Building and Construction

VCAT hears and decides cases about building disputes.

The dispute may be between a property owner, builder, sub-contractor, architect, warranty insurer, engineer or other building practitioners – or any of them.

There is no limit on the amount of money that can be claimed.

If your matter concerns an application to prevent another party from doing something or compelling another party to do something and it is urgent you can apply for an injunction by completing the relevant section in the application form.

Cases VCAT can hear

  • claims about domestic building works
  • applications by owner-builders for an exemption from the requirement to provide warranty insurance when selling a home
  • claims about commercial building works
  • claims for money owed under contracts for building works
  • reviews of decisions by home warranty insurers
  • applications by licensed plumbers that a plumbing rectification notice be cancelled
  • Before you apply to VCAT you should contact the other party and see if you can settle the dispute between you. The Victorian Building Authority or Consumer Affairs Victoria may be able to provide advice and assistance. Before making an application to VCAT you must ensure you can identify the correct name of the person or company who is the respondent in your case, including their postal address, contact details and ABN or ACN if relevant. Contact ASIC to confirm company status and address. Read more about what to do before you apply to VCAT.

  • To start your application to VCAT fill in the correct application form. You must also pay the application fee. If you are claiming against a company, you must provide formal documents from ASIC showing the company's status and registered address. Read more in apply to start a case.

  • When you apply, we send a copy of your application and the supporting documents to each respondent. The other party may have a claim against you and they may be able to make a counterclaim. We may list your case for mediation, hearing or a directions hearing. After receiving your application we may contact you for more information. Learn about what happens when VCAT opens a case.

  • We encourage you to negotiate with the other party to try to reach agreement. We can help you resolve your dispute by agreement with the other party using mediation or a compulsory conference rather than by VCAT deciding your case for you at a hearing. If we tell you to attend a compulsory conference or mediation, you need to prepare an opening statement. Use the opening statement to clearly state your case. It can be a helpful starting point for discussion between the parties. Learn more about resolving a case by agreement.

  • Many cases at VCAT are decided at a hearing. Prepare early so you can present the best possible case. Make sure you give others enough time to help you prepare or to appear as witnesses at the hearing. For information to help you prepare for the hearing, see how to prepare for your final hearing.

  • Arrive at VCAT with plenty of time so that you are not late for your hearing. When your case is called, move into the hearing room and wait for the member to open your case. At a final hearing, we consider the evidence originally presented with the application, as well as any additional evidence that you or the other party may have provided to VCAT. Sometimes the member may want to visit the site of the building works. In these cases the hearing may be adjourned to a later hearing date. Read more about what happens on final hearing day.

  • The VCAT member may give their decision at the end of the hearing. If they need more time they usually give a decision within six weeks of the last hearing date or the date when any further written submissions are filed with us. The VCAT member may give reasons for the decision verbally or in writing. If the decision has been given verbally, and you want the reasons in writing, you must make the request within 14 days of the hearing date. Read more about what to expect after the final hearing.

Professional representation at VCAT

You do not have to have legal or other professional representation to appear at VCAT. In many of these type of cases all parties are represented by agreement. If you are represented by a legal or other professional representative, we will only communicate with them. Read more about professional representation at VCAT.

Remember your reference number

VCAT gives you a reference number for your case. Use this number whenever you call or write to us or the other people involved in the case.

Access and privacy

VCAT hearings and files are usually public.

VCAT has limited authority to restrict who can access cases and files but, in certain circumstances, you can apply for confidentiality. Learn more about applying for confidentiality.

If you need assistance at VCAT (including interpreters, hearing loop, video or telephone links or family violence support) please tell us as early as possible so we can support you. Learn more about customer support at VCAT.

Legislation that applies to this case

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998

Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995

Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012

Building Act 1993

Domestic Building Contracts Regulations 2007