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house-second-headeraa1jpg-1Consumers who attempt to build, extend, renovate or do repairs are totally unprotected and we can prove that this has been the case for the last 23 years. Many independent inquiries have confirmed this fact, but no government will listen or act to stop what is essentially ‘legalized’ building fraud. Just read some of the stories of those whose lives have been ruined, Then come join us and be part of bringing about genuine change. 

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BEFORE YOU BUY YOUR HOME… JUST THINK ABOUT THIS…

MAKE SURE THAT YOUR BUILDING CONSULTANT DEFINES DEFECT THOROUGHLY OR THERE MAY BE HUGE CONSEQUENCES FOR YOU.

Building Consultants, (loosely called building inspectors because they inspect buildings), can be responsible for a lot of heartache down the track, because they usually have not thought through what a defect is... if they have thought about it at all.

This is particularly the case for new houses, where the results of an all-too-commonplace deficient report can be a veritable disaster for new owners.

When they look at the house you are about to purchase, most building consultants fail to notice so many things, that what they write is really a joke.

Most building consultants base their inspections on the Code for Inspection of Buildings (Pre-purchase) AS 4349.1.

The result of this is that they do not look at even half of the building in detail, particularly if the consultant is an employee... where Workers Compensation Insurance (W.C.I.) rules apply.

In fact the code reads as though it is written by a group of employer bosses, who made certain that nobody would find out the gross deficiencies of an employee- written inspection report.

These reports basically deny the employees gaining access to inside the roof, walking around on the roof and getting under houses with timber floors.

For instance, they are likely not to inspect up close to 95% of the structure. There is an article on this on our site if you care to scroll down.

AND GET THIS… We have details of VCAT cases that were priced by registered builders… which at today's prices would be over the following amounts to rectify properly. Mind you, owners don’t get much more than half these amounts in VCAT even if they have experts acting for them, courtesy of the system that is designed to protect builders.

The amounts to rectify properly perhaps the highest 30 of those cases (including 2 huge VCAT cases we found in the newspapers) are as follows :-
$465 000 $440 000N $380 000 $340 000 $320 000N $290 000 $285 000 $260 000 $245 000 $225 000A $210 000 $210 000 $205 000 $190 000 $160 000 $150 000 $145 000 $141 000 $135 000 $135 000 $130 000 $125 000 $120 000 $115 000 $115 000 $110 000 $105 000 $105 000A $105 000L $ 95 000A

L – Lock-up Stage A – Additions N – Newspaper Articles (VCAT Hearings) All others – new houses under warranty.

Every one of those 4700 (+) western suburbs grossly defective slab home owners has a potential list of defects worth well over $200 000 to rectify properly.

VBAG thinks that it is likely that there are over 10 000 new homes out there, that you would have to describe as lemons. BE WARNED….

The chances are that your building consultant will not even realise that the house he / she is inspecting is a lemon. Please be careful selecting your consultant... think sole trader for starters and ask the pertinent questions stated in earlier articles.

A definition of defect MUST include items which are (Note well consultants):-
• Likely not to reach a reasonable life expectancy,
• Do not comply with manufacturer minimum requirements
• Inferior performance Solutions clearly not based on expert judgement (such as flammable cladding / exploding glass balustrades / Infinity cabling / safety glass / flashings cut into styrene foam / incorrect top-edge protection for decking / more…)
• PLUS the warranties contained in the Standard Building Contract.

If building consultants have just the Domestic Building Contract definition, they will find just under 50% of the defects in your home, even if they have relatively few disclaimers. (The Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995 definition does not spell out anywhere near all of the implied warranties of a builder... see previous article to see just how deficient that Act really is).

Employee building consultants (even with a proper definition of defect), have disclaimers that preclude them getting onto & into the roof and under the house… so that they will look at no more than 50% of the house.

Multiply the two together and employee building consultants with n proper definition of defect will find less than 25% of the defects... and fail to discover if the roof trusses are sound as regards long-term stability for instance.

This figure corresponds with VBAG’s combined experiences where building consultants often find well under 10% of the total defects in a new house.

Usually the 6 most common defects in new homes are missed by the vast majority of building consultants (well over 90% of them)... and supervisors... and certifying building inspectors had already missed them!

