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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Bob the bad builder

Fatal Floors, Dangerous decks.

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HISTORY & THEORY POINT TO COAG DOING NOTHING USEFUL TO IMPROVE THE RESIDENTIAL BUILDING INDUSTRY FOR CONSUMERS.
The Federal Government's record job creation might be explained by this...

Australians will have to make COAG improve the rights of building consumers via actual improvements to legislation, because COAG still haven't stopped the flammable cladding coming into Australia via their new code. The Lacrosse Tower fire was 3 years ago.

The Victorian Government has name-changed their main building authority from Building Control Commission to Building Commission to Victorian Building Authority.

And COAG has name changed the most important code in Australia… the Building Code of Australia to the National Construction Code… with virtually no pictures of typical construction appearing in the rather large code. It has also changed Alternative Solution to Performance Solution we reckon just to make us think that they have done something useful.

There's a theory going around that the economy goes just as well with poor quality imported materials and short-cutting going on, because of the extra jobs created by the necessity to re-clad and make repairs to the defects created by poor supervision and lack of caring rife in the residential building industry... all of which makes the building industry even bigger... alas to the detriment of home owners with a resultant drop in consumer expenditure on retail, leisure and tourism.

You might have seen the recent Federal Government boast of creating record jobs... but the jobs are increasingly part-time and many will need to be in the often wasteful building maintenance industry trying to keep up with the rapidly increasing number of defects creating havoc... such as garage ceilings coming away, silicone failing around showers and countless roof pointing re-dos. Let's take the typical example of re-pointing of the roof tiles required because it has already failed on the 8 years old new home...

TROUBLE IS the tradie who quotes to put back what has failed (the same way that failed prematurely), beats the tradie who quotes 70% more to rectify the cause of the failure (the pointing applied far too thinly)... because the home owners know no different. Hence the labour is doubled due to having to 'fix' it more than twice as frequently... and WE HAVE MORE JOBS... many CREATED BY WASTEFULNESS, IGNORANCE AND INADEQUATE LEGISLATION because nobody knows what a defect is.

It also might explain why despite this extra job creation, there is less consumer spending being felt by the retail Industry pre-Christmas.

The Victorian Government has also retained what could well be by far the worst insurance for policy holders in the western world… the VMIA (government-owned) or domestic building warranty insurance authority. By cutting back over 99% of what it used to cover, it doesn’t regulate builders any more. The VBA seems to fail to regulate builders as well.

And following the whistle-blowing by the Victorian Ombudsman in 2013 that building consumers were spending $1.9 Billion each year fighting their builders over their defect-riddled new homes (a figure that VBAG is almost certain rose to $3 Billion by the end of 2014… and very close to $6 Billion by the end of 2016)… each time being ‘the largest single cost item facing Australian home owners’.

This would have been most embarrassing for the government. Even the ABC broadcast the embarrassing figure, even though they failed dismally to address its cause.

The Victorian Government, after sacking the ombudsman… (we are fairly certain because of his whistle-blowing and not for the bullying charge as was stated)… created a new repressive compulsory conciliation (head-banging) first-stop process for all disputes, called the DBDRV… so as “to expedite all disputes” (make them go away as quickly as possible)… presided over by people who do not have a thorough definition of defect as is the case with VCAT and was the case with the new authority’s predecessor the BACV… which many of you readers would have found out had no teeth… similar to Consumer Affairs.

In the short-term, it will most likely save many home owners and builders money in the VCAT system (particularly fighting over claims between $10 000 and $30 000)…

AND in the short-term, it will very likely substantially reduce the $3 Billion - $6 Billion cost to home owners annually (and a similar amount for builders)… which VBAG says is why the VIC government created this authority… not to cure the poor quality of new houses (the actual cause of the disputes), but simply to erase this embarrassing figure from the tabloids.

BUT…

The DBDRV will almost certainly pave the way for far more defects in new homes to be band-aided by their builders instead of being rectified properly… and only those defects which can be cheaply band-aided. (We estimate that each year a further $6 Billion worth of defects are left in new homes after the end of their warranty period.

