Frequently Asked Questions – Building Activity Management System

We will continue to update our Frequently Asked Questions as we move closer to the 1 July 2019 go-live date.

General questions

Why is the VBA introducing 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 will commence on 1 July 2019 through the Building Amendment (Enforcement and Other Measures) Act 2017.

These amendments will address:

  • 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On 1 July 2019, provisions requiring building surveyors to remit the building permit levy on a monthly basis will be repealed, removing some of the regulatory burden from the industry. However, building surveyors will still need to provide the VBA with information relating to prescribed events every month.

Where can I find more information on the Building Amendment (Enforcement and Other Measures) Act 2017, which outlines the legislative changes commencing on from 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 published a summary of the 2019 reforms on our website.

How will we be kept informed prior to 1 July 2019?

The project team will provide information and updates via various communication channels, including:

  • the VBA BAMS website
  • direct communications
  • industry briefings and communications; and
  • demonstrations of the system from June 2019.

Training and support material will be available closer to the launch date.

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 is the new system going live?

The Building Activity Management System will go live on 1 July 2019.

Will building surveyor software vendors have time to get ready for the new system before 1 July 2019?

Yes. We are currently working in consultation with building surveyor software vendors to ensure they are ready for the legislative changes commencing on 1 July 2019 and are able to keep their clients informed.

The VBA will be working with building surveyor software providers throughout the design and testing phases to ensure all parties are ready to adopt the changes.

Who will have access to the data in the system?

Only authorised registered building surveyors and their nominated back-office 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. Users will need to enter a  valid five-digit security code sent to their email address or mobile phone number to gain access to the portal.

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.

Processes and procedures

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.

What file format do bulk uploads need to be in?

Bulk applications must be uploaded in comma separated values (CSV) format. There are currently no naming convention requirements for this file format.

Please note: users will need to log in to BAMS to upload a CSV file.

Can data in software vendor-specific platforms be validated prior to submission to BAMS?

Yes. Software vendors have been provided with data validation requirements. If the software vendor platform is built to those specific requirements, BAMS will accept the data as valid.

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.

  1. A BPN Application/Amendment of Building Permit Form. This file includes:
    1. all fields required for a building surveyor to apply for a BPN; and
    2. all fields required for a building surveyor to report an amendment to a building permit.
  2. 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.

What are the prescribed fields and events and associated reporting requirements?

The prescribed event fields, as well as the fields required for the VBA to issue a building permit number, are currently being finalised and will be published on our website shortly.

How will fire engineer information be submitted?

Fields relating to fire engineer information form part of the new prescribed events and other data reporting process. Details will be available shortly.

How will users be notified of data validation errors in single applications or bulk uploads?

For single applications, users will receive real-time instructions helping them to correct validation errors as they move throughout the application.

For bulk uploads, users will be notified of the location of validation errors within minutes of the data being submitted.

If a bulk upload file contains data validation errors, no records will progress through to payment. The data file must be corrected and re-uploaded.

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. The VBA will only issue a BPN once payment is received.

When will relevant 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 after payment of the building permit levy has been received.

How will relevant building surveyors receive building permit numbers?

Relevant building surveyors will receive an email containing one or more building permit numbers, depending on the submission process used.

How will relevant building surveyors and owners be notified if a building permit number (BPN) is refused (section 25BD)?

Relevant building surveyors and property owners will receive an email from BAMS if their BPN application is refused.

The VBA may refuse to issue a BPN after receiving all required data and payments in certain circumstances. The suspension of a building practitioner is one example.

From what email address will BAMS send emails and notifications?

To be advised.

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 only calculate the levy based on the cost of works for a specific stage of a project.

How will the levy be calculated when a project incurs increased building costs during construction?

If the increased cost of work results in a building permit amendment, building surveyors will need to report this increase as an amended building permit via a BPN Application/Amendment of Building Permit Form.

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.

When levy payment options become available through BAMS, will there be an option to hold an account with the VBA?

From 1 July 2019, payment methods will include credit card and BPAY. Additional payment methods, such as holding an account with the VBA, are currently being explored.

Who is authorised to pay the building permit levy?

The nominated levy payer can be any of the following persons:

  • Applicant
  • Person paying on behalf of the applicant; or
  • Registered building surveyor.

Can building permit number applications and other data be amended and updated?

Yes. BPN applications can be updated before they are submitted to the VBA. Applications can also be amended once a BPN has been issued.

Once BAMS is introduced, will building surveyors still need to submit a monthly levy return?

Building surveyors will need to submit their levy return for June 2019 on or before 7 July 2019. After 7 July, the existing levy return requirement will change.

Will the data from an application be available to view once it has been submitted?

Yes. Once an application has been successfully uploaded, its data can be viewed in the BAMS portal.