Is it any wonder then, that the vast majority of new houses (now 1 in 5 houses) have over $25 000 of defects in them after warranty’ end (scroll down to earlier article)?

SO BEFORE YOU BUY YOUR HOME (PARTICULARLY A NEW HOME):

Many houses for sale today will have been built after 1994 when the quality of houses began to fall sharply until about the year 2000, from which date quality has remained generally at a similar quite poor standard.

Some will still be under warranty, in which case we strongly suggest that you obtain advice from your solicitor (as distinct from your conveyancer) to find out your rights under common law, because your building consultant (if expert) will undoubtedly find defects that the owners could still claim under warranty...

And VMIA warranty insurance policies do not help buyers (several previous articles).

In Common Law, it may well be the case, that once you know what is wrong with the house, you cannot subsequently expect to claim defects in that house (and quite possibly also those defects not discovered by virtue of the fact that you had the opportunity if you had acquired the services of a good quality building consultant to find them).

Irrespective of when the house was built, you should at the very least:-
1. Visit the VBAG site online and read pertinent articles (and for houses built since 1994 possibly those articles which relate to new under warranty homes will also help).
2. Find out how to choose a thorough knowledgeable building consultant… one who has nearly always got on and in the roof and under timber floors.
3. Obtain the services of a Building Consultant (suggest a sole trader because they are not governed by-over-the top OH& S rules). That building consultant should:-
• Have a full definition of defect
• Have very few disclaimers (with ludicrous access requirements), which means that he/she will traverse the roof / get inside the roof space if possible / get under the house if possible
• Have professional indemnity insurance for building inspections (as distinct from PPI for being a registered building practitioner… very important and quite different)
• Be able to estimate roughly how much rectification works (properly done) would cost.
4. Ask if the building consultant also looks for termites (not many do).
5. Demand that the agent will permit your consultant to carry out an inspection (approx. 2 hours)… even if there is one that has already been carried out for the owners.

VBAG keeping building consumers, the general public (and hopefully solicitors & building consultants) informed.
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THE 2 MOST IMPORTANT TOPICS NO ONE EVER TALKS ABOUT

DUTIES OF BUILDERS AND REQUIRED MINIMUM SUPERVISION

When we buy a new TV and it is faulty... we have a right to demand to have it properly repaired or replaced by another one in perfect working order.

Similarly, home owners should be able to get sufficient money to rectify all of the defects left in their homes by builders. It is reasonable to expect this.

When a builder leaves defects in a new home, it is the result of his negligence... because negligence is a failure of a person to carry out his basic duties.

And every duty of a builder implies a warranty...

Which is why standard building contracts (and the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995 upon which they are based) are grossly deficient... with just over half of the actual builder warranties listed in these ‘so-called’ standards.

Domestic Building Contracts are tragically deficient as far as home owners are concerned. This deficiency is why hardly anybody knows what a defect is.

So VBAG has compiled a list of the duties that it considers builders to have.

Builders have the following duties:-
• Ordering materials of good quality and suitable for the purpose for which they are to be used (and new unless otherwise specifically stated)
• Ensuring that work will not commence until the builder is satisfied that all pertinent permits and documentation have been issued
• Ensuring that their workers are adequately covered by workers compensation insurance and that the site is safe for workers
• Ensuring that the works comply with all laws and legal requirements, The Building Act and all regulations made under that act
• Protecting all materials from damage and loss (including insurance to that effect)
• Ensuring that the work shall be carried out in a proper and workmanlike manner and also in accordance with the Plans and Specifications set out in the contract, and that the work shall be carried out with reasonable skill and care
• Ensuring that the works are completed on time
• Ensuring that insurance is in place for the safety of the public via public liability insurance
• Ascertaining that stormwater council drains are available (or where applicable that the eco-drains are at such a level that flooding or partial flooding of the site cannot occur)
• Ascertaining what the flood level is for the site (or ensuring that the owners have ascertained this)
• Ensuring that the owner has procured the necessary information showing where the property boundaries are (where pertinent)
• Ensuring that at completion, the building will be suitable for occupation and its intended purpose
• Where applicable, where the contract states that the work shall be of such a nature and quality as required by the owners, that the works shall comply with and achieve those desired results
• Ensuring that variations and/or performance solutions will not be carried out unless the owner/s have first agreed to same
• Ensuring that manufacturers’ written minimum requirements and specifications will be complied with
• Ensuring that the soil tester has made every effort to ensure that the site has been adequately researched and tested to prove that the site is not experiencing conditions which are other than NORMAL
• Supervising works carried out by nominated sub-contractors to the same degree that the builder’s sub-contractors are supervised
• Supervising the works to ensure that defects are not incorporated into the works
• That each component, work item and system will be built to last at least as long as would be considered a reasonable life expectancy
• Keeping a plastic covered set of stamped Permit Documents on site at all times including when they arrive (stamped) truss layout plan and computations.