From a wealth of VCAT cases we know about, it is virtually the only reason that any defects are agreed to at all by the majority of builders. Larger items are simply denied as being defects… courtesy of the lack of a thorough definition.

We are almost certain that builders have been fed this story line… ‘that if you bluff and negate long enough, your home owner clients will very likely eventually give up’.

We wouldn’t be surprised if their legal advisors fed them this line as well… because in its first year in 2001, the BACV made it public that it was successful in making 81% of potential disputes vanish… just on the phone.

VBAG keeping building consumers well informed.
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NON-CARING GOVERNMENTS IS THE ORDER OF THE DAY

For 21 years now there has been an authority in charge of the residential building industry in Victoria.

The authority was first called:-
• The Building Control Commission… and in 2001 became…
• The Building Commission… and is now called…
• The Victorian Building Authority (which incorporates the Building Practitioners Board and The Plumbing Commission).

The duty of this authority was to re-vamp the industry and raise the standard of the entire residential building industry through its policies and improvements to standards and the quality of housing generally.

It has failed miserably! There's not even a thorough definition of defect.

It took 20 years before this authority pointed out that particleboard used as structural flooring under ceramic tiles for outside balconies was simply not acceptable? There wasn’t a word until last year (2016)… and it still isn’t incorporated into the National Construction Code… Oh yeah, until 2016 this was called The Building code of Australia.

And regarding safety issues:-
1. Why were safety switches only required in new houses in Victoria since 1991 but not in houses built prior to that… say with a 5 year deadline?
2. And why were wired-direct smoke detectors only made compulsory for new homes from 1997 onwards in Victoria (with only battery types needed for homes being extended)… BUT NO REQUIREMENT for existing homes unless they were up for sale or being rented?

There are also serious concerns by experts in the industry regarding at least:-
• Imported flammable external cladding used on well over 500 multi-storey buildings Australia-wide installed without the necessary or adequate built-in fire equipment to avoid fires (and it’s not just the worst type of Alucobest that is flammable the CSIRO says).
• Imported steel with different structural properties from our AS Codes
• Imported ‘safety’ glass that is not regarded as safe by real experts due to incorrect testing methods used
• Imported exploding glass (multi-storey apartment balustrades)
• Imported ‘Infinity’ electrical cabling in thousands of multi-storey buildings that becomes unsafe prematurely
• Imported cheaper coating material systems with installation requirements being short-changed as regards waste water disposal resulting in enormous maintenance bills ($Billions) to Australians due to rapid failure rates.

Are these (import) problems so mind-bogglingly large and costly, that they have deliberately been ignored or have they been put into the too-hard basket so as to avoid taking on the importers?

And are the hidden causes… (poor workmanship due to inadequate supervision and lack of a definition of defect and lack of an overseer insurer for builders)… going to be ignored forever for the $3 Billion dollars annual expenditure by home owners who try to get their builders to rectify their shoddily built defect-riddled homes.

Recent reforms (first stop Compulsory Conciliation) are not going to result in defects being rectified, but simply band-aided… because Conciliators do not have a thorough definition of defect (if they have a definition at all) and have as their main driver the need to expedite the disputes.

In fact no government body or inspector or conciliator or VCAT member has a thorough definition of defect.

And conciliators do not even have to be registered building practitioners it seems. No kidding… they just have to be a person… so monkeys and parrots are not permitted.

Would you want a conciliator (say solicitor) deciding what is / is not a defect?

VMIA Domestic Building Warranty Insurance is only insuring new home owners for builders who walk away or die or become bankrupt during construction.

The VIC government insurer VMIA actually fights you on anything related to poor workmanship because they know most of you will give up and because there is a serious lack of proper definitions in contracts & Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995 which they exploit against your inept building consultants.

VBAG keeping building consumers (and anyone about to build) informed.
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MANY UNIT DEVELOPMENTS ARE NOT SUSTAINABLE AT ALL.

Over and over again we see 2-unit or 3-unit developments passed by all of our councils... where one of the many criteria for the developments being approved is that the development must be sustainable.

