Technical and Regulation Building FAQs

The amendments to Section 169D of the Building Act 1993 introduce significant changes aimed at aligning the Victorian building industry more closely with the National Registration Framework and enhancing regulatory clarity and compliance. Here's a breakdown of what these changes entail and their implications for the industry:

Renaming of Registration Categories:

The amendments update the titles of two existing building practitioner categories to "building designer" and "project manager." This change is to synchronize with the renamed registration category titles introduced by the Building Legislation Amendment Act (BLAA). The alignment with the National Registration Framework titles aims to standardize the terminology across jurisdictions, facilitating mutual recognition and mobility of practitioners.

Broadening of Offences for Unauthorized Work:

The BLAA expands the scope of existing offences that limit certain scopes of work to individuals who are duly authorized through appropriate registration. Previously, the Building Act mandated registration for specific practitioner roles (such as building surveyors and inspectors) to undertake work legally. The new amendments introduce a more encompassing provision, stipulating that one must not perform 'work prescribed for a particular category or class' without the requisite registration in that category or class.

Impact on Regulatory Compliance:

By broadening the offence provisions, the amendments aim to enhance regulatory compliance, ensuring that only qualified and registered practitioners undertake specified work. This approach addresses the need for a more generalized offence provision, preventing unauthorized practice across all categories of building work.

Removal and Restructuring of Existing Offence Provisions:

The changes remove the Building Act's specific offence provisions for work done as building surveyors and inspectors. To maintain the restriction of certain activities to registered individuals in these categories, the draft amendment regulations prescribe tasks exclusively for registered building surveyors and inspectors. Essentially, this restructuring transfers the details from the Act to the Regulations without altering the practical requirements or scope of work for these roles.

Regulatory Clarity and Enforcement:

This restructuring and broadening of offences are intended to clarify the regulatory framework, making it easier for practitioners to understand their obligations and for regulators to enforce compliance. By clearly defining the types of work that require registration, the industry benefits from enhanced professionalism, safety, and quality assurance.

Future Regulations:

The amendments necessitate the development of regulations to specify the types of work that must be performed by individuals registered in particular categories or classes, further detailing the operational impact of these changes.

In summary, the amendments to Section 169D and related provisions of the Building Act 1993 represent a significant overhaul aimed at improving regulatory consistency, compliance, and professional standards within the Victorian building industry.

In Victoria, new constructions must comply with specific energy efficiency requirements as outlined in the National Construction Code (NCC). These requirements aim to reduce energy consumption, peak demand, greenhouse gas emissions, and improve occupant health and amenity.

For Class 1 buildings, compliance with the NCC 2022 Volume Two energy efficiency provisions is achieved by satisfying the Governing Requirements and performance requirements. The relevant performance requirements are:

  1. H6P1 - Thermal performance
  2. H6P2 - Energy usage

These requirements can be satisfied through a Deemed-to-Satisfy (DtS) solution​​.

For Class 2 (common areas) and Class 3 to 9 buildings, the energy efficiency requirements are set out in Part J1 of the NCC 2022. Compliance with the NCC 2022 Volume One for these classes is achieved by satisfying the performance requirements under Part J. Additionally, compliance with Part J6 is required for air conditioning and ventilation, and Part J7 for artificial lighting and power. The Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) Compliance Pathway is also utilized, where NatHERS accredited software assesses the energy efficiency of a dwelling by determining the building envelope’s thermal performance through a star rating and compliance with heating, cooling, and total thermal load limits, as well as a rating of energy usage by building services​​.

A building permit application is assessed by the RBS based on compliance with the Building Act, Building Regulations, and the NCC. The assessment involves reviewing the plans, calculations, and other documents to ensure all building work will be safe, accessible, and energy efficient. The RBS may request additional information or modifications before granting the permit.

Non-compliance can lead to several consequences, including fines, enforcement actions by the VBA or local councils, and orders to rectify the non-compliant work. Significant breaches might result in legal proceedings or impact the building practitioner's registration.

Waterproofing requirements, as per part 10 of the ABCB Housing provisions from the 2022 NCC, includes specific standards for materials and application methods to prevent water damage.

This clause specifies that unenclosed showers must have waterproofing extending 1.5 meters from the shower rose connection. A waterstop must also be installed at a minimum horizontal distance of 1500 mm from the shower rose. Additionally, according to Part 10.2.12, if a floor waste is installed, the floor plane must have a minimum continuous fall to the waste of 1:80.

For the NCC 2022, the requirements for access for people with disabilities are addressed under Volume One, specifically in Clause D3.2. This clause provides deemed-to-satisfy provisions for door access and other building access requirements to ensure equitable use by people with disabilities. Clause D3.2 also refers to AS 1428.1 – 2009, "Design for access and mobility," as an acceptable construction manual for achieving compliance with the NCC. This standard includes specifications for accessible paths of travel, doorways, sanitary facilities, and signage, among other accessibility considerations​​.

