Don’t Get Stung! Understanding Building Offences and Penalties in Victoria (Victoria Readership)
By Lovegrove & Cotton – Construction and Planning Lawyers
The Building Act 1993 (“the Act”) sets the maximum penalties that apply to persons found guilty of building and plumbing offences in Victoria. In 2010, the Building Amendment Act 2010 dramatically increased the maximum penalties for certain building and plumbing offences; some of these are listed below.
Carrying out works without a permit
Under the Building Act, a person must not carry out works unless a building permit in respect of the work has been issued. The penalty for carrying out building works without a permit or in contravention of a permit is 500 penalty units for an individual, and 2,500 penalty units for a company.
As of 1 July 2013, a penalty unit is now set at $144.36, so a total maximum penalty for this contravention amounts to $72,180.00 for an individual, and $360,900.00 for a company.
Carrying out works without the required insurance
Under the Act a building practitioner (other than a domestic builder) must not carry out work as a building practitioner, or must not carry out or manage or arrange the carrying out of domestic building work under a major domestic building contract unless the builder has the required domestic builder insurance. The penalty for carrying out building works without insurance is also 500 penalty units for an individual, and 2,500 penalty units for a company.
Occupying a building or part of a building without an occupancy permit
Under the Act, the penalties for occupying a building or part of a building before a required occupancy permit has been issued for the building or that part of the building is 120 penalty units for an individual ($17,323.20), and 600 penalty units for a company ($86,616.00). An occupancy permit is an acknowledgement that the works are safe and fit for occupation but does not indicate that works are defect free under a Contract.
Carrying out building works where protection works are required
Under the Act, carrying out building works where protection works are required but before the protection works are agreed or otherwise determined attracts penalties of 500 penalty units for an individual, and 2,500 penalty units for a company. These penalties generally attach to the owner of the subject land, not the building practitioner carrying out the works,
The imposition of penalties under the Act is aimed to improve the operation of the building sector by increasing compliance with building and occupancy permits, to act as a determent to misconduct and to protect the community.
Noting that these penalties have the potential to increase by subsequent legislation, if you’ve been undertaking building and plumbing works in contravention of the Act, you run the risk of being prosecuted under the Act, and emptying your pockets.