work where:
- variation to the building work has resulted in an increased cost of building work
- the RBS’ estimate of the cost of work was incorrect; or
- the VBA considers information provided in a building permit application to be incorrect or misleading.
Re-assessment provisions in the Act only apply to building permits issued after 1 July 2019 (clause 14, Schedule 10).
What matters does the VBA consider when re-assessing levy?
Under section 205L of the Act, the VBA must consider the following when re-assessing a building permit levy:
- information included in the building permit application under section 205H
- any other information relating to the cost of building work given to the VBA by the building permit applicant or the RBS; and
- any other information relating to the cost of building work that the VBA considers relevant.
How long will the applicant/owner have to pay the revised levy amount when a levy has been re-assessed?
Under section 205LD, a person who is given a notice to pay additional levy under section 205LB(1)(a) must pay the additional amount of building permit levy (and any penalty levy that might apply) to the VBA within 14 days of notice being given.
Revised final cost of works
Who is responsible for informing the VBA of revised costs of work?
New section 205KA creates new reporting requirements for cases where the final cost of building work carried out under a building permit exceeds the cost of work originally estimated for that building permit. This duty arises upon completion of building work (or if it is staged, the end of the relevant stage of building work) when:
- the owner becomes aware of the revised final cost of building work
- the revised final cost is at least $15,652 more than the original cost estimated for the purposes of the building permit; and
- the building work was carried out under a permit with a VBA-generated BPN.
For the purpose of section 205KA, how is the owner/applicant expected to advise the VBA of the final cost of works?
Once a permit is issued, the owner/applicant should monitor the cost of work and maintain records of the cost of work.
- Variations to building work during the life of a permit are likely to result in the cost of work (COW) increasing or decreasing from the amount initially estimated, which may increase the amount of levy the VBA is entitled to collect.
- These variations may require amendments to the building permit (for example, changing the position of a window does require amendments, while an upgrade to fittings and finishes does not).
- Variations that alter the nature of the work fundamentally should be the subject of a new building permit application.
- Whether or not the variation was related to an amendment that was or should have been issued does not affect the duty to include any resulting increase in COW in the calculation of the revised final COW.
- This duty will fall to the owner or, if the variation related to an amendment of the building permit, the building permit applicant.
How will the owner/applicant inform the VBA of a revised final cost of work under section 205KA?
The form is an editable PDF. Please download the form and complete it on your computer, not in your browser.
What happens if the revised final cost of work is less than the estimated cost of work? Will the owner/applicant receive a refund?
There is no capacity for the VBA to re-assess levy for over-estimated costs of work. A reimbursement of the building permit levy is allowable only in circumstances where the levy was paid prior to the issue of a building permit and the application is withdrawn prior to the issue of the building permit.
Note: The VBA will not reimburse building permit levy if:
- building work does not proceed
- building work is partially completed
- a building permit lapses; or
- a building permit is cancelled.
How long will the owner/applicant have to pay any additional levy?
Payment is due 14 days after notice is given.
BAMS registration and login details
What is the Building Activity Management System (BAMS)?
The VBA is developing an online system – known as the Building Activity Management System, or BAMS – to issue building permit numbers and receive payment of the building permit levy.
How will accounts and login details be established for registered building surveyors and administration staff?
To set up a BAMS account and receive your login details, download and complete the relevant form from the list below.
- Private Building Surveyors
- Body Corporate Building Surveyors
- Municipal Councils
- Private Lodging Organisations
Email the completed form to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who will have access to data in the system?
Only authorised registered building surveyors and their nominated administration staff will have access to data in the BAMS portal.
What level of authentication will be required to access the system?
BAMS uses a multi-factor authentication system to prevent unauthorised access to the portal. When logging in, users will need to enter a verification code on any device used to access BAMS. Typically, this process is only needed when logging in for the first time on a particular device. However, users will need to repeat the verification process if their browser ‘cookies’ are deleted on that device or their device’s IP address changes.
What security does the VBA in place to protect the data stored in BAMS?
Data housed in BAMS is stored in the cloud and complies with ISO/IEC 27001, 27017 and 27018, Australian standards and PCI standards.
How long, and in what format, will the new permit numbers be?
The new permit numbers will remain 12 characters long, plus one check digit (i.e. 13 characters in total).
