The Building Legislation Amendment Bill 2023

20 Mar 2023
The Building Legislation Amendment Bill 2023
The Building Legislation Amendment Bill 2023

On the 8/3/2023, the Building Legislation Amendment Bill was moved after it’s second reading in the Victorian Legislative Assembly. The Bill is intended to amend The Building Act 1993, Architects Act 1991 and other relevant legislation [1] for the purpose of “improving consumer protections for domestic consumers in the building industry”.[2]

Some of the more important factors in the Bill’s purpose are to:

  • Provide for the appointment of a Building Monitor. This role will operate as an advocate for consumers.
  • Formalise the role of a State Building Surveyor (SBS), and empower them to provide advice to surveyors, builders and plumbers as well as provide advice to regulatory oversights.
  • Insert an offence relating to building practitioners.
  • Require that relevant building surveyors give certain information to persons to whom building permits are issued.
  • Provide building manuals to be prepared and updated by owners and owners corporations in respect of certain buildings. This will contain the design, construction, and maintenance of the building.[3] The manual will also be a condition on the issuance of an occupancy permit by a Building Surveyor. [4]
  • Provide additional purposes for which money may be paid out of the Cladding Safety Victoria Account. [5]

The Strata Community Association (SCA) of Victoria President Julie McLean said of the bill:

“Today is an exciting day for strata communities and industry alike, as the first steps towards ensuring greater confidence in building quality and safety began to take shape”.

The bill has partly been the result of the government’s building system review panel, who’s report to the planning minister revealing poor construction which had led to unsafe buildings, was costing the industry billions and was not adequately protecting consumers.[6]

The Second reading Speech on the 08/03/2023 gave insight into the purposes and benefits of the Bill:

Appointment of a State Building Surveyor

This position will provide technical expertise through binding determinations on the interpretation of building and plumbing regulations, codes and standards. As a public authority, the State Building Surveyor must ensure that binding determinations are compatible with the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006.[7]

It also establishes a statutory position of a Building Monitor to collect, analyse and publish information, and provide advice to the Minister and others regarding systemic issues affecting domestic building consumers and to represent, at a systemic level, domestic building consumer interests.

The SBS was established by the Government as an executive staff member of the VBA to provide authoritative compliance advice, technical guidance, and interpretation of relevant building standards. [8]

This will enable greater focus on critical functions and thereby bolster support for industry practitioners. The SBS will be positioned as the primary source of technical expertise and guidance for the building and plumbing industries, and they will have the power to issue binding determinations relating to the technical interpretation of building and plumbing standards.

Building Manuals

The Government is committed to improving consumer confidence in the building industry and enhancing transparency. To this end, this Bill will amend the Building Act to introduce a requirement that a draft building manual be prepared by the applicant for an occupancy permit and provided to the relevant building surveyor for approval. Building manuals are intended to be a single repository of all relevant information relating to the design, construction, and ongoing maintenance of a building.

The building manual will address a significant hurdle for owners and owners corporations in accessing information about their building. By making information about the design, construction, and maintenance of a building more readily accessible, the building manual will aid not only owners and owners corporations but also other parties such as building practitioners and regulators in future.

Once the draft building manual has been approved by the relevant building surveyor, the manual will be provided to the owner or the owners corporation, who will be responsible for maintaining and keeping the documentation current.

Minor amendments are being made to the Owners Corporation Act and the Sale of Land Act to require that the building manual is provided at the first meeting of a new owners corporation and also to future purchasers of the land.

Subsequent amendments to the Building Regulations 2018 will prescribe a number of matters necessary to operationalise the building manual requirements, including what classes of buildings and building work will require a manual to be prepared or updated, the digital format of the manual, and the information that must be contained within a manual.[9]

Information Sharing

The Victorian building sector is made up of myriad agencies, each with an important role to play in maintaining a safe and well-regulated industry. The Government is taking steps to enhance the ability of these agencies to better share information and improve collaboration. By integrating building system information, clarifying information, sharing arrangements and making that information accessible through clear pathways, participating agencies will have the opportunity to aggregate data to better inform targeted and evidence-based decision making. This will also enable better transparency and reporting on the health of the building system.[10]

Key take outs

The proposed bill offers to strengthen consumer safeguards against defects and provide more safety, especially to those living in apartment buildings by offering clearer information and communication on important aspects of buildings. This is clearly demonstrated by the enthusiasm shown by President McLean of the SCA.

