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. 

True Story Videos

Faulty Tower: What a Lemon.

Bob the bad builder

Fatal Floors, Dangerous decks.

Slab Heave

Rogue Tradies

Lana`s house building disaster

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THERE HAVE BEEN AT LEAST 9 TOWER FIRES IN THE LAST 4 YEARS... AND EVERY COUNTRY NEEDS TO BE FAR MORE CAREFUL. SO WHY NOT JUST BAN FLAMMABLE CLADDING?

We’ve basically heard of 3 (or perhaps 4) recent tower fires worldwide. But there have actually been at least 9 since the start of 2014, and at least 17 since 2010 (and there may be more not covered in the news) as follows:-
1. Royal Wanxin B Tower, Shenyang), China - February 2011 - 60(+) storeys – hotel
2. Shenyang (B) Tower, China – November 2010 - 28 storeys – apartments
3. Dalian Tower (Northern) China - April 2014 - 34 storeys apartment tower (welding accident)
4. Torch Tower, Dubai - February 2015 - approx. 75 storeys - apartments
5. Sulafa Tower, Dubai - July 2016 - approx. 70 storeys - apartments
6. Fountain Views Tower, Dubai (also collapsed) - April 2017 - under construction 72 storeys - apartments (almost completed)
7. Tamweel Tower (The Address, Marina), Dubai - 63 storeys - December 2015 –apartments
8. Lacrosse Tower, Melbourne, Australia - November 2014 - 23 storeys - apartments
9. Grenfell Tower, London - June 2017 - 24 storeys (re-clad 1970’s tower) - at least 79 reported fatalities
10. Polat Tower, Istanbul, Turkey - July 2012 (apartments?)
11. Al Nahda Tower, Sharjah, Tehran - April 2012 (apartments?)
12. Mermoz Tower, Roubaix, France - May 2012 (apartments?)
13. Baku Tower, Azerbaijan - May 2015 - 16 storeys (apartments?) - 17 dead
14. Shanghai Tower, China, November 2010 - 28 storeys – apartments - 58 fatalities
15. Wooshin Tower, Busan, South Korea - October 2010 - 38 storeys - apartments
16. Grozny Olympus Tower, Chechnya, Russia - April 2013 45 storeys – apartments (?)
17. Water Club Tower, Atlantis City, USA - September 2007 - 38 storeys - hotel

Interestingly, the mode of the spread of the above-mentioned recent fires seems to be mainly cladding-based. What sparked the fires was a variety of causes, including 2 by cigarettes / faulty wiring / fireworks lighting an adjacent building.

Previous to that, and stretching back nearly 50 years, there seem to be less than a dozen examples of disastrous tower building fires including a well detailed example that caught fire recently… the Plasco Tower, Tehran – 17 storeys mixed use commercial plus apartments which was due to several serious breaches of fire regulations (including there being no fire extinguishers to help at the source of the fire). That tower was built in the 1960’s.

Often fires were contained to individual apartments. Now the fires spread via the cladding.

We eventually banned asbestos cement sheeting so why not flammable cladding?

VBAG keeping building consumers and the Australian public informed because out governments don’t seem to care.
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EVERY GOVERNMENT(AND ASSOCIATION AND AUTHORITY) HAS IT IN FOR BUILDING CONSUMERS IT SEEMS... WE NEED TO LET THEM KNOW WHO IS REALLY THE BOSS.

It makes sense that our federal government is responsible for our inadequate standards and our National Construction Code.
But it has been quite a long time since the Southbank Lacrosse Tower fire (which followed the Tower fire in Dalian, Northern China and the Tower fire in Dubai).

Now over 30 innocent people have died in the London Grenfell Tower fire tragedy... and that seems to have spurred our federal government into action at long last... nearly 3 years since our own Melbourne tower fire. Now we have a senate enquiry into the use of (what seems to be) illegal flammable cladding when installed 10 metres or more above the ground.

But the builder of the Lacrosse Towers is still permitted to fight the owners of that tragedy in court.

What a grossly unfair system we have in Australia... a system that seems deliberately designed to protect enterprise ahead of its own people. And this hidden agenda that protects enterprise is built into legislation at every level of government. How many negligent culprits have been jailed for their negligence for instance... NONE? Is enterprise a protected species?

It is this and the other hidden agenda to keep the price of buildings as low as possible that we Aussies must change; or we will have to wait for the next grossly negligent act that causes people to die... or the governments will do nothing. The lethargy of all of our governments was mind-boggling as regards smoke alarms and safety switches... and there are still houses without adequate protection.

