On 19 April 2016, a new piece of legislation designed to ‘restore confidence’ in the State’s $28 billion building industry, by tackling ‘longstanding flaws’ in the building system, received Royal Assent.
The legislation, which is aptly titled the Building Legislation Amendment “(Consumer Protection)” Act 2015 (Vic) has a clear emphasis on consumer protection. The legislation is the first tranche of a suite of intended reforms to Victoria’s building system. The legislation will take effect from 1 July 2017, and contains some notable changes for insurers, including:
- The establishment of a new dispute resolution process, run under the auspices of Consumer Affairs Victoria, to make it easier for consumers to bring (and resolve) domestic building disputes. The new regime will apply to certain types of disputes between residential owners, builders and building practitioners, sub-contractors and architects.
- The abolition of the Building Practitioners Board of Victoria, and the transferral of its registration and disciplinary powers to the Victorian Building Authority.
- The grounds for disciplinary action will be expanded, and a broader range of available sanctions introduced.
- The Victorian Building Authority will be responsible for promoting improved professional standards through the implementation of codes of conduct, to be formulated in consultation with industry.
- Changes to the manner in which building surveyors are appointed in order to ‘reinforce their independence’.