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

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

  • Prevalence of non-compliant issues observed on building sites were very similar across all regions of Victoria. This trend is different from the previous three quarters where Growth Corridors had lower prevalence of non-compliant issues compared to other regions of Victoria.

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 than buildings managed by High Volume builders, a trend which has been consistent over the past three 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

  • Prevalence of non-compliant issues observed during plumbing inspections were very similar across all regions of Victoria. This trend is different from the previous quarter where Growth Corridors had higher prevalence of non-compliant issues compared to other regions of Victoria.

Plumbing - New Builds vs Alterations

  • Percentage of plumbing inspections with compliance risks are much higher in Alterations (59%) compared to constructions of New buildings (31%). This trend is consistent with the previous three quarters.

Plumbing - High Volume builders vs Other builders

  • Percentage of inspections with compliance risks marginally lower in sites managed by Large Volume builders compared to Other builders in domestic sites.
  • Large Volume builders were underrepresented in commercial plumbing this quarter.

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

In Class 1 and 10 Buildings

Overview

The Proactive Inspection Program (PIP) consistently identifies excessive notching, trenching and holes in studs, plates and in structural timber frame members, which undermines the structural integrity of dwellings.


AS 1684.2-2010 and manufactured engineered wood products (EWPs) allow for cuts, holes and notches only in specific applications. The relevant manufacture’s installation manual and AS 1684.2-2010 provide the detail regarding maximum hole diameter, cuts and notches allowed.

Response

The VBA will notify both the builder and RBS of any excessive notching, trenching and holes in structural timber framing members and will require the issues to be rectified.  
The builder must seek clarification on the suitability of rectification work from the RBS prior to work being carried out.  In some circumstances the RBS may require a structural engineer or manufacturer of the relevant EWPs to propose a rectification solution to be approved and inspected by the RBS.

Outcome

The VBA will only close these matters once they have received confirmation the rectification work has been inspected and approved by the RBS.


To reduce these issues from reoccurring, the targeted education of trades is required, especially electricians and plumbers. Improved planning at the design stage will assist in negating some of these issues arising. For example, a wall brace unit could be moved from an internal bathroom wall to facilitate the installation of a vent pipe.

Multiple Issues

This case study highlights how important it is for the VBA to inspect building work under construction, where significant failures can be addressed earlier, and where rectification is often easier therefore avoiding safety, health and amenity impacts on future owners.

Overview

A proactive inspection of a five-unit class 1 development, in Greater Melbourne, observed several issues which included:

  • Exposed vital steel reinforcement in multiple areas from cutting and jackhammering the concrete slab.
  • Insufficient subfloor ventilation that was not in accordance with Part 3.4.1 of the NCC Vol 2 -2019.
  • Installation of the fire rated separating wall between units 1 & 2 (Knauf 25mm Shaftliner) that was not strictly installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s tested system installation requirements:
    • The minimum gap clearance of 20-40mm between shaft Liner and stud walls were not met.
      There were penetrations into the Shaftliner.
    • L Clips to were installed midway of stud walls.

Additionally, mould was apparent on the Shaftliner between both units; not in accordance with the objectives of the Performance Provisions Part 2.2 Damp and Weatherproofing of NCC Vol 2 2019.

Response

A VBA notification of medium-risk building activity was sent to the RBS and the builder prompting them to rectify the issues and obtain supporting documentation demonstrating compliance.

Outcome

The VBA closed the matter after receiving photographic evidence of the rectification works and an engineering report certifying the rectification work on the concrete slab.

Plumbing

In multi-level apartment buildings with basement car park

Overview

Non-compliant construction (to building lines), of sewer drainage surge, and overflow protection in ground floor fixtures, are commonly observed in multi-level apartments developments (with little free open garden area).

Response

Compliance to meet sewer drainage surge and overflow protection standards is sought by the VBA in all instances to prevent the services failing and impacting the amenity of the building for its occupants.
The VBA will send a medium risk notification to the builder directing the builder to provide the details of the responsible plumber, and to ensure the plumber rectifies the non-compliant plumbing work.

Outcome

The VBA will require proof of rectification and often requires documentation from the relevant engineer certifying the compliance of the sewer drainage surge and overflow protection before they close such matters.

Compliance to sewer drainage blockage or surging resulting from downstream sewerage systems is generally achieved through the installation of a ‘reflux valve’ assembly at the point of discharge for the property however, in some cases, the surge protection by means of a reflux valve is installed non compliantly and/or overflow protection within the property to protect the ground floor fixtures is not being achieved.

In Class 2 buildings

Overview

Insufficient separation of services is consistently observed during proactive inspections of Class 2 buildings due to the limited space in common areas to run services through and multiple trades being involved in their installation at various stages of the construction.

The services most commonly without enough clearance from each other are electrical, gas and water services and, to a lesser extent, sanitary drains and HVAC.

Response

Compliance to meet the separation standards is sought by the VBA in all instances to prevent services failing and impacting the amenity of the building for its occupants.

The VBA will send a medium risk notification to the builder which directs the builder to provide the details of the responsible plumber, and to ensure the plumber rectifies the non-compliant plumbing work.

Outcome

The VBA will ensure the services are reinstalled to meet the appropriate separation requirements between services.  Building practitioners are also encouraged to consult with the affected trades prior to installation of their services to ensure that the services are installed to their correct compliant location to achieve separation.