13 Jul Exclusive: Victoria building industry ‘a wild west’ of non-compliance
Victoria’s building industry is in crisis with fresh allegations the government watchdog has failed to properly police the sector.
The sector has been described as “a wild west” with a Today and The Age special report finding dodgy approvals being green-lit across the board.
Today Melbourne reporter Christine Ahern joined forensic plumber Russell Kirkwood on a day on the job where several defects were found.
“It is blanket non-compliance – a wild west out there,” he said.
“Roof plumbers are doing whatever, certifying whatever they want to certify because there is nobody checking.”
Russell told Today it’s necessary for him to be on the building roof to assess the roof installation correctly and ensure it is compliant with regulations.
He said “there is no way” he could possibly do his job from the footpath outside the building.
But remarkably, that’s exactly what the state government regulator, the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) has been doing, Ahern confirmed.
The VBA said in a statement that when scaffolding is not in place at the time of an inspection, for safety reasons, inspectors don’t go on the roof.
They checked thousands of roofs each year comply to code by looking up from the footpath.
The apartments Russell checked with Ahern are now flooded so badly, mould and mushrooms grew inside.
The VBA inspected the roof nine months ago but no action has been taken against the builder.
Developer Chay Ryan told Today it “is devastating” for a new owner when their property is left in such a state.
“When you go through this process, you reach out to the authority asking for help and then when you feel the help does not treat you appropriately, it leaves you heart broken,” he said.
For apartment owner Darren Manolis-Cox, he forked over $12,000 only to discover halfway through his renovation who he thought was a registered builder was not a builder at all.
They had just added the word “Victoria” to the end of another legit company name.
The business owner claimed he never actually stated he is a builder and just contracts the work out.
But Darren has complained to Victoria Police and ASIC who referred him to the VBA and they were notified back in March.
“I’m not quite sure why it’s taking so long but this business continues to trade six days a week as an unregistered builder,” he said.
Following a 60 Minutes investigation into the building regulator in May, the CEO resigned but consumers say they have little hope for change.
The owner of another brand-new home Ahern visited in Geelong is still waiting for action after lodging a complaint in 2019 and the faults in the home were so bad, it had to be bulldozed.VIEW SOURCE ARTICLE