Over the last eighteen months we have seen significant changes to Victorian legislation which has a direct bearing on our profession and the construction industry as a whole.  Amendment bills have been introduced and passed altering the Architects Act, the Building Act, the Planning Act and the Heritage Act.  Now the Domestic Buildings Contracts Act 1995 (as amended) is being reviewed by government to ‘ensure it is fit for purpose and to strengthen protections for consumers while supporting the needs of the building industry’. While the Minister of Planning, with the Department of Transport and Planning are largely responsible for the aforementioned amended acts, it is the Minister of Consumer Affairs, supported by the Department of Government Services, that are responsible for the Domestic Building Contracts Act (DBC Act).


The purpose of the DBC Act is:

  • to regulate contracts for the carrying out of domestic building work
  • to provide for the resolution of domestic building disputes and other matters by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal
  • to require builders carrying out domestic building work to be covered by insurance in relation to that work.


Areas that are under consideration for change include:

  • threshold where domestic contracts are required
  • definition of owner paid deposits
  • applicability of cost escalation
  • use of fixed price and cost plus contracts
  • necessary content of model domestic contracts
  • progress payments
  • allowances for delays
  • statutory warranties
  • dispute resolution
  • contract termination


Refer to the Victorian Government website for further details:  Bear in mind that this Act lays the foundation for building contracts such as the Institute’s ABIC domestic contracts.  While the profession can modify and refine ABIC (in tandem with ABIC partner, the Master Builders’ Association), once legislated, the Act is set in stone until the next government review (bear in mind it is 28 years since promulgation of the 1995 version of the DBC Act) and so it is important that the profession respond to this opportunity.


The Institute’s Policy and Advocacy team is leading the preparation of a submission and to inform that submission has in the last few days undertaken two roundtable consultative conferences with members of Chapter Council, Practice of Architecture Committee and Senior Counsellors who have experience in the residential market.  The roundtable discussions have been forthright and informative with Paul Zanatta leading the Policy and Advocacy team’s formulation of a draft submission for further review by those members before finalisation.  There is a vast reservoir of domestic experience amongst members generally and it would be helpful for members operating in the residential field to review the government’s discussion paper and email commentaries to the Chapter:  Time is limited and contributions by members would need to be received by the Institute over the coming week to enable their consideration in our response paper which needs to be submitted to government later this month.


Subsequent modifications to this Act will effect all members operating in the domestic market, so this is an important opportunity to influence the potential changes to lay a good foundation for our residential work.  The opportunity is now.  Your involvement and contribution to the institute’s response is valuable and appreciated.


David Wagner FRAIA
President of the Victorian Chapter


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