But usually the only sustainable part of such developments is that the land is home to more people... well potentially more people anyway... and certainly more family entities. Invariably we also see a perfectly good 3 or 4 bedroom brick veneer 15 square home removed along with the double garage; and this is replaced by two or three two bedroom (plus small study) units.

And there is no slow removal with cleaning of the bricks, no slow removal of the roof tiles for re-use. Gutters, downpipes and fascias are ripped off. And there is no painstaking removal of the windows and framing for re-use... because that takes time... and time is profit.

Instead, there is an excavator which tears and bashes the roof and veneer off and rips the frame apart... often in less than a day... with great wastage the result... because time is of the essence... and there is great profit to be made.

To hell with the wastage... and if you object, the hired town planner used to deliver the report for the builder in VCAT is able to state that the development generally complies with the (sustainable) objective, because greater utilizing of the land is more important than turning a perfectly good house into rubbish.

Just imagine how many people could be employed by creating an industry using second-hand building materials… and how much less wastage there would be as a result. Bricks could be re-used as paving, framing and the roof tiles could be re-used for garages, sheds... and even houses on some projects... and so on.

Or encouragement could be given to the bricks being taken off and the house moved to a new location for struggling new families.

Isn't that what sustainable means?.. Making certain that there will be sufficient materials for future generations?

Well it's not happening, because council town planners are being forced to accept denser and denser developments because the State Governments sections (11), 16 and 19 of each council town planning scheme requires that the developments promote a wider array of housing types... and credit is given to those that house more family entities, encouraging greater utilisation of land and existing infrastructure.
Absolutely nothing is said about the extending upwards of lamp-posts for an extra run of high voltage wires and its possible effects on peoples’ health via the resultant magnetic fields being over the world health limits.

The government has to have more people to keep the economy afloat by virtue of the fact that we manufacture very little in Australia any more.

Even if councils fight on behalf of the nearby residents shocked at what will be a veritable wall of units blocking one of their main views, and likely to shade considerable portions of their previous sun-lit back yards for large chunks of the day, VCAT will invariably weigh up the relative merits of such developments against the alternative which includes developing blocks out in the extremities of the city that increases congestion on our roads, placing added pressure on our existing infra-structure.

The Federal Governments’ perceived need for increasing our population for the sake of our economy causes great wastage... too bad.

And greater population requires more and more houses and units and apartments to be built in a never-ending spiral that makes the price of a house and land rise faster than our wages, making it harder and harder for our children to own their own home... in fact twice as hard every 35 years on average.

Is that sustainable??? VBAG thinks not.

We actually need new cities instead... if successive governments are hell-bent on our population rising in order to keep the building industry firing in order to prop up the economy.

The governments totally ignore the State Planning Policy Framework clause...
19.03.05 Waste and resource recovery Objective
To reduce waste and maximise resource recovery so as to minimise environmental, community amenity and public health impacts and reduce reliance on landfills.
VBAG keeping building consumers informed.
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DID YOU KNOW (I)? THE NATIONAL CONSTRUCTION CODE DOESN'T EVEN HAVE BASIC TYPICAL DETAILS OF BUILDING CONSTRUCTION.

The National Construction Code and before it the Building Code of Australia have, between 1996 and 2016, removed virtually all of its construction details.

We are talking about typical details that explain flashings, slab details, eave details, typical wet area details at showers… details that that would serve to inform all Australians just how buildings are supposed to be put together.

This goes hand-in-hand with the lack of detailed clauses in specifications… clauses that describe what fiddly work needs to be done for work to be considered workmanlike and likely to perform to reach a reasonable life expectancy whilst continuing to resist the forces of nature.

Volume 2 of the National Construction Code id supposed to cover construction requirements relating to new houses, units, garages, sheds and the like.

Although many of these details were incorporated into the Building Code of Australia in 1996, at least the following vital descriptive details are missing:
• Typical detail at wall tiles meeting shower bases for water-proofing
• Detail of typical brick veneer wall where meeting concrete slab
• Detail of typical brick veneer wall where doorway meets concrete slab
• Detail of typical brick veneer wall at window opening – head (flashings)
• Detail of typical brick veneer wall at window opening – sill (flashings)
• Detail of typical brick veneer wall where meeting timber floor
• Detail of typical brick veneer wall where doorway meets timber floor
• Detail of typical eaves construction tiled roof over brick veneer
• Detail of typical eaves construction metal pitched roof over brick veneer
• Detail of typical eaves construction flat metal roof over brick veneer

This detail may be in construction manuals such as AS 3700, the code for wet areas AS 2570 and the like, how many builders, sub-contractors, draftspersons are likely to purchase these from the privatized company SAI Global for $300 each do you think.

