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WE ARE THE ONLY CONSUMER ORGANIZATION IN AUSTRALIA REPRESENTING THE INTERESTS OF ALL BUILDING CONSUMERS

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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DISCRIMINATION AGAINST BUILDING CONSUMERS MUST STOP

EACH OPPOSITION PARTY SIMPLY AGREES WITH SUCCESSIVE VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT’S REPRESSIVE BUILDING REFORMS

There wasn’t even a murmur…

There was no getting up in arms about the repressive nature of most of it.

They simply agreed with it… because it was good for business…

It’s as simple as that!

Both sides of parliament hate each other’s guts and yet they ALL AGREE on this issue… you must protect business... even if you have to be unfair to consumers.

We’ve seen it in 1995 & 1998 with The Domestic Building Contracts Act and the VCAT Act… where a serious lack of definitions and unfair measures were introduced via these acts which basically reduced the rights of owners of new homes, new units and recent additions to their homes.

We’ve seen it regarding the Fishermen’s Bend virtual lack of amenity legislation passed in September 2014 (later challenged way too late in July this year we believe). A lack of amenity hurts those living there and the general public.

We’ve seen it again with the repressive new reforms incorporating the first stop DBDRV for all building disputes in July 2016.

We’ve seen it again with the swindling of owners of flammable cladding clad apartments in October 2016 where the VBA was nobbled and stripped of its powers to prosecute builders after completion of projects... (VBAG says this was deliberately done in order to protect those businesses guilty of allowing these potentially dangerous buildings built and passed as complete.

And now we’ve seen it again with the loans offered to owners of apartments with flammable cladding, compounding the protection of those who (illegally) built those apartments. (The famous line “Give him an offer he can’t refuse” comes to mind).

The current Victorian Government labelled all of the legislation as consumer protection reforms… when just one of the reforms was consumer-friendly… the choice of the relevant building surveyors having to be by the home owners and not the builders to remove the possibility of cronyism. The rest of the reforms were (as VBAG sees them)… repressive.

They obviously wanted it to appear as though they were helping home owners in dispute, by forcing them (for their own good they say) to go to the DBDRV (also called Compulsory Conciliation Forum by the public), before they were eligible to go to VCAT… thus saving those home owners thousands of dollars that they would most likely have lost in VCAT. (Unfortunately that is largely true because the vast majority of building consultants, commonly called building inspectors, are not expert.They fight for the owners to be compensated for the defects they discovered... when they don't even know what a defect is.

Band-aids of symptoms of defects is all owners can expect from this DBDRV forum... because that is all that the builders will agree to (because it does not come out of their pockets when they can send their tradesmen back to re-do what failed in such a short time... without supervision... again... leaving the actual defects to create havoc when they fail.

What hope is there for new home owners, new unit owners and those with recent additions when their so-called expert is very likely to be a dud, by stating that symptoms of defects are defects... so that the repair is just a cheap band-aid?

What hasn't yet been realised by anyone but VBAG, is that $Billions are involved each year with these (almost worthless) repairs.

What the Victorian Government was hell-bent on doing with its 2016 reforms, was stopping in its tracks, the growing public awareness of the huge expenditure by home owners fighting in VCAT against their builders, to have their defect-riddled new homes, units and additions rectified.

The Ombudsman / Auditor combination stated this figure to be in the vicinity of $1.9 Billion annually (just in Victoria) in about 2011. By 2015 it was more like $3 Billion VBAG says (and close to $10 Billion Australia-wide).

The $3 Billion figure was stated on the ABC in 2015… and so the Victorian government decided it had to act promptly… or confidence in the building industry would deservedly wane substantially.

AND THAT WOULD HURT BUSINESS… even though those businesses had harmed considerably tens of thousands of building consumers.

The number of affected owners who went to VCAT or their insurer was (from memory) stated to be 38 000 (just in Victoria) in 2013. That high ranking official was sacked by the government soon after spilling the beans… and it smells of over-protective governments doing what it must, to protect builder businesses… even guilty ones… even if tens of thousands of building consumers are hurt in the process.

