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 1,000 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 (PDF, 16152.68 KB)

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 were similar across all regions of Victoria.
  • This trend was mostly consistent across the year except in Q2 where issues observed on building sites in Growth Corridors were 6 to 9 per cent lower than the other regions.

Building - New Builds vs Alterations

  • The percentage of inspections with compliance risks are much higher in constructions of New buildings (58%) than buildings undergoing Alterations (42%), in domestic building sites, a trend which has been consistent over the past three quarters.
  • A different trend was observed in commercial building sites. Buildings undergoing Alterations had the highest prevalence of non-compliant issues (50%) compared to New builds (30%), a trend which has been consistent over the past three quarters.

Building - High Volume builders vs Other builders

  • The percentage of inspections with compliance risks are higher in sites managed by Other builders (58%) than buildings managed by High Volume builders (43%). This trend was consistent across all four quarters.

Common problem overview - building

The most prevalent categories where non-compliance risks are observed (medium and high risk).

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 plumbing inspections with compliance risks were similar across all regions of Victoria. This trend was mostly consistent across all four quarters except for Q1 where issues observed on building sites in Growth Corridors was 41% compared to Greater Melbourne that was 26%.

Plumbing - New Builds vs Alterations

  • The percentage of plumbing inspections with compliance risks are higher in the construction of ‘New’ buildings compared to buildings going under ‘Alterations’ for both domestic and commercial sites. This trend was mostly consistent across all four quarters.

Plumbing - High Volume builders vs Other builders

  • The percentage of plumbing inspections with compliance risks were similar across all types of builders. This trend was consistent across all four quarters.

Common problem overview - plumbing

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

Non-compliant siting elements such as overlooking on to secluded private open space, side and rear setbacks and daylight to habitable room windows, comprised 1.9 per cent of issues observed in the Proactive Inspections Program (PIP) for the 2021-22 financial year.

One hundred and forty three (143) sites were found to have a compliance risk with the Siting requirements under Part 5 of the Building Regulation 2018 with ‘Walls and Carports on boundaries’ and ‘Overlooking’ the most prevalent issues.

Siting issues can be difficult and costly to correct once building work is completed and early identification through PIP avoids impacting the amenity of adjoining owners and future occupants.

Examples of siting issues corrected due to a Proactive Inspections:

Overlooking
A proactive inspection of a double storey dwelling in Greater Melbourne, found the kitchen window was overlooking on to adjoining neighbours secluded private open space and directly into habitable room windows.
The VBA contacted the RBS who reported that the nominated adjoining property’s fence height, (2.45m on the plan), was not consistent with the actual height of the fence and that he will ensure suitable measures to prevent overlooking will be enforced.  The VBA closed these matters after receiving confirmation the existing fence will be replaced by a 2.45m fence, to comply with the siting requirements.

Daylight to habitable room windowsA proactive inspection of a single storey dwelling in Greater Melbourne, found that daylight to habitable room windows had not been achieved along the side of the dwelling where the eave, fascia and gutter reduced the clear to sky dimension to less than 1m. The VBA contacted the RBS who reported the eaves were not constructed in accordance with the plans which did not have the eaves overhanging the windows.  The VBA closed the matter after receiving photographic evidence the eaves were removed above the windows.

Overview

Fire separation issues between domestic dwellings are consistently observed during proactive inspections, particularly dual occupancy buildings; 13% of fire separation items inspected were non-compliant in FY2021-22 and in dual occupancy buildings the prevalence increases to 41 per cent.

Three hundred and ninety seven (397) sites were found to be non-compliant with P2.3.1 (Spread of fire requirements) and the majority (approximately 74 per cent) were due to poorly constructed fire separating wall. Other common problems included, close proximity of openable windows and decks to property boundaries that were not fire rated, separating masonry walls that were short in length and/or not constructed high enough to meet the required gap of less than 200mm to the underside of roof cladding, and expanded polystyrene (EPS) used on the boundary walls.

Examples of fire separation issues corrected due to a proactive inspection

EPS cladding on the property boundaries and height of brickwork

A proacti\ve inspection of a new single-storey dwelling in Greater Melbourne found timber/EPS cladding on the property boundaries that were not protected with fire resisting material. Additionally, the brick veneer fire resisting walls, constructed within 900mm of the property boundaries, terminated 300mm from the underside of the non-combustible roof covering; Part 3.7.2 of BCA (Volume 2) requires a gap of no more than 200 mm. The photos relate to the garage wall and rear wall of the dwelling.The VBA contacted the RBS and

builder to rectify the issue and the VBA closed the matter upon receiving photographic evidence of additional brick work, (to raise its height and reduce the gap between the capping and gutter to less than 200mm), and fire resistant material added.

Window proximity

A proactive inspection of a multi-unit development in Greater Melbourne, observed windows located within 1.8m of another building on the same allotment without being protected in accordance with Part 3.7.2.4 of BCA (Volume 2).

The VBA contacted the RBS and builder to rectify the issue and the VBA closed the matter upon receiving the RBS approved revised design of the dwelling.

Plumbing

Overview

VBA expanded its Proactive Inspections Program’s regional reach in 2022, visiting Bendigo, Traralgon and Bairnsdale. The VBA was pleased to observe plumbing work that was consistently of a high standard:

  • Compliant materials used at termination/entrance points of dwellings for gas and water.
  • Installation of roof cladding - was square, straight and built to prevent prevailing wind effects and used compliant fixings of cladding and flashings.
  • Roof cladding and gutters were left clean (without debris) on completion.
  • Penetrations in roof cladding were straight, square and sealed using appropriately sized flashings, compliant fixing of flashings and with minimal overuse sealants.
  • Tidy work sites at various stages of construction.

Response

While the focus of the Proactive Inspections Program is to identify non-compliant plumbing work under construction and ensure it is rectified, the VBA also uses the opportunity, where it is warranted, to praise practitioners for their diligence in delivering high standards of work to a compliant standard.

Overview

The VBA's observation of what isn't being done well includes:

  • Insufficient separation of services, multi layer gas piping installations exposed to UV lights and missing reversion fittings, are consistently observed during proactive inspections of Class 1a buildings.
  • Insufficient separation of services is often caused by other trades such as electricians. The VBA urges building practitioners to ensure the responsible trades are aware of the requirements to achieve separation.
  • UV exposure to multi layer piping is not taken as a serious threat to the material by practitioners who are not taking precautions to cover piping during construction. Proposed changes to Standard AS/NZS 5601.1 will prohibit multi-layer piping from being installed externally in all cases.
  • A common response from practitioners about using reversion fittings is that its purpose is not well understood leading to its omission in plumbing work. Practitioner education is required to better educate practitioners on what the intention of the provision of a reversion fitting is for.

VBA's Response The VBA sends a notification to the builder about these issues, directing the builder to provide the details of the responsible plumber and to ensure the plumber rectifies the non-compliant plumbing work.

The VBA will also consider future awareness and education opportunities for relevant practitioners to improve compliance outcomes.