Directions to Fix notifications

Relevant building surveyors (RBS) are required by legislation to issue a Direction to Fix (DTF) building work to the builder if, after inspection, they reasonably believe that the building work fails to comply with the Building Act 1993 (the Act), the Building Regulations 2018 (the Regulations) or the building permit.

As the RBS, you must issue the relevant written direction in the approved form and specify the date for compliance to be achieved. On request, you may grant an extension to the date. You may stay or revoke a direction to fix under certain circumstances. The direction should clearly explain the building work to be rectified so that there is no ambiguity or confusion.

The approved form is subject to updates by the VBA, so please ensure you are using the correct version. Download the current approved form.

When a DTF notification is received by the VBA, we first assess its enforceability. The legislation regarding DTFs features specific requirements and if those requirements are not met, we may not be able to support the enforcement action with a disciplinary response.

When we are unable to take further action on the notification, we will write to you explaining why the notification is not enforceable. This information is intended to clarify the legislative requirements and to assist surveyors when issuing future enforcement notices to owners and builders. You will have the option to discuss an unenforceable DTF with a VBA Senior Technical Advisor if you have any questions.

Direction to Fix Notification – s37K of the Act

According to s37K(2) of the Act, the RBS must refer a written DTF to the VBA if the builder fails to comply with the DTF. You need to notify us within seven days after the final date for compliance specified in the direction.

After we have been notified of the DTF, you are still responsible for ensuring compliance is achieved. You should consider further enforcement action, such as a building notice or building order.

Written notice to the VBA

If you are referring a DTF notification to the VBA, you should include the following information to help us assess whether it is enforceable and therefore can proceed to investigation for potential prosecution or disciplinary action:

  • confirmation that the time frame given for compliance on the DTF has lapsed and the referral is within the 7-day time frame
  • details of how the DTF was served
  • confirmation that no occupancy permit or certificate of final inspection has been issued. If additional building work is required, confirmation that there is a valid building permit for the work
  • an explanation of how you are aware that the DTF has not been complied with
  • clarification on whether the DTF has been progressed to a building notice or building order
  • if there is a life-safety concern, confirmation that the Municipal Building Surveyor at the relevant council has been made aware.

The following documentation needs to provided with the notification:

  • copy of the DTF
  • copy of the building permit
  • method and proof of service, e.g. email, registered posted, personal service
  • copy of building notice or building order (if applicable)
  • copy of reference documents (if applicable).

Please forward the notification in writing with the above information/documentation to referrals@vba.vic.gov.au. Include ‘Direction to Fix notification’ in the subject line of the email.

For help when writing a Direction to Fix notification to the VBA, please refer to the template letter: Draft notification letter template – Directions to Fix.

What happens next

Once all the correct information is received, the DTF will be assessed. During the assessment, we will consider the applicable legislation, regulations and the specific requirements that make a notification compliant.

The assessment will result in one of the below outcomes:

  • The DTF is assessed as compliant with the Act and Regulations – we may take appropriate action according to the Act. This may include disciplinary action and/or prosecution (the maximum penalty for failure to comply with a written DTF is 500 penalty units).
    If there is any change of circumstances regarding the site or the building work to which the DTF relates, please notify the VBA, so we can take those matters into consideration.
  • The DTF is assessed as non-compliant with the Act and Regulations – the VBA is unable to take further action and we can’t consider proceeding with a disciplinary response to support the enforcement action. The VBA will send an educational letter to you providing feedback, with a recommendation to cancel the DTF and to recommence the process to resolve the situation or progress the matter to building notice or building order.

Life safety

If you are concerned that there is a possible life safety matter (e.g. relating to a swimming pool, swimming pool barrier, balcony, balustrade, egress issue, deficient smoke alarm/detector, inadequately secured building element), you should progress the enforcement action and advise the Municipal Building Surveyor at council of the concern.

Compliance of building work after the referral of a DTF

If the builder has complied with the DTF after the VBA has been notified, please advise us and the property owner of the compliance with the DTF.

For more information

Refer to Practice notes and resources for further information and documentation, including approved forms.