Proactive Inspections Program (PIP) Quarterly reports

The VBA’s Proactive Inspections Program helps ensure the safety of Victoria’s construction industry.

We have a team of expert building and plumbing inspectors that typically look at more than 900 sites each month. This work means we can identify potential faults earlier, when they are easier to fix, and that the burden of fixing them sits with the builder rather than the owner.

PIP also provides a level playing field for all builders and plumbers who produce high-quality work.

It’s all part of our goal to empower and educate both practitioners and consumers, supporting a robust and high-quality construction sector.

You can learn more about this program, and the issues most commonly found, in our latest quarterly report.

View the latest report

Scroll down for key data and insights from our latest inspections. Tap or hover over the graphics for details.

Where we are

Number of inspections

We’re more visible than ever, visiting more worksites and keeping Victorians safe. The Victorian Government expects us to inspect 10 per cent of new building permits received each year.

Discrepancies between projected and completed inspections may occur depending on unforeseen industry activity and resource allocation (eg COVID restrictions).

Inspection locations

Our inspectors are working right across the state, creating a safer Victoria.

When selecting sites for inspection, we use building permit data and consider a range of risk factors. We sometimes target certain types of construction to manage risk and to ensure intervention at the earliest possible stage.

What we’re looking for

We inspect sites to keep workers and future occupiers safe. Here’s how we determine the seriousness of compliance risks.

  • Low risk (pass): Compliance risk not identified; any compliance risk likely to be resolved as work continues.
  • Low risk (low impact compliance risk): Unlikely that compliance risk left untreated would adversely impact safety, amenity, structural integrity.
  • Medium risk: Possible that compliance risk left untreated would cause an adverse impact on safety, amenity, structural integrity.
  • High risk: Almost certain that compliance risk, if left untreated, would cause an adverse impact on safety and amenity. Structural integrity would be significantly compromised and/or total loss of project value would be incurred.

See our full compliance risk rating matrix.

What we find

We discover a range of problems – from minor issues through to serious breaches requiring immediate action.

Find out more about compliance and enforcement.

Overview of building inspections

Geographic Trends

  • The percentage of inspections with compliance risks are higher in Greater Melbourne (36%) than in Regional Victoria (31%) and Growth Corridors of Melbourne (31%).
  • A different trend was found in commercial building sites. Regional areas of Victoria have the highest (46%) prevalence of non-compliance risks observed and Greater Melbourne the lowest (28%).

Building - New Builds vs Alterations

  • The percentage of inspections with compliance risks are much higher in constructions of New buildings (34%) than buildings going under Alterations (19%).
  • The same trend was found in both domestic and commercial building sites

Building - High Volume builders vs Other builders

  • The percentage of inspections with compliance risks are higher in sites managed by Other builders (38%), than buildings managed by High Volume builders (24%).
  • The same trend was found in both domestic and commercial building sites.

Common problem overview - building

Domestic (Class 1)

The most prevalent categories where non-compliance risks are observed (excluding low risk), remain consistent each quarter.

Commercial (Class 2)

Non-compliant issues in commercial building work have also remained consistent each quarter, with the six most common categories of non-compliance identified this quarter largely the same as previous quarters.

It is important to note that the prevalence of non-compliance risks observed in timber frames is higher than other categories, as it reflects the large number of items assessed in a timber frame compared to the other categories.  Percentages, therefore should not be compared between categories due this variable.

Overview of plumbing inspections

Geographic Trends

  • The percentage of inspections with compliance risks are higher in Growth Corridors of Melbourne (31%) than Regional Victoria (18%) and Greater Melbourne (16%).
  • A different trend was found between domestic and commercial building sites where the Percentage of inspections with compliance risks were similar across Greater Melbourne and Growth Corridors of Melbourne.

Plumbing - New Builds vs Alterations

  • Percentage of plumbing inspections with compliance risks are much higher in constructions of New buildings (24%) than buildings going under Alterations (8%).
  • The same trend was found in both domestic and commercial building sites.

Plumbing - High Volume builders vs Other builders

  • Percentage of inspections with compliance risks are only slightly higher in sites managed by High Volume builders than sites managed by Other builders.
  • The same trend was found in both domestic building sites. A trend could not be established for commercial buildings because the sample size is too small.

Common problem overview - plumbing

Domestic (Class 1)

The most prevalent categories where non-compliance risks are observed (excluding low risk), remain consistent each quarter.

