For many home owners, building a house is the biggest project they will undertake; and for builders, these projects are their livelihood.
In April 2016, the Building Legislation Amendment (Consumer Protection) Act 2016 was passed to strengthen the domestic building consumer protection framework. One of the key reforms was the establishment of Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria (DBDRV), a new dispute resolution service which commenced operation in April 2017. This free service was established to help builders and home owners resolve their disputes, without the cost and time often associated with courts and tribunals.
DBDRV is an independent agency that conciliates disputes between builders and homeowners. Replacing Building Advice and Conciliation Victoria, the DBDRV operates under a new legislative scheme, with expanded powers and a broader scope, including the authority to issue binding orders. These include orders to compel builders to fix or finish work, or force owners to pay their bills.
Under this new service, accredited and trained dispute resolution officers are assisted by independent building experts to help parties reach an agreed resolution. As a mandatory conciliation service, DBDRV aims to significantly reduce the number of claims submitted to other agencies, such as the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). Over 1,500 applications for DBDRV’s dispute resolution service were received by 30 June 2017.
For more information, visit the DBDRV website.
The Victorian Government also established the Domestic Building Legal Service (DBLS), a no-cost legal advice service for eligible Victorian domestic building consumers in need of special assistance. DBLS, which commenced in July 2017, is delivered by not-for-profit community legal centre Justice Connect, with the assistance of pro bono legal practitioners.
For more information, visit the DBLS section on the Justice Connect website.