Updated 15 June 2020
If you are involved in a building dispute, it is essential that you identify the right person or entity as the builder in any complaints or legal proceedings. Identifying the correct builder is your first step if you want to take a building dispute to Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria (DBDRV) and/or the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
This resource answers the following questions:
To take a building dispute to VCAT, you must first have tried to resolve the dispute at DBDRV. If you don’t know where to start, have a look at our resource on “Where should I start if I have a problem with my builder” by clicking here.
Listing the wrong person as the builder on your DBDRV application can delay your efforts to resolve the dispute.
The consequences of listing the wrong person as the builder on your VCAT application can be much greater.
Homeowners often identify the wrong party as the builder by assuming that:
These assumptions are not always correct and can cause you to list the wrong party in an application to DBDRV or VCAT.
In a domestic building dispute, the builder is the party who carried out, managed or arranged the domestic building work that is the subject of the dispute (or the person intended to carry out, manage or arrange that work).
To identify your builder correctly, you should check the name of the person listed as the “builder” in any of the following documents related to the building works in dispute:
You should always keep a copy of any contract you sign.
However, you may not have the contract for the building works in dispute if you purchased the property from another person who contracted the builder.
In that case, you may find the relevant domestic building contract in the documents included as part of the vendor’s section 32 statement in the contract of sale.
If you do not have a copy of the building permit for the building works in dispute, you can request a copy from the Building Surveyor who approved the works or from your local council.
You can find the details of your local council on the rates notice for your property.
Please note that if a building permit exists, the building surveyor and your local council are not obliged to give you access to it, and may charge you an administrative fee to give you a copy.
Builders in Victoria are required to have domestic building insurance (DBI) for any works that cost $16,000 or more. This insurance covers homeowners for incomplete or defective building work carried out on their property.
If you don’t know if a builder obtained a DBI certificate of insurance for building works at your property, or if you don’t have a copy of if, you can ask the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority (VMIA). VMIA’s website is available by clicking here.
When reviewing the building contract, building permit and DBI certificate, double check the name of the person or entity listed as ‘the builder’, and make sure you cross reference all names, ACNs and ABNs listed to check that they match.
Make sure you list the correct builder in your application to DBDRV or VCAT. If you are not sure about who the builder is, you should obtain legal advice.
The builder could be a natural person (a human being) or another legal entity (for example a company)
If the builder listed in your documents is a company, they will have a 9 digit Australian Company Number (ACN) that you can search on ASIC Connect by clicking here. If you are making an application to DBDRV or VCAT against a company, you should include a copy of the ASIC search in your application
If the builder listed on your documents has both an ACN and an Australian Business Number (ABN), the last 9 digits of the ABN should match the 9 digits ACN. You can do an ABN search on ABN Lookup by clicking here.