01.02.2019

Faults in Building and Plumbing Work

VBA identifies 11 main categories of faults in building and plumbing work

by Amanda Hajj

In late 2016, a research project titled Responding to Faults in Building and Plumbing Work was started by the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) to which they have now concluded their findings based on their research and proposed conclusions to combat these faults. Whilst the report goes into great detail surrounding the faults, we will aim to summarise those that would be of particular interest to you, our members.

The VBA identified 11 main categories of faults and have ranked them based on risk as follows based on their likelihood to cause adverse social, economic or health effects to society:

1. Inadequate fire safety protection;
2. Inadequate water ingress protection;
3. Structural issues affecting safety and durability;
4. Deficiencies in protection work – adjoining property;
5. Incorrect assembly of gas systems or gas leaks (plumbing work);
6. Inadequate attention to protection of the public;
7. Dangers arising from demolition;
8. Deficient Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) and
Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ;
9. Deficient plumbing work (general);
10. Failure to deliver energy efficiency benefits;
11. Poor access for people with a disability.

Whilst this list seems extensive, concerns surrounding lack of, or poor-quality documentation in the planning and design phases of the build seem to be a common denominator amongst all eleven faults. In this report, the VBA has conceptualised active working responses to the top two listed faults whilst the remaining faults will be monitored through increased shared data analysis between regulatory bodies.

Issues Surrounding Documentation

  • The Building Permit Audit (2014) conducted by the VBA is referred to in this report as this highlighted that deficiencies in documentation clearly indicate non-compliance in both fire safety and water ingress protection.
  • When looking at structural issues as well as faults in delivering energy efficient benefits, the VBA state one of the causes to be poor-quality structural engineering and building permit documentation.
  • Whilst in regards to protection of the public, this report has labelled regulation 116 (formerly 604): Protection of the Public as ineffective due to its failure to mandate significant detail in documentation – the VBA still expect more from the documentation.
  • Although reform to Regulation 116 is called for, lack of detail, transparency and involvement from the public in building permit documentation has led to this fault accounting for 26 percent of all faults found.
  • Following this finding, whilst not mandated, the VBA have suggested for it to be good practice for all documentation to clearly include consideration surrounding protection of the public.

In response to the release of this report, here at the BDAV, we will be requesting to be active members of the two working groups which will be formed surrounding the top two ‘risky’ faults of fire safety protection and water ingress protection. Our main aim in being involved in these working groups is to not only support our members who are involved in documentation, but also to ensure we are able to keep you up to date with any changes in regulation or planning requirements which may come about.

Amanda Hajj is the BDAV’s Policy Officer.