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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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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Let’s face it… this is the situation we have at present in Melbourne’s new outer western and north western suburbs with their 8000 block estates being developed at more than one per month in order to cater for our burgeoning population:
1. Soil Report Writers do not wish to fully cater for future heave, because it will mean far more expensive soil reports which will make their builder clients look elsewhere.
2. Builders do not want to have to tell their future new home owner clients that their usual range of extras for slabs (footing system) and client inclusions over standard display home prices is double what they earlier advised when inviting them into their lair, because it will mean that those clients will basically have to start again.
3. New would-be Home Owners do not want to hear that their house slab component will cost far more than they can afford, because they will have to down-size their dream homes.
4. Relevant Building Surveyors are not knowledgeable enough about heave or simply not prepared to over-ride the soil report findings and upset the apple cart (instead of forcing heave to be proven not to be a possible problem as is their duty), for fear of getting a name for themselves and losing most of their business as a result… because builders hire them.
5. The government will not even consider placing a directive on home estate developers to have thorough soil classifications carried out on their estates located in highly reactive clay volcanic loams that really are not suited to typical footing systems that the rest of Melbourne’s housing stock is built on, particularly with incomplete heave situations being applicable to the majority of house sites Melbourne-wide.

All of this is despite the fact that the climate since the end of the longest drought in Australian white man history by far, has almost certainly been inadequate to return the moisture (taken out for nearly 14 years by the drought) to the soil deep down.

It stands to reason that the longest drought in history dried out soils deeper than ever before. And the soils in highly reactive soils… at least in volcanic loams… are very deep indeed before they reach rock. So it is very likely indeed that these soils are not yet experiencing NORMAL CONDITIONS (as eventually described in detail in the 2011 version of the Residential Slabs and Footings Code AS 2870-1).

Most soil report writers have ignored Appendix D1of the code which in essence precludes the use of the Ys estimation method during abnormal climatic conditions both well into and after the longest drought in modern history. This has been the case for the vast majority of building sites since about the year 2000.

And so, it is almost certainly not an allowable option for a soil report writer to adopt the Ys calculation method to arrive at the classification of the soil on any block in these new estates…AND YET THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT IS HAPPENING or you would have heard the moaning and groaning of the builders by now.

So you would think that someone would mention this besides VBAG… but NO.

That is why we are campaigning for building consumers… because otherwise they will remain connedsumers as they have been since 1994 when privatization got going and checks and balances and regulation dwindled.

So if you wish to know a little more about heave, latent heave, partial heave, future heave… keep tuned in to VBAG in the coming months.

PS: Did you know that based on what the government promised… 22 new suburbs @ 8000 blocks each in the next few years (to keep prices of land affordable via adequate supply), we estimate that this will result in approximately 105 new home commencements per weekday.

It's therefore great for the economy and involves a lot of money and many power-brokers... and they virtually work hand-in-hand with the government... and they don't like conditions placed on such developments... even if it would be fair to require a thorough soil analysis on this land, fraught with the potential for considerable latent heave in the long-term. Maximising profits is more important that shattered lives it seems.

That means that there is quite a strong possibility for deformed slabs to continue unabated for decades… despite the articles in the 2013 newspapers estimating that 000’s of homes in areas slightly closer to the city have recently been seriously affected by grossly deformed waffle pod slabs.

That news was based on an audit of failed (outer-western-suburbs) slabs was severely compromised by the 12 largest builders refusing to take part in the study; and the report was never released by the Victorian Government for quite a lame reason that its release might jeopardise the livelihood of some builders.


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Home owners usually don’t get a copy of the roof truss plan layout… let alone a copy of the computations. This is probably because Relevant Building Surveyors allow work to commence before these computations are completed by the manufacturer… so to many they are just an afterthought.

Now there are human factors involved in even this factory-made element of almost every new home built today. In the factory the timbers used are stress graded and sometimes excessive knot size is missed. We know of two cases of splitting truss top chords. A timber stress-grader (rare experts) confirmed this.

But assuming your home has escaped that problem, and that black borers are no longer an issue in Australia, (as they were in outer Perth for several years in the late eighties… and this was hushed up it seems), then it is only the labour content involved with the installation of trusses that need concern us it seems.