What happens when an RBS leaves or moves to another organisation?
BAMS will register every building surveyor’s company and the relevant building surveyors who work for that company. Each building surveyor (with their own registration number) will be linked to the company (with its own registration number or not). Each building permit issued will be recorded against the company and the relevant building surveyor.
When a building surveyor changes employers or leaves an organisation, the VBA should be notified. Upon being notified, the VBA will remove or change the building surveyor in BAMS. The organisation will retain the building permit record.
Do building surveyors need separate accounts for separate businesses?
Yes, building surveyors are required to have separate accounts and associated login details for different businesses.
Building surveyors and administration staff will have different login accounts for each business the building surveyor and administration staff work for. The login details (username) will be different for each of these accounts.
Users need to log in to the account under which they would like to issue the building permit. For example, if a building surveyor is issuing a building permit under a lodging organisation called ‘permits r us’, they will need to log in using their ‘permits r us’ account to apply. If that same building surveyor would like to issue a building permit under a company-registered building surveyor number, they will need to log in to that account.
Online and CSV building permit number applications
When should building surveyors apply for a building permit number on BAMS?
The best time to apply is when you have all required information. Further information will be provided in a fact sheet available on the VBA website.
How do we report multiple details for the one permit record?
Users can only report certain details within a BPN application once per building permit application. These details are:
- site address
- builder’s details
- owner’s details
- BAL ratings
- energy rating
- building surveyor’s details
- other practitioners’ details
- building use; and
- building materials (floor material, roof cladding material, external wall material and frame material).
As can be seen, the details of only one builder can be provided on a building permit, while only one energy rating can be reported for a specific permit application.
What requirements are there for CSV files?
All CSV files must have well-formatted data, though there are no naming convention requirements for this file format. You can use CSV files to apply for one or more building permit numbers. Refer to the following resources for more information about valid CSV data structures:
- Technical Specifications Spreadsheet
- Sample Application and Amendments CSV file
- Sample Prescribed Events CSV file
If you are experiencing repeated errors when uploading a CSV file, please speak to your software provider. When creating your CSV file, please note that only the CSV data structures outlined in the Technical Specifications Spreadsheet will validate correctly in BAMS. Information on required data fields is also available from the Technical Specifications Spreadsheet. Please do not change the fields of the CSV file (including those in the CSV generator), as all data entered must validate against the BAMS data structure for uploads to be accepted and processed.
Please note: users must log in to BAMS to upload a CSV file.
If a surveyor is using the bulk upload process, how many reporting files will need to be submitted to the VBA?
Building surveyors using the bulk upload process will need to submit two reporting files.
- A BPN Application/Amendment of Building Permit Form. This file includes:
- all fields required for a building surveyor to apply for a BPN; and
- all fields required for a building surveyor to report an amendment to a building permit.
- Prescribed events and other data. This file includes all fields required for a building surveyor to send it to the VBA on the seventh day of each month.
Can an application for a building permit number and other permit data be amended and updated?
Yes, the system will enable the application to be updated after levy payment and amended once the building permit number has been issued by the registered building surveyor.
Will BAMS validate a property address?
Yes, BAMS will be using an address validation service to check that each property (site) address exists. An error message will be displayed if the site address is invalid. However, an application for a building permit number may still be submitted, even if BAMS has identified the address as being invalid. This change is based on industry feedback.
How will users be notified of data validation errors in single applications or CSV file uploads?
For single applications, users will receive real-time instructions helping them to correct validation errors as they move through the application.
For CSV file uploads, users will be notified of the location of validation errors within minutes of the data being submitted.
If an uploaded CSV file contains data validation errors, no records will progress through to payment. The CSV file must be corrected and re-uploaded – an approach developed following industry feedback.
Does BAMS allow for the withdrawal or cancellation of a building permit?
You can withdraw an application before the building permit levy has been paid.
You can cancel a building permit after it has been paid, but before it has been issued using BAMS. This will trigger a refund process for the levy paid.
If a building permit is cancelled after it is paid and issued, refunds will be managed case by case.
How does BAMS handle dual appointments (i.e. two applications for the same property)?
BAMS will accept both applications, with withdrawal possible.
Will reporting still follow the same monthly cycle in the new system?
