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Response from DELWP to my letter regarding reforms to the building system

[A personal matter of potential interest to some people in Victoria, Australia]

In response to my letter to the Minister for Planning regarding urgently needed reforms, here’s the response (I’ve removed unnecessary information).

First the images and then the text.

Text here:

Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning
(To Mr Sanjeev Sabhlok

Ref: MINO26477

Dear Mr Sabhlok

REFORMS TO VICTORIA’S BUILDING SYSTEM

Thank you for your letter of 6 February 2017 to the Minister for Planning, the Hon Richard Wynne MP outlining some suggestions for improvements to the building system in Victoria. The Minister has asked me to reply on his behalf.

I note that you have previously written about your own building project and understand that you also have recently spoken to … on the issues raised in your letter.

The current Victorian Government has a commitment to improve protections from home building malpractice and I am pleased to be able to advise that reforms are already underway which will address many of your suggestions.

The Building Legislation Amendment (Consumer Protection) Act 2016 which passed through the Parliament in April 2016 and the Building Amendment (Enforcement and Other Measures) Bill, which is currently before the Parliament contain a package of measures designed to achieve quality built outcomes, ensure timeliness in all processes and deliver clear and accessible pathways for consumers to resolve disputes and get their homes built to the required standard.

Some of the specific measures include:

^ The establishment of a register to provide improved and accessible information on a building practitioner’s registration and disciplinary history to assist consumers make more informed decisions about their choice of building practitioner.

^ The introduction of new financial and personal probity tests on registration and renewal of registration. In addition to this reform, consumers are now able to confirm a builders eligibility for insurance on the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority’s website.

^ Limiting the period of a practitioners registration to up to five years. Practitioners wishing to renew their registration will be subject to the financial and personal probity tests and will be required to demonstrate competency, through for example, having complied with any prescribed continuing professional development requirements or any other prescribed renewal criteria.

^ The ability for the Victorian Building Authority to impose conditions on a practitioners registration to more effectively regulate the type of work a building practitioner can carry out.

^ The requirement for a builder to provide an information sheet (known as the Domestic Building Consumer Guide) to a consumer before the major domestic building contract is signed. The information sheet provides critical information on roles and responsibilities of a builder, the building surveyor and a consumer including the importance of obtaining legal advice before a contract is signed. A copy of the guide can be accessed on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website at www.consumer.vic.gov.au.

^ Mandatory conciliation of disputes to assist consumers resolve disputes early and without the need to incur further costs and delays. The new dispute resolution service, Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria will be able to issue binding dispute resolution orders to require a builder to complete incomplete work or fix defective work. Non-compliance with a dispute resolution order will be grounds for discipline. As a disincentive to appeals, VCAT will be able to issue cost orders where it finds that dispute resolution orders should have been complied with.

^ New disciplinary sanctions and grounds for discipline, including expanded grounds for immediate suspension including but not limited to, failure to comply with a condition for registration.

Many of these measures may not assist you with your own home, as I understand that your builder … went into liquidation on 14 February 2017. As a result, you may be eligible to make a domestic building insurance claim. I encourage you to contact the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority to discuss what entitlements you may have.

Once again, thank you for the time taken to write to the Minister on these important issues.

Yours sincerely
Executive Director
Planning, Building and Heritage

8/3/16

Sanjeev Sabhlok

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