The last 8 of these implied warranties are not stated in the standard domestic building contracts, (we say) to protect business.

VBAG endeavouring to keep building consumers well informed.
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THE NATIONAL CONSTRUCTION CODE AND GUIDE TO STANDARDS AND TOLERANCES EXPOSED… AGAIN.
(Kitchens do not get wet apparently - first of several articles on the Guide).

When the Housing Guarantee Fund Limited (HGFL) was in charge of domestic building warranty insurance, it gradually formed a list of what it considered to be fair and reasonable limits to what was considered unworkmanlike and what was not considered unworkmanlike and set these out in The Guide to Standards And Tolerances… a pamphlet which grew from its initial 4 pages (of quite small print) to what it is today a 72 page booklet.

Some of the matters argued over incessantly are those that are visible to some and not to others. There are now explanations showing minimum distances of line of sight from (say) a wall or ceiling that are used to determine whether or not a blemish is visible.

But all this aside, although those items listed in the guide are determined to be defects, defect is actually not defined… even though it states in the standard domestic building contract that upon completion, the owners shall inspect and point out the defects (which the builder will or will not agree with).

This is why so few building consultants and owners get very far in a dispute, because the guide is all that is written by any authority on this matter.

And the HGFL notoriously denied wherever possible any alleged defect that had not already started to fail or failed.

Discarded were those alleged defects which were based on extensive experience of failures in similar circumstances… BASED ON TIME and those based on a knowledge of the minimum requirements set by manufacturers (with good reason) so as to avoid future failure.

Also discarded were those where builders had altered (without agreement by the owners), items of work known as alternative solutions that were based on price and not on expert judgement.
Also denied for years and years were items which were on appeal eventually won by home owners who knew they were being cheated.

One of these is the incorrect silicone joint thickness at junction joints where wall or floor tiles meet other wall tiles or fixtures.
At present there is a blanket denial regarding kitchen wall substrates based on kitchens actually being classified as being not included in WET AREAS.

I don’t know who COAG and the writers of the National Construction Code (NCC), and before it the writers of the Building Code of Australia, think they are, but we have it on good authority that every kitchen has a sink and hot and cold water that comes out of taps… and sometimes taps are left on for too long, turned on too hard with resultant splashing or left running whilst the plughole is blocked. And sometimes the dishwasher hose breaks (not infrequently); and sometimes moisture collects and runs down the wall behind the hot plate or stove.

So why don’t builders have to form properly the joints of wall tiles meeting with the kitchen bench tops (plus install edge-sealed moisture resistant substrates behind the wall tiles and under the floor tiles) as is required at a vanity basin in a bathroom for instance?

And why don’t the builders have to ensure that MDF and floor linings are made durable enough to withstand the likely regular splashing from the sink area?

So that is why we have suggested that the specification be over-ridden to cater for this obvious poor judgement by the writers of the NCC.

AND it is based on very sound reasoning that the omission of these measures in Kitchens are in fact defects, based on the very same (performance based) CODE… because kitchens built any other way than what is required for Wet Areas ARE NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE if they are not installed that way.

As for so many unfair things in this world that are continually denied: it just needs a brave home owner with a capable, clear-thinking building consultant to take this matter to the Supreme Court for it to be resolved and corrected.

We think that these changes were instituted by the writers of these codes, because on so many occasions the builders had not told the plasterers to install the correct wall substrates and the powers that be thought up a great con to save large builders (those who supervised inadequately) from having to fork out $500 just to rectify such a petty problem.