The current monthly reporting cycle for levy returns is no longer required. Amendments to building permits and reporting of prescribed events (such as mandatory notification stages) must be provided to the VBA by the seventh of the following month after the event occurred.
Does the levy payment apply to building permits with a cost of works less than $10,000?
Building permits with a cost of works under $10,000 do not require a levy payment. BAMS will issue a building permit number once all required information is supplied and validated.
Will BAMS validate every property address?
BAMS will validate all address information provided to ensure each address is registered. If an address does not yet exist, BAMS will ask whether you would like to proceed without validating the address.
Will BAMS prevent two applications for the same property (i.e. dual appointment)?
BAMS will allow multiple applications for the same property. However, these applications will not progress until the levy has been paid. Applications can be withdrawn or refused at any point before payment.
Why is there a requirement to report protection work in BPN applications and prescribed events?
A BPN application requires users to indicate whether protection work is required for a building permit. Prescribed event code 22 – Protection Work requires the user to submit the inspection details of the protection work, including inspection status and the inspector’s registration number and name.
Why is there a requirement to report NCC performance solutions in the application stage and prescribed events stage of a permit record?
A BPN application requires users to indicate whether performance solutions are required for a building permit and to specify what those performance solutions are. The prescribed event codes 40, 41, 42, 43 and 44 require users to report the Person’s Registration Number, and Registered Person.
Amending or updating information on a building permit
Are building surveyors required to update or amend a building permit record on BAMS?
The building permit number record (generated after the building surveyor has issued the building permit) should be updated when there are new details that relate to the building permit number application, corrections to existing data are supplied, or when there have been amendments to the building permit’s details.
How do building surveyors amend or update a building permit?
Building permits can be amended at any time through the online portal or via an uploaded CSV file after the building permit levy has been paid. Amendments may be required when there has been a change of builder or change of owner, for example.
If you submit updates via the bulk upload process, you will use the same CSV file template as the building permit number application. If you are using the online portal, you can amend a building permit record through the ‘Manage Permits’ section by selecting ‘view’ on the building permit record you would like to amend. Refer to the Transitioning to BAMS Fact Sheet for more information.
Are variations to costs of work captured in BAMS?
Yes. Owners or applicants are responsible for monitoring variations in the cost of works and advising the VBA of the final cost of works. Users can amend the cost of works for a building permit either online or through a CSV file upload.
If there is an increase to the cost of works during a project, do I need to apply for a new BPN?
No. You should use the amendment process to update the building permit record on BAMS.
What happens if there is an increase in the levy during a project?
The same payment process will apply. Either the owner or someone acting on behalf of the owner will need to pay the levy difference using a credit/debit card or BPAY.
Does BAMS recognise when the cost of works is less than $10,000 and no levy is payable?
Yes. BAMS will issue a BPN immediately after all required information is supplied and validated.
Do all staged BPNs need to be displayed on a construction site?
Yes. This requirement will not change.
What happens if an owner decides to change building surveyors?
The transfer of functions process covers this scenario and will be handled by VBA staff.
Can multiple amendments to the same permit record be made from one CSV file?
No. BAMS will only process one amendment to a BPN record in each CSV file upload. If the same building permit number appears on multiple lines in a CSV file upload, only one set of amendments will be recorded.
What happens if I cannot successfully upload amendments or prescribed events before they are due?
The VBA understands that building surveyors are still adjusting their work practices to use BAMS. The VBA will have visibility of attempts to amend building permit records via CSV file uploads. If these attempts are not successful before the due date, the VBA will assist users to successfully upload their updates.
Regulation 47 – Reporting prescribed events
What mandatory reporting is required to be reported to the VBA?
Relevant building surveyors are required to report up to 22 prescribed events, depending on the type of building work. Examples of prescribed events include issuance of a building permit, the date of final inspections, issuance of a certificate of final inspection, and mandatory notification stages, such as upon completion of framework.
The first reportable prescribed event is the issuance of a building permit. At this stage, the RBS is required to complete two activities:
- Report issuance of the building permit to the VBA using the prescribed events process.
- Update the BPN record using the update/amend process, providing any outstanding optional or conditional fields that were not provided in the initial BPN application.
Which events must be reported to the VBA within five business days?