It's important to note that while AS 1428.1 – 2009 provides detailed guidelines, Clause D3.2 in the NCC is the primary reference for compliance with the Disability (Access to Premises – Buildings) Standards 2010, as integrated into the NCC.

A Performance Solution, an alternative to a DTS Solution, can be used when it can be demonstrated that it still meets the relevant performance requirements of the NCC. This approach allows for innovation and flexibility in building design and materials, provided that the safety, health, and amenity standards are not compromised.

The NCC, enforced through the Building Act and Regulations, includes energy efficiency requirements (Part 6 of the Building Regulations 2018). State policies like the Victorian Climate Change Act 2017 also guide sustainable construction practices.

Heritage-listed properties in Victoria are subject to additional regulations to preserve their historical significance. Any alterations, extensions, or demolitions often require approval from Heritage Victoria or the local council's heritage department. These buildings must comply with specific guidelines that respect their heritage value.

In the National Construction Code (NCC), specific clauses address the construction standards required for buildings in bushfire-prone areas to enhance fire resistance. These include the use of non-combustible materials, design considerations for reducing fire spread, and incorporating fire protection measures.

  1. For Class 1 buildings and Class 10a buildings or decks associated with a Class 1 building located in designated bushfire-prone areas, the compliance is achieved if constructed in accordance with AS 3959 - "Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas" or NASH Standard – "Steel Framed Construction in Bushfire Areas." For example, AS 3959 specifies that roof ventilation openings in bushfire-prone areas, such as gable and roof vents, shall be fitted with ember guards made of non-combustible material or a mesh or perforated sheet that conforms with clause 3.6 of AS 3959, made of corrosion-resistant steel, bronze, or aluminium​​.
  2. For external walls in a Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) 40 area, the requirements are outlined in Volume Two of the NCC. Clause sets deemed to satisfy provisions applicable to construction in bushfire-prone areas. This clause calls up AS 3959 as an acceptable construction manual to achieve compliance with the NCC​​.

These clauses and standards are crucial for ensuring the safety and integrity of buildings in bushfire-prone areas in Victoria.

The construction of balconies and decks must comply with specific clauses within the National Construction Code (NCC) Volume Two, which outlines detailed structural design requirements. Key clauses relevant to balcony and deck construction are:

  1. Clause regarding Barriers to Prevent Falls: Under Volume 2 of the NCC, it is stated that a continuous barrier must be provided along the side of a trafficable surface such as a balcony, deck, verandah, or similar areas. Specifically, if there is a possibility of falling 1 meter or more from the level of the trafficable surface to the surface beneath, a barrier is required​​.
  2. Clause 3.3.3 of the ABCB Housing Provisions Standard 2022: This clause, called up under Volume Two of the NCC 2022, deals with surface water drainage requirements beneath decks. It ensures that water does not enter the dwelling and instead drains through the deck effectively. Additionally, if the construction involves timber, compliance with Part 3.4 of the ABCB Housing Provisions Standard 2022 is required for termite protection​​.

These clauses help ensure the safety, structural integrity, and longevity of balconies and decks, particularly in relation to preventing falls and managing water drainage.

Protection work involves measures to protect an adjoining property from damage due to building work. It is performed on the building site or the adjoining property. Building work is the primary construction work that necessitates the protection work and can only occur within the property’s boundaries​​.

The RBS must determine the need for protection work, document their determination, review and assess protection work notices, create records, lodge documents with the council, participate in appeals, monitor protection work, and act independently to assist both owners through the process​.

Access to an adjoining property for building work is not considered protection work and must be arranged by agreement with the adjoining property's owner​​.

Building work that involves demolition or construction on boundaries may require new fences. The removal and replacement of boundary fences fall under the Fences Act 1968, not as protection work

Before commencing building work, it's essential to consider any planning controls applicable to the allotment. Part 5 of the Building Regulations 2018 contains requirements for siting matters that apply to the construction of single Class 1 buildings, Class 10a buildings (like sheds), and Class 10b structures (like fences). These requirements are equivalent to those under Victoria Planning Schemes and clause 54 of the Victorian Planning Provisions (VPP).

Regulation 79 specifies guidelines for side and rear setbacks. It establishes an envelope that commences at a 1-meter setback from the boundary, allowing a maximum building height of 3.6 meters at that point​​.

Under the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995, certain types of work, including glazing, are not considered building work if the contract is solely for that type of work, regardless of the contract value​​.

The panel should be centrally located, accessible at all times, and comply with AS/NZS 3000. It must have a mains power supply with a 12-hour battery backup, terminals for smoke alarm and sprinkler system signals, indicators for alarm zones, faults, and mains power failure, and the capacity for heat detectors​​.

The system must comply with the BCA and AS 2118.4, and be connected to a monitoring service via a sprinkler alarm switch in accordance with AS 4428.6 and AS1670.1 clause 3.18.3. The alarm signalling equipment must be in a secure, accessible, and weatherproof location​​.