And the high ranking official who tore strips off the VMIA insurance scheme… calling it a “junk product”… was also sacked soon after he blew the whistle.

All other state owned insurance products are different, but only Tasmania has had the guts to get rid of it altogether. The other states charge something like $2000 per project average, (plus mark-ups by ‘brokers’ of what is a single product), for (in Victoria with VMIA)… less than 2% cover what is considered equivalent cover provided for comprehensive insurance.

The silence of the successors of these high ranking (Ombudsman and Attorney General) officials has been deafening.

And each ‘protectionist’ repressive measure by our governments is made to appear as helping building consumers, when it is exactly the opposite.

When you think about it…

If home owners were paying $3 Billion fighting their builders, then builders were also paying a very similar amount fighting their ‘valued’ home owner clients, rather than repairing the shoddy work they had constructed.

And this is why VBAG says that the conspiracy theory is correct…

That the REAL reasoning behind the urgency for the building industry reforms, was far more likely to have been considered vital to save the builders (fighting their home owner clients) $3 Billion annually… and that is why DBDRV was introduced… to by-pass VCAT and save BUILDERS $3 Billion each year.

They just told the public that they were doing it to protect home owners… which just seems so out of character with all that preceded and succeeded it.

And by the way the DBDRV seems to have gag orders attached to its decisions.

And it is almost certain, (with virtually no statistics publicly available), that the DBDRV forum is promoting the repair of a drastically reduced number of agreed alleged defects in new homes, units and additions… the ones that builders can band-aid for nothing by sending their tradesman back to ‘fix’ what has already failed in just a year or two… again with virtually no supervision… the reason the defects existed in the first place.

All of this courtesy of the fact that DBDRV has no thorough definition of ‘defect’ as its basis for mediation.

The conciliators are almost certainly carrying out a single duty to ‘expedite’ each dispute without any definition of defect whatsoever.

SURELY THIS WARRANTS A ROYAL COMMISSION INTO THE RESIDENTIAL BUILDING INDUSTRY.

VBAG keeping interested building consumers informed despite a gross lack of official statistics released by VCAT and DBDRV and those insidious gag-orders.
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THE WOES OF BUILDING CONSUMERS FROM 1996 TO TODAY COULD WELL AFFECT ALL OF US IN AUSTRALIA SOONER THAN YOU THINK... AND WARRANTS A ROYAL COMMISSION INTO THE RESIDENTIAL BUILDING INDUSTRY.

(Re-posted at 105 PR with minor political message modifications).

WHEN YOU ARE THE OWNERS OF AN AVERAGE NEW HOME / UNIT.

• 62% of the annual 105 000 home owners are too busy to, (or loath to) take on the builder past a phone call or two and quickly give up… and whatever defects are incorporated into their homes will fail when they fail… many such defects often starting to fail or well underway to failing at just 2 years old (see later).
• 38% of owners are unhappy with their new homes, units, additions… and are likely to take the matter further.
• 80% - 90% of these remaining 38% (in other words 30.4% - 34.2% of the total pool of owners) used to be put off (on the telephone by BACV or Consumer Affairs) from going to VCAT… and so we think it likely that this will be repeated within the new DBDRV forum (we wait for some official figures one day from the Ombudsman or Attorney General)… this leaving 10% - 20% of the remaining 38% to fight on. This equates to 3.8% – 7.6% of the original total pool of new homes, units, additions owners pressing on.
• This likely number of (approximate until official figures are released) remaining 3.8% – 7.6% of all owners of new homes, units, additions owners… actually go to DBDRV, where the vast majority are likely to agree to some sort of settlement or most likely have the builders return to site at their leisure to attend to an agreed (reduced) list of alleged defects (many just symptoms of the actual defects)… agreed to by the builders only because these could be band-aided at considerably less cost than what is required to rectify them. (Often these band-aid repairs are carried out in the identical way that they were built… where they had already failed within the 2 year period for which defects other-than-structural defects are covered (according to the Guide to Standards and Tolerances).
• We estimate that just 10% (or 0.38% - 0.76%) of these initial fighters will push on VCAT. ((Let’s see if we are close to the mark… this will equate (in Victoria), to 400 up to 800 VCAT building cases per year. When we get these VCAT figures, we might discover what is happening in DBDRV… we think we are getting close to unveiling unofficial statistics of this apparently secretive forum)).