If the builder named on a building permit changes or ceases to be the appointed builder for a project, the RBS must report these change events to the VBA within five business days (regulation 47A and section 25AD of the Act).
These notifications must be made in BAMS via an amendment to the BPN record.
You are required to continue to notify the VBA of these events via email using the form available on the VBA website.
Is there a requirement to report exemptions granted or approvals for protection work that occur before a building permit is issued?
No, regulation 47 requires reporting on events that occur after a building permit has been issued by an RBS.
Once BAMS is introduced, will building surveyors still need to submit a levy return?
Building surveyors will need to submit their June 2019 levy return on or before 7 July 2019 for building permit applications accepted prior to 1 July 2019.
From 1 July, levies will be collected upon application for a building permit number and monthly levy returns will no longer be required. However, monthly building permit and prescribed events data returns must still be submitted.
How do building surveyors report prescribed events in BAMS?
Building surveyors must report prescribed events by the seventh day of the following month after the event occurred.
You can report prescribed events using a CSV upload process. This is done using a different CSV file template to building permit number applications/update files. You can also use the online portal to report prescribed events for specific building permit records.
What reporting requirements apply to prescribed events? Do these requirements apply every inspection?
Only the prescribed events under regulation 47 of the Building Regulations must be reported.
How should building surveyors notify the VBA of any mandatory notifications required in relation to a building permit, as prescribed by Regulation 47(2)(b)?
The VBA will consider the reporting of inspection outcomes related to a mandatory notification stage as notification for that stage. This reporting is done in BAMS using the Prescribed Events reporting function – either using the single portal entry method or the bulk CSV file upload method.
Unauthorised building work
In what circumstances is levy payable for work carried out without a permit?
- The VBA is required to assess levy in circumstances where a person is convicted of an offence against the Building Act for carrying out work without a building permit (under ss16(1) or 16B(1)). This assessment is mandatory and may involve an amount of penalty levy and reasonable costs incurred by the VBA for assessing the cost of work.
- The VBA may choose to assess a levy if it believes that a person has carried out building work without a permit (and contravened ss16(1) or 16B(1)). The assessment is at the discretion of the VBA and may include an amount of penalty levy and reasonable costs incurred by the VBA for assessing the cost of work.
The VBA may assess levy for unauthorised building work even when the relevant building work was carried out before, on or after 1 July 2019. However, a levy assessment following a conviction under sections 16(1) or 16B(1) may only occur if the relevant person was found guilty on or after 1 July 2019 (clause 15, Schedule 10 of the Act).
How will the assessment be conducted?
The VBA may appoint a suitably qualified registered building practitioner to undertake assessment of the cost of work under section 205LH of the Building Act.
What will happen after the assessment has been made?
If the VBA has assessed building permit levy under section 205LG of the Building Act, the VBA may impose an amount of penalty levy up to two times the amount of levy assessed.
- The VBA must give the land owner a notice of levy assessment relating to works carried out without a building permit.
- The person who was the land owner at the time the work was undertaken must make payment within 28 days (section 205LL of the Act).
- A person may seek review of a VBA decision to assess levy and impose a penalty relating to work carried out without a building permit.
What decisions will be reviewable at VCAT?
Decisions to assess levy and/or impose penalty levy are reviewable at VCAT, as are the amounts of assessed levy and penalty levy.
Will BAMS suspend building permits for any reason?
Yes. BAMS will automatically suspend a building permit record when a responsible builder’s registration lapses. The building permit record will be reinstated automatically when the builder’s registration number is pending or becomes current.
Relevant building surveyors will be notified via email should a relevant builder’s registration lapse. Building surveyors can view the suspended building permit records in the ‘Manage Permits’ – ‘Suspended Permits’ section of BAMS. Please refer to the Building Surveyor User Guide for more information.
Receipt of building permit numbers
How long will it take to process a building permit number application (BPN) and receive a BPN?
The VBA may issue a BPN within minutes if it has all required information and was paid via credit card.
Payments made by BPAY are subject to standard banking time frames. Payers who provide their receipt number within BAMS will be issued a BPN. In all other cases, the VBA will only issue a BPN once payment has cleared.
What contingency plans does the VBA have in place if it cannot meet the five-day turnaround for issuing building permit numbers?