VBAG thinks that the current senate enquiry will almost certainly steer clear of these more important fundamental (hidden agenda) issues. Wait and see.

We are now told that that the flammable cladding materials are illegal in many cases when used more than 10 metres above the ground: and yet someone chose these cheap potentially dangerous products were chosen by someone, specified by others; and that someone possibly lied about their suitability, and if nobody lied, then a building surveyor negligently permitted their use.

It's not just the products, it's the negligent labour associated with their being used that we must prevent. Those who permitted its use must be prevented from having the power to make such decisions.

The word PREVENTION seems to be alien to the thought processes of governments and authorities.
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TWO AMUSING STORIES IN ONE (Plus an addendum comment):

How a New Home Owner Couple Coped With Their Badly Built Home.

Their house had a lot of defects… defects (at today’s prices) worth just over $200 000 to rectify. Being near the top of a hill the soil was not very thick and at 250 mm depth it became weathered rock… and at just 400 mm depth or so it became bedrock. The site basically sloped to the right side.

Story 1

The man of the house was but 1.65 metres high and he had a very good friend who was 1.95 metres high. He requested a basement because he was very handy at many things like his father before him. He requested that this be under the back right hand corner of the house… a man’s shed so to speak.

The builder failed to consider the rocky nature of the soil and set the house lower on the block by cutting into the soil on the left side to save base brickwork.

But this led to insufficient allowance for headroom in the basement amongst other things (but it saved on the front and rear steps and stumps). When the house was almost complete, the owner asked where was his contracted basement and the builder stated that he had the matter under control... and asked how tall the owner was. At that stage the height at the door was 1200 mm and the top of the house footing was just 50 mm lower.

And so the builder jack-hammered the weathered rock out to a depth of 450 mm making the overall height (after infill slab)1650 mm into which you had to duck down, take one half pace across the footing and then step down 450 mm into the basement which finished flush with the bottom of the footing (missing the suspended stormwater drain on the way). And there was 100 mm of water in the basement to contend with when you got there.

When the owner stood up, his head was flush with the underside of the large (300 mm deep) floor joists. His friend’s head was out of sight and just touching the underside of the flooring. I later saw a photo of the owner and his friend in gumboots standing in about 400 mm of water… with the friend’s head not visible at all… quite a classic shot. The builder had forgotten to form an outlet to drain the basement and the footing was in the way, so a pump was used instead. Basements have to be 2100 mm below the undersides of beams / floor joists for safety reasons.

The cost to make this basement the correct height with a proper height door accessible from outside together with proper drainage was priced at $16 000.

Story 2

To cope with some of the other defects in the house, the man’s wife together with the building consultant thought up a funny scenario which made everything so ridiculous that it brought a wry smile to her face each time she looked at any of the more serious defects in the home. It kept her hopeful for the future somehow. And it went something like this whilst she cleaned the floors…

The grout is cracked between quite a few floor tiles… But don’t worry about that because the tiles have to come up because 20% of them are creaking…

And don’t worry about that either, because the particleboard flooring might have to be replaced because the glue-bond has failed between the floor joists and the floor sheeting making it flex downwards and upwards too much…

And the walls sit on the flooring too so maybe we will need to insert lots of trimmer floor joists to take the replaced floor sheeting…

And maybe the skirtings and architraves will need to come up and be replaced or re-painted when they are reinstated…

And the kitchen cupboards might have to come up as well…

But we don’t need to worry about all the mess and dust, because we will have to move out for a few months whilst the work is carried out.

There was another one involving the brickwork… where 50% of the top-shelf pre-scraped rustic feature bricks were laid back-to-front (you could see the pallet marks)… where there were a staggering 23 other fairly expensive brickwork defects for the owner to choose from… as to why this alleged defect item was not going to be easily fobbed off by the much-used Building Act disclaimer which states that the removal costs must be reasonable and in keeping with the detriment caused by leaving the alleged defect alone (also aided and abetted by a precedent).

Anyway it kept the owners buoyant during a very trying time up until they received a large amount of money in the VCAT settlement... thanks to their perseverance.

We think that Building Consultants and barristers have a duty to help home owners cope with the trauma associated with VCAT and Compulsory Conciliation… but we have heard many stories where that did not occur.

VBAG keeping building consumers and the general public informed.
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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.