NOW, we already know from a reasonable sample (just over 400 thoroughly inspected new homes (including traversing all but one roof of this sample / getting into all but half a dozen roofs… flat roofs / getting under more than 90% of the timber floors of these houses mostly built in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne)… that the average value per home of rectifying the defects left in those homes was over $25 000…

WE ARE NOT KIDDING!

For 5 million Australians already (and growing fast), there will be a costly bight creeping into their lives.

Most will not even know why they have so many items to fix in their new homes… their building consultants unable to find most of the actual defects in their homes… not even in time to take on their builder under 10-year negligence rules.

Many of this rapidly growing number of new home owners will:-

• Find it difficult to pay the mortgage, particularly if there is even a modest interest rate hike… because banks chose to lend more to them than their overall risk factors warranted
• Not even think of adding onto or altering their homes or units,
• Not take as many holidays,
• Become disillusioned with building and builders,
• Hang onto old furniture and clothes, and…

The vast majority will not even know why they have become depressed… and many of these people will become non-spenders at great expense to the overall economy... AND THIS IS A MAJOR PART OF WHY CONSUMER CONFIDENCE IS FALLING.

Many's the time the ABC newsreader has been confounded by the signs being good... and yet consumer confidence is not following suit. (The building industry needs a Royal Commission too).

Only immigration is keeping the residential building industry buoyant.

Those who took on their builders in VCAT will most of them have had poor results, where they ended up paying their own costs… and often finished up losing a protracted traumatic battle… a Pyrrhic victory at best, and certainly not sufficient to repair most of the alleged defect items.

Those who were lucky enough to hire a building consultant who was expert plus a builder to price the claimed defects, will most likely end up with their costs paid for by their poor quality builder plus just 1/2 to 2/3 of what was needed to rectify all of their claimed defects, courtesy of precedents, tough VCAT rules and unfair building contracts.

Deals done in VCAT at mediation or Compulsory Conference (with mandatory accompanying gag orders), will save some costs, but also come with less money being offered towards rectifying the defects.

We have found that many of these owners sell shortly afterwards to (often) unsuspecting buyers… and the ‘maintenance’ scenario unfolds as if they had been the original owners.

SO… this rapidly growing number of Australians and/or those who purchase their homes, will fall behind expectations of the average family, with the result being that other areas of our economy will see less and less of these people due to their reduced expenditure on fashion goods, tools, holidays and retail generally. It’s called blight…

AND IT WILL DRAG AUSTRALIA DOWN.

The only up-side will be the blossoming of the defect repairs industry wrongly called the building maintenance industry… where the cheaper (band-aid) offered ‘solutions’ agreed to by the struggling home owners are merely maintaining the symptoms of the actual defects in their homes… in the long-term costing them two to three times what rectification of the actual underlying defects would have cost.

But ‘FIXING’ THINGS CHEAPLY COSTS FAR MORE IN THE LONG-RUN…

And this will affect a larger and larger percentage of our community, leading to overall economic blight of large areas of our community, due to huge wastage factors, shortage of materials and resultant price rises which need not have occurred… and VBAG says that this annual wastage is likely to reach well over $10 Billion within a decade… and…

ALL BECAUSE NONE OF OUR GOVERNMENTS CARE ABOUT BUILDING CONSUMERS THE WAY THEY DO ABOUT BUSINESS.

$10 Billion per year consumer expenditure on ‘maintenance’ will be very difficult to hide.

Blaming falls in expenditure on tourism, retail and the like together with the other awful hurt which consumers have to put up with such as scandalous behaviour by business associated with banking financial advice, superannuation insurance rorts and the like will not fool the general public for very much longer.

WARNING TO ALL GOVERNMENTS… PROTECT BUILDING CONSUMERS OR FAIL TO DO SO AT YOUR OWN PERIL.

VBAG keeping interested building consumers informed and prepared.
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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.

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