BAMS brings greater accountability, new obligations

When Victoria’s Building Activity Management System launched on 1 July 2019, the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) was quietly confident that industry would make the transition with ease.

On day one, 150 building permit number (BPN) applications were received via the new system. Almost five weeks later, at the end of July, that figure stood at 9218 BPN applications, representing an estimated $3.2 billion in cost of works. At the same time, $3.7 million in building permit levy had been paid – off the back of $4 million owed.

The Building Activity Management System – or BAMS – was designed and developed by the VBA as part of the Victorian Government’s three-year building industry reforms program. The online platform is a major piece of reform work, which has streamlined the building permit process and made building surveyors more accountable for the information they provide.

From the outset, BAMS was designed with efficiency in mind. The platform accepts BPN applications, processes levy payments, issues BPNs and accepts amendments to building permit records. It also reduces the regulatory burden on building surveyors, who are no longer required to submit monthly levy returns to the VBA.

For their part, building surveyors must now apply for, and receive, a BPN from the VBA before they can issue a building permit. The reform requires building surveyors to provide the VBA with specific building permit information upon application and ensure the permit levy is paid upfront – either by themselves or their client.

Broader reforms to Victoria’s building permit and levy system now require permit applicants to monitor the cost of their building work and notify the VBA of the final cost of that work within 28 days of completion. The reporting obligation has a direct bearing on the amount of permit levy the VBA is entitled to collect, with building work costing at least $15,625 more than its initial estimate attracting additional levy.

All of this change has made the VBA a more efficient and more effective regulator. Analysis of real-time BAMS data on existing and future building work means the VBA has far greater oversight of when and where building work is – and will be – taking place. And requirements for applicants to pay the building permit levy upfront means the VBA can be certain it is collecting the full amount of levy due. These factors alone have enhanced the VBA’s ability to monitor building work across Victoria.

Delivering BAMS is a major achievement, bringing greater accountability and new obligations – for industry, for applicants and for the VBA.

Read more about BAMS and the 2019 building industry reforms on the VBA website.