The Victorian Building Authority (VBA) has introduced heavier penalties to target builders that flout building rules, regulations and permits in the state.

The VBA now has greater enforcement powers over builders who wilfully oversee or carry out building work that is not in accordance with the building permits, the 1993 Building Act, or Victorian building regulations.

One of several amendments to the Act is the inclusion of Indictable Offences, which carry heavier penalties aimed at deterring anyone in the business of building from deliberately doing the wrong thing. The scope has also been expanded to include people and businesses that manage or arrange building work.

VBA CEO Prue Digby explains that people involved in building work who are found guilty of committing an offence by deliberately ignoring the law will face a penalty of fines. Courts have been empowered to impose a prison sentence in some cases. The new offences carry maximum fines of $93,276 and a potential maximum of five years’ imprisonment for a person; and maximum fines of $466,380 for a body corporate.

Key amendments to the Act and building regulations also include:

  • People in partnerships that undertake building work are now liable as builders, meaning that if the partnership is guilty of an offence, each member of the partnership may also be liable, even if they are not a builder themselves.
  • Conflict of interest provisions have been extended from private building surveyors to include municipal building surveyors acting outside their municipal area.

Additionally, new provisions in the Act will allow a body corporate or company to register as a building practitioner with the VBA from 1 July 2018.

Prue Digby adds that VBA will continue to work closely with different stakeholders to ensure their awareness of, and compliance with the new regulations.

Information on the changes that have come into effect can be found on the VBA website.