Strata communities have gone through a very challenging time in recent years with the headwinds of aluminium combustible cladding, remediation, and the emergence of a leaky building paradigm.

By introducing the building manual, property owners, and owners corporations will have visited upon them an ongoing obligation to update the manuals that shed light on the design construction and maintenance of the building and the manuals must at all time be readily available to Strata communities.

It is also significant that the issue of said manual is one of the prerequisites of the occupancy permit.

Great care will need to be taken to make sure the manual is updated and readily accessible and what could will be an additional benefit is for the legislation to promulgate that which stipulates where the manual must be located. While Clause 48(1) inserts a new section 261(1)(bc) which covers the power to make regulations in respect of these building manuals, (including how they are to be updated and how to provide access) more detailed information is necessary to determine if accessibility will be sufficient for the purposes of the Act.

It will also be useful if the location and ready availability of the instrument is accessible to not only the body corporate committee but every unit/strata owner.

When strata owners are endeavouring to ascertain whether a problem such as a building leak is on common property or individual unit derivation, traditionally it has often been challenging to access construction information that is germane to a diagnoses of the problem. The ready availability and easy access to the manual will make this forensic task much less onerous.

Future reforms-for consideration leaky building paradigm

With regards to future law reform, consideration must fully be given to following the Canadian approach with respect to leaky buildings, where building envelope specialists are required to be accredited to carry out building envelope inspections to ensure waterproofing integrity. With the rise in leaky building claims mindful of the events and costs associated with rectification of same, further legislative reform in the leaky arena is becoming a pressing matter, particularly with respect to strata communities.

The IBQC publication from September 2020 titled ‘Principles for Good Practice Building Regulation’ principle 6.4, made a similar recommendation of holding information concerning the “design documentation, including drawings and calculations” to be held in a “Building Specific Database”. These recommendations identified the need and give specifics on what information should be required if such concepts are legislated. This marries up well with the proposed Bill, and is consistent with international best practice in so far as it resonates with principle 6.4.

This is a Lovegrove and Cotton publication, authored by Cameron Wade, senior paralegal at Lovegrove and Cotton.


This article is not legal advice and discusses it’s topic in only general terms. Should you be in need of legal advice, please contact a construction law firm. The experienced team at Lovegrove & Cotton can help property owners and building practitioners resolve any type of building dispute.



[3] ABC Article, <>



[6] ABC Article, <>.

[7] Hansard Reports, <*&IW_FIELD_ADVANCE_PHRASE=&IW_FIELD_IN_SpeechTitle=Building+Legislation+Amendment+Bill+2023&IW_FIELD_IN_HOUSENAME=ASSEMBLY&IW_FIELD_IN_ACTIVITYTYPE=Statement+of+compatibility&IW_FIELD_IN_SittingYear=2023&IW_FIELD_IN_SittingMonth=March&IW_FIELD_IN_SittingDay=8>.

[8] Hansard Reports, <*&IW_FIELD_ADVANCE_PHRASE=be+now+read+a+second+time&IW_FIELD_IN_SpeechTitle=Building+Legislation+Amendment+Bill+2023&IW_FIELD_IN_HOUSENAME=ASSEMBLY&IW_FIELD_IN_ACTIVITYTYPE=Second+reading&IW_FIELD_IN_SittingYear=2023&IW_FIELD_IN_SittingMonth=March&IW_FIELD_IN_SittingDay=8>.

[9] Hansard Reports, <*&IW_FIELD_ADVANCE_PHRASE=be+now+read+a+second+time&IW_FIELD_IN_SpeechTitle=Building+Legislation+Amendment+Bill+2023&IW_FIELD_IN_HOUSENAME=ASSEMBLY&IW_FIELD_IN_ACTIVITYTYPE=Second+reading&IW_FIELD_IN_SittingYear=2023&IW_FIELD_IN_SittingMonth=March&IW_FIELD_IN_SittingDay=8>.

[10] Hansard Reports, <*&IW_FIELD_ADVANCE_PHRASE=be+now+read+a+second+time&IW_FIELD_IN_SpeechTitle=Building+Legislation+Amendment+Bill+2023&IW_FIELD_IN_HOUSENAME=ASSEMBLY&IW_FIELD_IN_ACTIVITYTYPE=Second+reading&IW_FIELD_IN_SittingYear=2023&IW_FIELD_IN_SittingMonth=March&IW_FIELD_IN_SittingDay=8>.