A new bill is being introduced into Parliament this week that aims to strengthen Victoria’s building system by heavily penalising illegal constructions. The tougher penalties will include significant fines and jail time for people found guilty of illegal building work.

The reforms incorporated in the Building Amendment (Enforcement and Other Measures) Bill 2016 follow the recent demolition of the Corkman Hotel in Carlton and the Lacrosse apartment building fire in November 2014. Addressing longstanding flaws in the current building system, the bill also responds to findings and recommendations from the Auditor-General’s report relating to building practitioner registration, the building permit levy system, and the role of local government.

These amendments are expected to protect consumers, eliminate home building malpractice, and reinforce confidence in the industry.

Highlights of the Building Amendment (Enforcement and Other Measures) Bill 2016:

Anyone who orders or carries out building work without a permit may receive a maximum of five years of jail or a $93,276 fine for an individual and $466,380 for a company.

Courts can make any orders considered appropriate to intervene and prevent any building work that contravenes the Act including halting building or demolition work, seeking rectification works or a rebuild, or barring someone from operating as a building practitioner.

Key reforms also include new entry and information gathering powers to monitor compliance with building regulations; registration of corporations to increase consumers’ confidence in the builders they hire; stronger regulation around building inspections to make sure inspectors are qualified, inspections happen when needed, and records are easily accessible; and restrictions on entitlement to payment for builders who carry out domestic building work and plumbers who carry out plumbing work without being appropriately registered.

The new reforms follow the Building Legislation Amendment (Consumer Protection) Act 2016 introduced earlier this year as part of the Andrews Labor Government’s push for a fair and more accountable building system. These changes were developed based on extensive consultation with the building industry and other stakeholders, considering the Auditor-General’s recommendations to create a stronger, fairer building system.