Incorrectly installed service penetrations can create weak points in fire-rated or smoke-proof walls, allowing fire and smoke to spread. It is vital that these penetrations are installed correctly to maintain the integrity of the wall. Mandatory inspections by the RBS are required for such installations​​.

The VBA Technical and Regulation team provides general advice regarding the Building Act 1993, Building Regulations 2018, the National Construction Code (NCC) and Australian Standards. They cannot offer site-specific advice or make compliance determinations.

You can contact the VBA Technical and Regulation Team on 1300 815 127, or by emailing our Building or Plumbing Technical and Regulation teams.

For building defects or issues, contact Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria (DBDRV).

Any proposed building work must have a building permit prior to construction, unless exempted.

Practice Note BP-01: Building permits and other exemptions | When is a building permit required (PDF, 257.3 KB) provides more information about when a building permit is required.

Schedule 3 of Building Regulations 2018 specifies the building work and buildings exempt from building permit requirements. It is important to refer to the schedule to fully understand the provisions relating to the exemption. While some building work is exempt, the proposed building work may still be required to comply with the National Construction Code (NCC).

All building practitioners must determine if the proposed building work falls within one of the exemptions.

Practice Note BP-01: Building permits and other exemptions | When is a building permit required (PDF, 257.3 KB) provides examples of building work that are exempted from the requirements of obtaining a building permit.

Buildings are classified according to their intended use, as outlined in Part A6 of the National Construction Code (NCC). For example, a townhouse is classified as Class 1a.

Learn more about building classes by visiting the VBA website.

Protection work is the work undertaken to protect an adjoining property from the risk of significant damage caused by the building work. It can be done on an adjoining property or on the property where the building work is occurring, or both. Where protection work needs to be done on the adjoining property, section 95 of the Building Act 1993 allows for access to the adjoining property to undertake the required protection work.

When making an application for a building permit for the proposed building work, the applicant (the building owner or agent of owner) is required to provide detailed information about the building work to the relevant building surveyor. The building surveyor will then determine if protection work is required.

Learn more about protection work by visiting the VBA website and by reading Practice Note PW-02: Protection Work Process (PDF, 231.71 KB).

The purpose of regulation 84 is to protect existing habitable room windows and secluded private open space (SPOS) on an adjoining allotment from overlooking.

Part 5 of the Regulations contains requirements for siting matters that apply to the construction of single Class 1 buildings, Class 10a buildings (e.g. sheds) and Class 10b structures (e.g. fences).

If non-compliance or uncertainties arise with overlooking or siting issues, consultation with a building surveyor is advised.

Practice Note 47 - Part 5 of the Building Regulations 2018 (PDF, 1118.05 KB) details regulations regarding overlooking and the siting of buildings.

Owner-builders must be named as the builder on the building permit and obtain a certificate of consent from the VBA for domestic building work valued over $16,000.

Learn more about owner-builders and the application process by visiting the VBA website.

The Domestic Builder (limited to carpentry) registration class is limited to carpentry work for homes and associated Class 10 structures. It involves the construction, alteration, renovation and repair of homes, carports, garages, pergolas, decks, verandas and similar structures.

This work includes all activities included within the following classes of Domestic Builder work:

  • construction of non-habitable building structures
  • construction of gates and fences
  • bathroom, kitchen or laundry renovations
  • framing
  • external wall cladding
  • door and window replacement and installation
  • cabinet making, joinery and stair construction
  • attaching an external fixture.

Learn more about the Domestic Builder (limited to carpentry) registration class and other Domestic Builder classes by visiting the VBA website.

An Occupancy Permit is required if specified by the building permit.

If a building permit states an Occupancy Permit is required for the whole or part of a building, a person must not occupy that building unless the Occupancy Permit has been issued in accordance with Part 5 of the Building Act 1993. For alterations with an existing permit, a Certificate of Final Inspection is required.

Practice Note BP-09: Issuing of an Occupancy Permit (PDF, 175.33 KB) provides more information on Occupancy Permits.

Yes, registered building designers in the architectural, interior and services categories are mandated to hold professional indemnity insurance.

Learn more about building insurance requirements by visiting the VBA website.

It is mandatory for owners of land where a swimming pool or spa is located to register their pool or spa with the relevant council.

Owners are also required to have their safety barriers inspected and to lodge a certificate of barrier compliance with their council. If a safety barrier is not compliant, it is the owner’s responsibility to make the barrier compliant.

These laws apply to swimming pools and spas that are capable of holding more than 300 mm (30 cm) of water. This includes permanent pools, above ground pools, indoor pools, hot tubs, bathing or wading pools, and some relocatable pools.

Relocatable pools that do not consist of multiple components and do not require any assembly are not subject to the barrier requirements. An example of such a product is a small inflatable pool that requires no assembly other than inflation.

Learn more about pool and spa inspections and compliance by visiting the VBA website.