The Victorian Building Authority issued the following advice late in 2018 relating to roles and responsibilities regarding directions to fix building work. Whilst the information is directed at Building Surveyors and Builders, it is important that members are aware of these requirements.
Relevant Building Surveyors (RBS) must refer Directions to Fix (DTF) to the VBA within seven days of the end of the required compliance period. Each referral is then assessed by the VBA and, if found enforceable, may result in the builder facing disciplinary action and/or prosecution in relation to their failure to comply with the DTF. For more information, refer to the DTF article in the July issue of VBA Mail, which is featured below:
A large proportion of directions to fix (DTF) referred to the VBA by relevant building surveyors are being found to be unenforceable.
Data gathered by the VBA shows that a range of issues, including simple oversights and poor administration and paperwork, are responsible for the high number of DTFs that have been closed for being unenforceable.
In the period from November 2017 to February 2018, 47 DTFs were referred to the VBA. 35 were deemed unenforceable for a range of reasons, while the remainder were still under assessment at that time.
Find out more about the requirements for DTFs by reading VBA Practice Note 70-2018.
At present, most DTF referrals received by the VBA do not explain how an RBS will compel a builder to rectify non-compliant building work.
However, the VBA envisages that an RBS will place matters of non-compliant work from the DTF into a Building Notice or Order to bring about compliance. (A copy of this Building Notice or Order should be included with the DTF referral as evidence of the action.)
If there is any change of circumstances regarding the site or the building work to which the DTF relates, please notify the VBA, so we can take those matters into consideration.
If a builder receives a written DTF, they can:
1. Comply with the DTF within the specified time and advise the RBS of this.
2. Request additional time to comply before the compliance period expires (if required) – the RBS may grant this if they consider it appropriate to do so.
3. Ask the RBS to revoke the DTF before it expires – if they are, or become, unable to comply with the written DTF. (For further information, refer to VBA Practice Note 70-2018.)
4. Appeal – a builder may appeal to the Building Appeals Board against the RBS’s decision to issue the written DTF within seven days of the date of issue.
5. Request a stay if the matter is with Domestic Building Disputes Resolution Victoria – advise the RBS if this is the case.
Failure to respond to a written DTF within the specified timeframe will result in the RBS referring the DTF to the VBA for assessment. If found enforceable, the builder may face disciplinary action and/or prosecution for failing to comply (the maximum penalty is 500 penalty units in the case of an individual).
The RBS may consider further enforcement action following referral of the DTF to the VBA. Matters in the referred DTF may be placed into a Building Notice or Order and served on the property owner.