Commercial (Class 2)

Typically, the sample size of commercial plumbing inspections is too small to report on the most prevalent categories, however, there were 115 plumbing inspections this quarter up from 49 the previous quarter.

Prevalence of compliance risks in dual- and single-occupancy dwellings

The following percentages are based on all domestic (class 1) dwellings inspected during this time period. This graphic does not include low-risk (low impact compliance risk) data.

Taking action

We’re taking steps to ensure the safety of workers and Victorians. The VBA will intervene so that building sites with serious non-compliances aren’t issued with an occupancy permit and can’t be handed over to the purchaser.

Find out more about enforcement.

Inspection stories

Building

Overview

The proactive inspection of four double-storey townhouses under construction
observed a corner of the concrete slab edge beam (at the rear townhouse) was unsupported, and
the foundation material had been washed away.

A medium risk letter was sent to the builder and RBS requesting comment from the design engineer.

Response

After the builder provided an underpinning detail from the design engineer it became clear that a 450mm diameter 2m deep concrete pier was supposed to be located at the corner of the concrete slab.

Furthermore, the builder provided photographs of the underpinning work that had been carried out without a building permit and not in accordance with the engineer’s design as the underpins had been constructed to 1/6th of the area required.

Outcome

As a result, the building inspector was referred to investigations for approving the bored pier, pre-slab and slab steel inspection without ensuring that a bore pier was located at the corner of the concrete slab

Additionally, the builder was referred to investigations for not carrying out work in accordance with the approved plans and carrying out building work without having a building permit.

At present, the VBA is still awaiting a satisfactory approved design for the concrete pier.


Also observed on site was exposed concrete slab steel reinforcement in multiple locations and therefore not covered by the minimum 40mm of concrete as required by clause 5.3.2 of AS 2870 – 2011.
The builder provided an approved rectification detail from the design engineer and photographic evidence of rectification work undertaken.

Overview

The proactive inspection of a Class 2 building with a Class 7a basement carpark revealed multiple issues in relation to protection of openings, fire-fighting equipment and room heights:

  • plumbing penetration from the basement carpark were not protected with fire collars in accordance with C3.15 of Volume 1 of the BCA and openings in the floor and ceilings for services were not protected in accordance with C3.12.
  • the ceiling height above the stairway was less than the minimum 2m required by Clause F3.1 of Volume 1 of the BCA, and
  • the minimum workspace clearances of the ‘fire indicator panel’ did not comply with the requirements of clause 2.1.2(b) of AS 1670.4.

Response

A VBA notification of medium-risk building activity, sent to the builder and RBS, prompted the RBS to issues a Directions to Fix Building Work to the builder.

Outcome

The VBA closed the matter after receiving comprehensive photographic evidence of the rectified work.

Plumbing

Overview

The proactive inspection of a single-storey dwelling under construction identified that excavation works for the below ground drainage resulted in the backfill soil being stockpiled to a height exceeding 1.5 metres without any protection or isolation of the spoil.

This created a fall from heights risk and as the site was unsecured at the time, presented a High risk to public safety and OHS.

Response

The matter was immediately reported to WorkSafe who attended site and issued an improvement notice to the building practitioner to rectify.

Outcome

The site has subsequently been made safe as per the WorkSafe notice.


The inspection also identified multiple plumbing issues:

  • A below ground sewer drain installed
    • with insufficient grade (not in accordance with AS/NZS 3500.2:2018 Table 3.4.1 6),
    • without enough depth of cover according to AS/NZS 3500.2:2018 clause 3.7.2,
    • with inappropriate backfill material. AS/NZS 3500.2:2018 clause 5.4.4 & figure 5.4.4
    • with inappropriate bedding/side support material. AS/NZS 3500.2:2018 clause 5.4.2 & figure 5.4.4
  • Storm water drain with inappropriate fill material AS/NZS 3500.3:2018 clause 6.2.10

Overview

The proactive inspection of a single-storey dwelling under construction identified the excavation works being conducted for dwelling foundations were not safe because the pier drillings were unprotected and to a depth of 3.3 metres.

Response

The plumbing inspector sought guidance from the VBA’s building team who advised him to immediately report the issue to the relevant authorities, due the depth of the site cut.

The Inspector requested works on site to cease and immediately notified WorkSafe and the Municipal Building Surveyor (MBS) of the risk identified.

The MBS attended on the day and WorkSafe thereafter.

Outcome

The building practitioner has now complied with the WorkSafe and MBS directions to ensure the site was made safe.