So now the owners think it is their problem when it certainly should not be their problem at all. The builders can simply fob them off with an in correct definition written in the National Construction Code. How rotten is that?

What a pathetic bunch of rotten (protect-business-at-the-expense-of-consumers) people we have in charge of our building industry!

VBAG endeavouring to keep building consumers informed.
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THE DOMESTIC BUILDING CONTRACTS ACT IS DELIBERATELY MADE DEFICIENT TO DUMB US DOWN AND TO REMOVE OUR BASIC RIGHTS

The Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995 (still given that date despite massive numbers of amendments including the 2016 DBDRV changes) has, under ‘Definitions’, removed a pertinent clause it seems. There will be a copy in the Supreme Court to back this up we believe… but it isn’t necessary to find out…

In 1995, we believe that there was a definition that “defective work” shall include at least all implied warranties… and then the act in section 8 went on to list just some of the obvious warranties (basically those included in the standard domestic building contract). This has been removed in an amendment it seems.

BUT IT DOESN’T REALLY MATTER IF IT WAS NEVER THERE.

It’s not there is the point… and that is just the government’s way of dumbing us down a little more to protect business… making it as difficult as possible for building consumers (particularly when their hired help is not expert).

(It would be very nice to find out who advised the writers of this well-hidden amendment… perhaps a well-known solicitor who should be ashamed of himself / herself).

We ask for that person to come clean and reveal who they are. Pigs might fly.

We are never told this sort of thing in Australia… it’s one of a multitude of dark secrets out there… each doing their bit to harm consumers.

But if you are indignant enough (and surrounded by experts), then builders cannot hide from even their unstated responsibilities… because warranties are innate to their work.

They install building materials…

So the materials have to be good quality… that’s in the Act. (And many builders are getting scared of the repercussions of choosing poor quality materials such as exploding glass, Infinity cabling and flammable cladding chosen by them for their high-rise apartment towers)... and they have good reason to.

However, the labour that installs those materials must also be good quality…

And the labour must also be carried out in accordance with the manufacturers’ written instructions and minimum requirements.

But that isn’t there in black and white in the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995 (with its countless amendments slipped in whenever anyone has another idea to add another layer of protection for business).

SO THE ACT IN ITS CURRENT FORM IS QUITE DEFICIENT…

But wait… there’s considerably more...

We say the DBC Act was deliberately made deficient to dumb us down.

What this (alleged) change does, is it removes from the public, any thought process as to what other warranties might apply to building work…

Such as works being carried out so as to…
• Last until a reasonable life expectancy has been reached (includes performance solutions that were not carried out using expert judgement)
• Comply with manufacturer minimum requirements & specifications
• Comply with soil report recommendations unless expert judgement proved that these recommendations were not required for a list of valid reasons.

These are also builder warranties for every single new home. So that’s at least 4 warranties that the Act leaves out. It’s pathetic… or quite sinister… or perhaps both!

These deficiencies in the Act are very much against the rights of building consumers… who may need to go to a higher court than VCAT to prove that these implied warranties are in fact real and reasonable.

We have considerable evidence to the effect that VCAT Members often agree with this reasoning when presented to VCAT by expert building consultants… but as yet there has been no push to have these additional unstated (implied) warranties made part of all future decisions (as are Supreme Court precedents).

We also expect no help from the Victorian Government or COAG in getting these matters out in the open OR the necessary fair changes made to the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995.

VBAG endeavouring to keep building consumers informed and involved.
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Over the last fifteen years, there have more than one hundred (100) Inquiries into the building industry and its governance. These have included parliamentary inquiries and investigations by the Auditor-General, the Productivity Commission, the Ombudsman and other independent organizations. 

The Victorian building industry has suffered from systematic and systemic failure for decades. We now have overwhelming evidence to confirm that this ‘system’ has been malfunctioning for the last 22 years.

After decades of criticism of  the Building Commission’s failure as the ‘industry regulator’, and following damning Reports from the Victorian Auditor-General (2011 and 2013) and a scathing Report from the Victorian Ombudsman in 2012, the Government decided that the Building Commission’s record was so tarnished that it had to be abolished.