From 1 September 2016, your builder must give you a copy of the Domestic Building Consumer Guide before you sign a major domestic building contract.
The Domestic Building Consumer Guide is the contract information statement required by section 29A of the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995.
Most of the information referred to in the guide can be found within this section of our website, or via the links on this page.
Download the Domestic Building Consumer Guide (Word, 108KB).
Before you start your building work
The Victorian Building Authority (VBA) registers building practitioners and monitors their conduct and compliance with the building regulations.
For more information, visit the VBA's:
Your builder must also take out Domestic Building Insurance if the cost of the work is more than $16,000.
To check if a builder is eligible for Domestic Building Insurance, use the Builder Search on the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority website.
Appointing your builder
The builder must be a registered building practitioner and use a major domestic building contract if the work costs more than $5,000. Building work includes:
- building a house
- altering, renovating extending a house
- undertaking work such as landscaping, paving or constructing retaining structures, driveways, fencing, carports, garages, workshops, swimming pools or spas when building, repairing, renovating or extending a house
- installing lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, water supply, sewerage or drainage to the house or property
- demolishing or removing a house
- preparing plans and specifications for the work
- any work associated with building on residential-zoned land and for which a building permit is required, and
- any site work, including work to ensure access to the property.
By law, a major domestic contract must contain certain information, including a checklist of important things you should consider before signing the contract. For more information about major domestic building contracts, the checklist and changing a building contract once it has been signed, view our Building contracts page.
Download the Contract checklist (Word, 70KB)
Pre-construction contracts, such as preliminary agreements, are building contracts. If the cost of the work is over $5,000, the builder must use a major domestic building contract. For more information, view our Pre-construction building contracts page.
A written contract is a critical document in settling any dispute with your builder.
You should also consider getting independent legal advice before you sign a building contract. You should not accept a referral to a legal adviser from your builder. You can search for a legal adviser on the Getting out of a building contract checklist.
Appointing a building surveyor
From 1 September 2016, a builder who enters into a major domestic building contract, or a person who acts as a domestic builder for building work, must not appoint a private building surveyor on your behalf. Similarly, a private building surveyor cannot accept an appointment from a builder on your behalf.
A builder may recommend a private building surveyor, but you are free to appoint a private building surveyor of your choice. You can search for a private building surveyor on the Appointing a building surveyor page of the VBA website.
You can also engage a municipal building surveyor to act as your building surveyor.
During your building project
Role of your builder
Your builder must:
- be registered in the relevant class and category for the proposed work and use a major domestic building contract if the cost of the work is more than $5,000
- take out Domestic Building Insurance if the cost of the work is more than $16,000, and
- complete your building project to the standard and quality of work required by the building regulations and your plans and specifications.
Domestic Building Insurance only covers defects in limited circumstances.
For more information, view our:
If your building project requires a building permit, there are fines for your builder if they carry out your building work without a permit. You also face fines if you permit your builder to carry out your building work without a permit, if required.
Role of the surveyor
A building surveyor is professionally trained to understand the building permit process.
Building surveyors are responsible for checking that the building documentation and work complies with the building regulations and standards. For more information, visit the Appointing a building surveyor page on the VBA website.
You have an important role in checking the progress of your building project, paying for work when it is completed to the required standard at the agreed stages, and communicating your instructions and any concerns to your builder.
For more information on your rights and responsibilities, view our During construction checklist.
You are an owner builder if you:
- intend to use your own skills to build, extend or renovate your house
- intend to manage sub-contractors to do the work
- are a registered builder who builds, extends or renovates a home on your property.
For information on your role and responsibilities as an owner builder, view our:
If things go wrong
Statutory warranties and guarantees
When builders do building work, they must meet certain obligations set out in:
- warranties under the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995, and
- guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law.
For more information, view our:
Currently Consumer Affairs Victoria and the VBA jointly deliver a free domestic building dispute resolution service through Building Advice and Conciliation Victoria. You can contact the service on 1300 55 75 59 or download our Domestic building complaint (Word, 180KB).
A new Victorian Government service for resolving disputes between home owners and builders will begin in early 2017.
Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria (DBDRV) will be a free and independent service available to both builders and home owners. It will have powers to make binding orders on all parties to resolve disputes.
A home owner or a builder in a dispute will not be able to take the dispute to the Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal without first referring the dispute to DBDRV for conciliation. You will be able to lodge a dispute for resolution through the DBDRV website.