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What is the Building Act?

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Learn about the Building Act 1993, the construction law applicable to all building works in Victoria. Get to know what it covers, your rights, and its benefits for both contractors and homeowners. 

Table of Contents

The Building Act and how it applies to Building disputes

The Building Act 1993 is the law that regulates and sets the standards in the residential building industry and certain specialist work in Victoria. The Act outlines the minimum statutory rights of homeowners, building practitioners, and other contractors such as plumbers. This includes standards for building and plumbing work, what to do in building inspection, warranties, insurance, and any other matters relating to construction work in Victoria.

The main concern of the Building Act is that residential building work should be done with a building permit. This makes sure that the buildings and entertainment spaces in the state are complying with safety and health as well as water standards.  

Some legislative schemes govern over Victoria building work are:

  • Building Act 1993 (VIC)
  • Building Regulations 2018 (VIC)
  • Plumbing Regulations 2018 (VIC)

How the Building Act protects Homeowners

Building work is quite a big investment for homeowners and a big opportunity for building practitioners, so the Building Act was created to give both parties some level of protection.

Homeowners are protected by this legislation because under the Building Act:

  • only building practitioners and plumbers can enter into building and plumbing contracts respectively;
  • certain contract clauses are required to be included in building contracts; 
  • national building and plumbing standards are in place;
  • cost-effective, environment-friendly, and energy-efficient construction and maintenance of buildings and plumbing systems are encouraged;
  • building works are required to have insurance; and 
  • Building practitioners and plumbers have statutory warranties that cannot be contracted out of.

Building Regulations 2018

In addition to the Building Act, a remake of its amendments were put into effect in 2018 to ensure that the home building laws reflect current practices and reduce any unnecessary red tape for the building industry. 

The changes specified in Building Regulations 2018 were meant to add more appropriate protection for building practitioners and plumbers and to require homeowners to act promptly and immediately lodge complaints when defects are discovered.

What does the Building Act regulate?

The Building Act regulates a number of matters and here are some of them:

  • Standards in construction, use, and maintenance of buildings
  • Building practitioners, plumbers, and tradespeople licences for the specific work that they do
  • Building permits
  • Building work inspection
  • The unlicensed contractors’ incapability to claim damages under a contract during a building contract dispute
  • Insurance requirements and details of what it should state and insure
  • the importance of having a building contract and permit before work for the construction projects begins
  • how to deal with defects
  • how to deal with payment issues

Building Disputes and the Building Act

A building dispute happens when one party in a contract fails or is perceived to fail in complying with their legal or contractual obligations to another party.

The Building Act covers details that can come up when a building dispute occurs.

Some common types of building disputes include:

  • A homeowner’s non-payment, underpayment, or late payment for work done by a builder or plumber or vice versa
  • Incomplete work which was agreed in the contract
  • Disagreement in the scope or quality of work
  • delay or abandonment of ongoing work
  • Building work defects
  • Insurance claims
  • Poor communication between the contracting parties that lead to relationship turning sour
  • a combination of different construction disputes

Construction Defects according
to the Building Act

A construction defect is a result of failing to comply with the building standards set in the Act and any other performance requirements stated in the National Construction Code.

In case of a building defect, the Building Act 1993 (VIC) allows a homeowner to write a written direction that instructs the builder to fix building work where:

  • The building practitioner can carry out work to comply with the standards set by the Act; or 
  • Stop further work until a building inspector or a relevant authority is satisfied that the building work is in accordance with the standards set by the Act.

This written direction could be also contested by the building practitioner, especially if the direction is given to the Building Appeals Board.

These construction defects are believed to likely result in:

  • the owner was unable to live or use the building (or part of the building) for what was intended or;
  • The building or any part of the building was damaged or is about to collapse.

Building Dispute Resolution

In terms of building dispute resolution, the Building Act states that Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria will first attempt to negotiate a suitable outcome between the homeowner and the building practitioner.

Should mediation and negotiation by building practitioners such as building surveyors be unsuccessful, the homeowner could explore other options and this includes dispute resolution by the involvement of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) or other Victorian courts.

Consult our Building Dispute Lawyers

Our construction lawyer in Melbourne specializes in building law and may be asked for legal advice when a building dispute occurs. 

These building problems can be frustrating and confusing to clients, so our construction experts in Melbourne could also deal with construction contract and residential building disputes cases in Victoria day in and day out. We are experienced in investigating and reviewing all possible factors that contribute to your situation. Rest assured that you will be getting the right legal advice. 

We work very hard to guide you on the most practical and cost-efficient dispute resolution processes for our clients. As your trusted construction lawyer, we aim to guide through the process and avoid any confusion. The Contracts Specialist team in Melbourne has the technical experience and know-how on how to deal with a variety of legal issues. We have acted on behalf of homeowners, building practitioners, plumbers and developers in a variety of building disputes in the DBDRV, VCAT and the Courts. We aim to get you the outcome you deserve so that you can move forward on the things that are more important to you. 

If you’re in a situation, give us a call. It will cost you nothing to know where you stand legally so get in touch with us today. 

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Send us message for more information!​