A BPN will be issued by BAMS, without manual intervention, when all information has been provided and payment has been received. This should occur within five business days.
In the unlikely event of a system failure, the VBA will have arrangements in place to ensure it is able to issue BPNs within the five-day timeframe.
When and will building surveyors be notified that a building permit number (BPN) has been issued?
BAMS will notify the relevant building surveyor via email that a BPN has been issued. The BPN and all relevant information will also be provided to the relevant municipal council.
Will the data from an application be available to view once it has been submitted?
Yes. Once an application has been successfully uploaded, each building permit record and its status can be viewed from the BAMS portal.
Notification of building permit numbers
How will the RBS and owners be notified if a building permit number application is refused (section 25BD)?
Relevant building surveyors and owners will receive an email from BAMS if their BPN application is refused.
In certain circumstances, the VBA may refuse to issue a BPN after receiving all required data and levy payment. For example, where a building practitioner’s registration has been suspended following submission of a BPN application by an RBS, a BPN may be refused on the grounds that there is a deficiency in information provided in the BPN application.
Will building permit numbers have an expiration date?
No, building permit numbers will not ‘expire’. However, once the VBA issues a BPN to an RBS, the RBS will have a limited time to issue or refuse the building permit. The timeframe is 10 business days for a Class 1 or Class 10 building and 15 business days for any other type of building from the day on which all reports and consents from reporting authorities are received by the RBS, which relevantly includes the issue of a BPN by the VBA (Regulation 35 of the Building Regulations).
Staged projects and costs of work
How will staged projects be managed in BAMS?
A building permit representing one stage of a building project can be identified by entering a stage number. This will be a separate field of information for a building permit, meaning the stage number will no longer be ‘embedded’ as part of the building permit number.
A new ‘Project Name/ID’ field will be used to provide a common project identifier to link all the stages in a project. Building surveyors can use this field to identify a project using a naming convention of their choosing.
A ‘Final Stage Indicator’ field will be used to identify that a particular stage is the final stage in the project.
How will the cost of works be calculated in BAMS?
The estimated cost of works must be provided by the relevant building surveyor. BAMS will assist the RBS to calculate the levy payable based on the estimated cost of works.
What reports will BAMS be able to generate?
Relevant building surveyors will be able to view the following information in BAMS as part of the first release:
- all building permit number applications
- all pending payments for building permit number applications
- all issued building permit numbers; and
- all issued building permits
Additional reports and views may be developed for future releases of BAMS.
Will reporting still follow the same monthly cycle in the new system?
The current levy return monthly reporting system is no longer required. Amendments to building permits and reporting of prescribed events (e.g. mandatory notification stages) must be provided to the VBA by the seventh of the following month after the event occurred.
How does a building permit number get closed out?
A building permit number (BPN) will be issued by the VBA after all required information has been provided by the RBS and any levy payment has been made. The BPN will be a unique identifier of the associated building permit issued by the RBS. The BPN will remain valid if the building permit is active (i.e. not cancelled or closed).
Will an API for BAMS be available on 1 July 2019?
No. An API for BAMS will not be available on 1 July 2019. Options for the introduction of an API might be explored in future iterations.
How do you report prescribed events across staged permits?
BAMS enables reporting of prescribed events at each stage, and events should be reported on at each relevant stage. A notes field for further descriptions will be provided.
Levy calculation and payment
How will the building permit levy be calculated on staged projects and combined allotments?
Relevant building surveyors must provide an estimated cost of works for each permit application. For staged projects and combined allotments, BAMS will assist the RBS to calculate the levy payable based on the estimated cost of works.
How will the levy be calculated when a project incurs increased building costs during construction?
If the increased cost of work results in an amended building permit being issued, relevant building surveyors will need to report the increased cost as an amended building permit via a “BPN Application/Amendment of Building Permit”.
Based on the new information, the levy will be re-assessed and calculated based on any previous levy amounts that have been paid and whether the new works attract an additional levy.
If an owner/applicant is aware of the increased cost of work, and the increase is $15,625 or more, they must notify the VBA within 28 days of becoming aware of the increase. This requirement applies to increases in costs of work that do not result in an amended building permit being issued.
When levy payment options become available through BAMS, will there be an option to hold an account with the VBA?
