This audit assessed the effectiveness of the consumer protection framework for domestic building construction. The audit examined the performance of Victorian Building Authority (VBA), Building Practitioners Board (BPB), Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) and Victorian Managed Insurance Authority (VMIA) as they provide functions key to building regulation and to the consumer protection framework in domestic building.
The audit found that the existing consumer protection framework for domestic building does not adequately protect consumers who experience problems and there is a pressing need to improve consumer awareness and understanding of the framework. The registration system does not ensure that the only practitioners who are registered are those who are qualified, competent and of good character. The current disciplinary system is not operating effectively to protect consumers, and the sanctions are ineffective in deterring practitioner misconduct.
Building conciliation and dispute resolution functions provide only limited consumer protection because CAV lacks both the power to compel parties to conciliate or to enforce compliance with outcomes negotiated during conciliation. Domestic building insurance is widely misunderstood. It provides only limited protection for consumers and is significantly more costly for builders and consumers than it needs to be.
The report makes recommendations to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, VBA, BPB, CAV, Department of Treasury and Finance and VMIA to improve the framework and its implementation. Prompt action is required to ensure domestic building consumers are appropriately protected.