A building notice is the first step in the enforcement process. Your Building Surveyor will issue a written notice requesting the owner to ‘show cause’ why certain actions should not be carried out. For example, where your Building Surveyor considers a neighbouring property may be at risk, a building notice may be issued to show cause why protection work should not be carried out. The owner can then respond by complying with the notice or show cause why the suggested work should not be carried out.
A building order for minor work may be issued by a building surveyor without first issuing a building notice. For example, a minor work order may be issued instructing the builder to replace some faulty materials, fill gaps in a tiled area or fix a door on a wardrobe.
It is possible to appeal against the issuing of a building notice or building order. Appeals are made to the Building Appeals Board and you can appear before the Board to present your case. The decision of the Building Appeals Board is final and binding.
Where an owner fails to comply with a building order issued by a private building surveyor, the matter must be referred to the Victorian Building Authority within 14 days. The owner may then be subject to prosecution.
Where an owner fails to comply with a building order issued by a municipal building surveyor, the municipal building surveyor is empowered to initiate the prosecution. This means that the matter does not have to be referred to the Victorian Building Authority.
A Municipal Building Surveyor also has the power to intervene on any project in the municipality, even if a private Building Surveyor is appointed for that project. This may happen where, for example, the municipal building surveyor is advised of a serious breach of the regulations on a project.
Where a builder refuses to fix defective work, the Victorian Building Authority may refer the builder to the Building Practitioners Board for disciplinary action.
Domestic Building Disputes Resolution Victoria (DBDRV) is a service established by the Victorian Government to provide free advice and assistance to resolve domestic building disputes. The service is a joint initiative of the Victorian Building Authority and Consumer Affairs Victoria.
DBDRV provides individual advice, conciliation and technical inspections of building work with a view to preventing or resolving disputes between homeowners and domestic builders.
If you have any concerns about your building project, it is a good idea to contact DBDRV earlier rather than later, as issues are simpler to resolve before they are compounded by further work.
Please refer to the Building Disputes section of Councils website for further information.
If you believe that some of the building work on your project is defective, you can apply to the Victorian Building Authority for an independent inspection.
An inspector will come and have a look at the project and prepare a written report for the builder making recommendations for any corrective action. The inspector cannot direct the builder to rectify any work on the project but if the builder fails to follow the recommendations, he or she may be referred to the Building Practitioners Board for disciplinary action. The owner can also initiate a hearing at the Building Practitioners Board.
Applications for an inspection need to be made on a form available from the Victorian Building Authority. There is a fee for the service and there may be additional expenses if specialist investigations are required.
Building practitioners include registered and unregistered builders, private and municipal building surveyors, demolition contractors and some other specialist contractors.
Anyone involved in a building project can make a complaint to the Building Practitioners Board or the Victorian Building Authority about the conduct of a building practitioner. The Board and the Victorian Building Authority take all complaints seriously. The Board or Victorian Building Authority will assess your complaint and determine if a formal investigation is necessary. Sometimes the complaint will be referred to another government body. This is because different government departments are responsible for different types of issues. The Board or Victorian Building Authority will let you know if it is referring your complaint elsewhere.
To make a complaint about a registered practitioner’s professional conduct, you must write to the Building Practitioners Board and/or the Victorian Building Authority setting out the reasons for your complaint.
There is also an avenue of appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). It is recommended that you first attempt to resolve issues through Domestic Building Disputes Resolution Victoria (DBDRV), as this has been specifically established to provide quick and easy access to dispute resolution services.
The dispute can be heard by the Domestic Building List at VCAT, which will try to resolve the dispute and can order that defective work be rectified, terms of a contract are varied, or that compensation is paid.
Where disputes are for sums of less than $10,000, they will be heard through the Civil Claims List at VCAT. There is an application fee and application forms can be obtained from VCAT.
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