BAMS only accepts payments via BPAY and credit/debit card (Visa and MasterCard). BAMS does not accept American Express.
Who is authorised to pay the building permit levy?
The nominated levy payer can be any of the following persons:
- person paying on behalf of the applicant; or
- relevant building surveyor.
How will building permit numbers be issued for works that are less than $10,000?
The process to apply for and receive a building permit number will be the same, regardless of whether the cost of works is less than or greater than $10,000. However, no levy will be payable if the cost of works is $10,000 or less.
Is there a surcharge for credit card payments?
The VBA will absorb credit card surcharges until 30 June 2020. From 1 July 2020, credit card surcharges will be passed on to applicants.
Will the VBA issue receipts for levy payments?
Historically, the VBA has not issued receipts for levy payments. BAMS will automatically provide a payment receipt on the screen immediately after payment.
The levy payment receipt is not a tax invoice and does not include GST.
Building surveyors can access payment receipts on BAMS at any time by navigating to the ‘Manage Permits’ screen. By selecting any specific building permit record, surveyors can view the payment receipt. A step-by-step guide can be found in the ‘Payment Receipts’ section of the Building Surveyor User Guide.
What do I do if I am having problems paying the building permit levy?
If the payment link sent to you by BAMS is not working, please try accessing the link using a different device.
You should also check whether your RBS has withdrawn your permit application.
If problems persist, please contact the BPN Support Team on 1300 241 104.
How will owners know what the final cost of works is?
The VBA will provide educational material on its website for owners and applicant. We will also require help from the industry to educate homeowners and applicants on the application process.
Can invoices be regenerated?
Historically, the VBA has not issued receipts for levy payments. BAMS will automatically provide a payment receipt on the screen immediately after payment.
The levy payment receipt is not a tax invoice and does not include GST.
Building surveyors can access payment receipts on BAMS. Please contact your building surveyor if you did not download your receipt at the time of payment.
Who is responsible for informing the VBA of a revised final cost of work?
Owners are required to notify the VBA within 28 days of becoming aware of a revised final cost of works.
The VBA will provide information and materials for owners, advising of this change, and will be asking industry to assist in the education process.
How will homeowners be made aware of these changes?
The VBA will provide information for homeowners on its website. However, building surveyors are advised to keep relevant homeowners informed of their duties to assist them in being compliant with the new legislation.
Will building permits issued before 1 July 2019 be uploaded to BAMS?
This depends on the transition period. Building permits issued before 1 July will use the current monthly levy returns process. However, any amendments or prescribed events must be reported via BAMS. Please refer to the Transitioning to BAMS fact sheet for more information.
Will building permits received and accepted before 1 July 2019, but not issued until 1 July 2019 or later, require an application through BAMS?
Building permits accepted before 1 July and issued on or after 1 July will not require an application through BAMS. However, amendments and prescribed events affecting those permits must be reported via BAMS. Please refer to the Transitioning to BAMS fact sheet for more information.
Do building permits issued on or after 1 July require a BPN issued by the VBA?
Only applications for BPNs received on or after 1 July will require a BPN from the VBA. However, some information, such as amendments and prescribed events, will require you to use BAMS. Please refer to the Transitioning to BAMS fact sheet for more information.
How do users amend or report prescribed events for permits issued prior to 1 July 2019?
The Transitioning to BAMS fact sheet explains how users can import pre-1 July permits into BAMS for the purposes of amending or reporting prescribed events.
Users can use the BAMS portal or CSV file upload to import the relevant permit into BAMS and then amend or report prescribed events.
Will new stages of an existing staged permit project require applications for BPNs on or after 1 July?
Each stage of a new or existing staged permit project will require a BPN to be issued via BAMS.
What if I am having problems validating my CSV file?
If you are using a third-party software provider to create a CSV file upload and the CSV file repeatedly has errors, the first point of contact should be your software provider.
Importantly, if you can provide your software provider with an export of the errors you are receiving from BAMS validation, they will be able to diagnose the problem and get into contact with the VBA’s BAMS team.
Who can I contact for support?
- Phone: 1300 241 104
- General Enquiries: BAMS@vba.vic.gov.au
If you use in-house or third-party software, it is important that you contact your software provider or developer, who can help troubleshoot any problems arising from CSV file uploads.