Apart from the design engineers and the relevant code, very few builders concern themselves about the long-term creep possibilities in trusses…

Otherwise, why do well over 95% of new homes fail to meet the minimum fixing requirements (truss to truss) for instance? (And there are several other more important structural problems with trusses which are missed the majority of occasions by all those involved with the building of each house including the truss installers. Skew nails are supposed to be the fixing method, but even with nail guns, installers invariably fail to comply with this basic requirement). Incidentally skew nails are 4 or 5 times as strong as single or parallel nails.

Over 120 reports seen by VBAG have not mentioned this defect, and 21 different building consultant report writers (out of 21) failed to discover this defect in VCAT cases. That is a 100% failure rate on a structural defect… and a few of these building consultants were not required to comply with the over-the-top regulations associated with workers compensation insurance.

The certifying Building Inspectors did nothing to alert the builders to this failing. Nearly all building supervisors invariably miss this defect, and at least 80% of building consultants (company employees & bosses under strict OH&S rules, WorkSafe Regulations and Workers Compensation Insurance Rules), are not permitted to even enter the roof space to find out up close, whether or not fixings comply with the code’s minimum requirements for long-term stability.

AS Code 4440 (2004) Installation of Nail-Plated Timber Roof Trusses lays down strict rules on their installation… verticality, tie-downs, bracing, bracket types and minimum fixing requirements are all stated on the layout plan.

What an abysmal state of affairs... and so to the stories (VCAT so no names).

STORY ONE… New Home – Melbourne… Gable Roof… Tiled… 6 Years Old.

The new home had two longitudinal 20 mm deep dips running full-length of each side of the roof. The Building consultant insisted that the structural engineer climb onto the roof to see the problem. He did so with some trepidation.

The building consultant bobbed up and down just twice in quick succession… and the whole roof vibrated noticeably approximately 20 times. The structural engineer nearly had a fit.

Diagnosis: Failure would eventually occur within 10 years because of long-term creep giving rise to excessive bowing.

The causes (although it had been passed by certifying building inspector, building supervisor):
• Out-of-verticality of several pairs and runs of trusses in a row
• Half nailing of battens & incorrect bracing
• Bottom chord bracing too far apart
• Ceiling lining popped nails
• Inadequate stumping pulling down some trusses via the wall stays.
STORY TWO… New Home - Northern Victoria… Approximately 3 years Old… Tiled Hipped Roof.

Clients changed their minds and changed from a Colorbond corrugated roof and paid more (usually cheaper we understand) for a dark tiled roof as a variation before house commencement on site… BUT BUILDER FORGOT TO RE-ORDER THE TRUSSES FOR THE MORE THAN DOUBLED LOADS.

Four individual long truss failures at that point in time… partial collapse likely in just a few years. VCAT awarded the replacement of the longest 12 trusses.

STORY THREE… 40 Year-old 1970’s Home - Melbourne… Gable Tiled Roof / Brick veneer timber floor / Oregon trusses made on site (in-situ).

Large oak 8 metres from front of house had caused the front reinforced footing to rotate outwards so that the wall tilted outwards 220mm… very close to collapsing.

Trusses were sagging / truss plates giving a little but not fully separated / bracing was grossly inadequate to bottom plates and not fixed to top plates / nail tie-downs to top plates / Trusses with just 4 webs instead of 8 / trusses spaced 1200 mm apart considered far too far for tiled roof.

Amazing deformation of each truss 250 mm northward top chord bow at west side central point / 175 mm southward top chord bow at east side central point.

Minimum work required (worth approximately $100 000):

• Move furniture out and disconnect electricity
• Remove all gutters and downpipes
• Removal of entire roof / ceilings / ceiling (Insulfluff) insulation
• Removal of entire front wall and footing
• Reinstatement of new trusses @ 600mm centres
• New tiled roof
• New ceilings throughout plus new insulation
• Electrical re-connection
• Return gutters and downpipes or replace
• Re-paint to suit
• Remove debris from site

IT IS NOT WORTH IT to do nothing about a defective trussed roof… particularly a tiled one... but most building consultants do not do so.

And so a firm of at least 4 structural engineers carries out full time, expert reports (on request from worried building consultants and home owners), on non-compliant (often failing) trussed roofs we understand.