Documenters are going to rely on the experience in the industry to solve these difficult to build sections of the new homes, units, out-buildings and additions.

But this knowledge of what needs to be done will be no different in the long-term than it was regarding specifications, where from about 1985 onwards, important clauses describing how difficult detailed work had to be done for it to be considered workmanlike, were done away with until in about 1994, many in the building industry no longer knew how those difficult works were supposed to be done, or did not care sufficiently due to their wages being screwed down.

Today workmanlike manner (one of the warranties in every building contract) is to most people the quality of work executed by the average tradesperson.

WELL THAT THINKING IS NOWHERE NEAR GOOD ENOUGH.

Most work carried out for builders today is full of short-cuts, with many stages of work left undone; and often fails to comply with minimum requirements of manufacturers.

All of this is a result of inadequate specifications and detailing in our commonly used codes… and is unforgivable in our most used National Construction Code.

Freeing up of restrictions wherever possible is responsible for so much of the enormous damage being done to building consumers by builders employing supervisors who are either over-worked and/or deficient in the vital knowledge that would avoid so many defects being built into projects they oversee.

And VMIA will not police this atrocious situation and hold builders accountable because of our gutless and/or uncaring governments (see our previous article on signing contracts).

Our governments continue to dumb us down to the point of not being able to protest. Oppression via suppression of knowledge seems to be their motto.

VBAG keeping building consumers informed.
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Blog

Victoria’s building industry is failing consumers

September 3, 2016

Victoria’s building industry is failing consumers Fifth Estate 2 July 2015 Anne Paten, Victorian Building Action Group | 2 July 2015 The verdict on Victoria’s domestic building industry is in and on the public record. And it’s not pretty. The evidence of the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office Audit into Victoria’s Consumer Protection Framework for Building Construction … Read more

The Great Australian Dream: Spin, Lies and Fantasy

September 3, 2016

The Great Australian Dream: Spin, Lies and Fantasy 69 SHARED THIS Contributor: Anne Paten Published: 21 September 2015 Victoria’s ‘Great Australian Dream’ industry is supported and stimulated by spin, lies and fantasy. The building companies’ spin includes the ‘dream’ as a star fantasy feature. The standard slogans include ‘Build your Dream into Reality,’ ‘Create Your Dream … Read more

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

September 3, 2016

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

Was Australia’s Unaffordable Housing Crisis Avoidable?

September 3, 2016

Was Australia’s Unaffordable Housing Crisis Avoidable? Over recent decades, the price of Australia’s housing stock has continued to soar. Now in 2016, we have reached a crisis point where, for so many Australian families, the dream of owning their own home is no longer achievable. However, Australia’s ‘unaffordable housing syndrome’ did not happen inadvertently or … Read more

What Lies Ahead in Construction: Leadership or More Licentiousness?

September 3, 2016

What Lies Ahead in Construction: Leadership or More Licentiousness? Published in Sourceable 31 August 2015 143 people shared this article By Anne Paten Link: https://sourceable.net/what-lies-ahead-leadership-or-more-licentiousness It is clear that we have a major crisis in the Victorian building industry. Hundreds of thousands of Victorians are living in limbo, casualties of a blatantly non-compliant and completely … Read more

The Truth Behind the ‘Consumer Protection Reform Strategy’

September 3, 2016

                        The Truth Behind the                        ‘Consumer Protection Reform Strategy’ Anne Paten in Sourceable 6 July 2015 109 shares 23 Comments https://sourceable.net/the-myth-and-reality-of-the-consumer-protection-reform-strategy/ After the damaging Auditor-General’s Report of 2011 and the Ombudsman’s Report of … Read more

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.