Do you think that it might therefore be worth it to hire a sole trader building consultant WHO ACTUALLY GETS ON AND INTO THE ROOF AND SEARCHES FOR COMPLIANCE OF TRUSS INSTALLATIONS UP CLOSE… BEFORE YOU BUY YOUR POST-1994 HOME (1994 being when the standard of house construction started to fall dramatically)?

Employee building consultants are not permitted to get close enough to check 80% up to 95% of the structure if you hire them. This is one very important reason why they can never be expert... because of the lack of experience... no matter how many years they have been inspecting..

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Did You Know (S):


Painting, when well done, lasts far longer than 2 years… ask the manufacturers.

Official definitions of defect and The Guide to Standards and Tolerances do not place a high regard on time related issues relating to new building work.

VMIA Domestic Building Warranty Insurance (DBI) says that it covers defects (structural for 6 years and 2 years for the rest (including paintwork).

NOTE the lack of a “W” in DBI… this is because there virtually is no warranty.

VMIA pays very little and often NIL on any defects, fighting its policy holders all the way in the likelihood that they will give up the chase for the defects they allege are present in their new homes, units, additions and renovation work.

And boy are there defects!.. an average of over $25 000 in new homes we say... see previous articles if you don't believe us.

As regards alleged paint defects and the 2 year warranty in The Guide To Standards and Tolerances… it’s bunkum for several reasons that most building consultants have not gone to the trouble to ferret out… because they do not have a thorough definition of defect, and have never really thought about it in depth.


• It is applied in an untradesmanlike manner (as distinct from unworkmanlike manner where thorough building science knowledge must also be heeded). This includes good quality materials suited to the application, even spread of paint and suchlike,
• the preparation is inadequate for what is being coated (lacks proper under-coat(s) to protect (say) external non-durable timber for a reasonable amount of time)… (and the fact that the oil-based priming was not done does not make this an incomplete item but a defect),
• the surface temperature of the material being coated is below 10 degrees Celsius (read the tin)

Sometimes a painting expert from the Master Painters Association may be necessary to prove unworkmanlike, but painting experts do exist.

So in VCAT, paint defects over 2 years old can often be correctly claimed; and appealed where the VCAT Member relies incorrectly on what is stated in the Guide to Standards and Tolerances… which is often incorrect due to lack of adequate consideration for time related factors and sometimes based on a lack of adequate building science.

VBAG knows of many VCAT cases where appeals have been won when The Guide to Standards and Tolerances was challenged by real experts.

Some of you may know that acrylic paint breathes… that moisture can pass (each way) through the paint.

That is why when the builder in his (lack) of wisdom uses in exposed areas materials clad in or made of non-durable timber, he must also allow for the proper oil-base priming under the acrylic top coats, in order to render the timber adequately protected… we would suggest for a minimum of 7 years… not 2 years.

The project specifications produced by MBA and HBA have been watered down so much on detailed workmanship clauses (the labour 45% of the job), that we now have extremely inadequate standards looking after our building work.

The cost of repairing is so much more than the cost that it would have been to correctly prime this window with oil-based primer. The builder (via his short-cutting or ignorant painter) inexpertly used a non-permitted 'performance solution' and created this DEFECT in a similar manner that the relevant building surveyor / specifier / builders used flammable cladding where it was not permitted based on inexpertise.

All such experts have been incorrect and therefore negligent. You wouldn't know it from the complete lack of law suits and lack of de-registrations.

The same thing applies to incorrectly classified soil for thousands of waffle pod slab homes in the outer western and north western suburbs of Melbourne... and occurred because of the loosely defined word "expert" in basic clause in our National Construction Code (1.0.5(c) in Volume 2 (new homes) & A.0.5(c) in Volume 1(apartments)...


Instead, it has cost home owners and apartment owners billions of dollars... and it's still there, thanks to COAG and their advisors.


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Consumer Protection Reform Strategy Fails. Dodgy shonky bad builders prevail.

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Why the Consumer Protection Reform Strategy Fails and dodgy shonky bad builders prevail. By Anne Paten Sourceable 15 July 2015 LINK: https://sourceable.net/why-the-consumer-protection-reform-strategy-fails 88 people shared this article No 10 of Top 10 articles for July 2015 It is clear that the Domestic Building Consumer Protection Reform Strategy was created as a mirage, to give a … Read more

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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.