Domestic building claims

Domestic building work is any work to erect, construct, renovate, improve, alter or repair a home. A home is any residential premises, including any part of a commercial building that is used as a residential premises.

If your domestic building dispute involves the home owner, in most cases you must take your dispute to Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria (DBDRV) unless you are applying to VCAT for an injunction Definition An order that stops a party from doing something, or makes a party do something. . DBDRV is a free conciliation Definition A form of alternative dispute resolution. The parties negotiate with the help of an independent person. The aim is to sort out the dispute by agreement. service supported by expert building assessors.

Read on to determine if you can apply to VCAT without referring your dispute to DBDRV.

When you can apply directly to VCAT

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When your dispute does not involve the home owner

If your case concerns defective building work (which includes the design, inspection and issuing of a permit around building work) you must apply within 10 years after the date of issue of the occupancy permit, or if an occupancy permit is not issued, the date of issue of the certificate of final inspection of the building work (section 134 of the Building Act 1993). This time limit cannot be extended by VCAT.

If the dispute is between a builder, sub-contractor, architect, warranty insurer, engineer or other building practitioner – or any combination of them not including the home owner – complete an Application to Building and Property List (Building).

Exceptions for disputes involving home owners

In most cases involving a home owner you must take your dispute first to DBDRV but there are some exceptions.

You do not need to go to DBDRV when the dispute is between a home owner and single tradesperson engaged directly by the home owner to carry out only one of the following types of work:

  • attaching external fixtures (including awnings, security screens, insect screens and balustrades)
  • electrical work
  • glazing
  • installing floor coverings
  • insulating
  • painting or plastering
  • tiling (wall and floor)
  • plumbing work including drainage, fire protection work, gas fitting, irrigation (non-agricultural) work, mechanical services work (heating and cooling), refrigerated air conditioning work, roofing (stormwater) work, sanitary work, gas appliance conversion and servicing work or water supply work (but not work carried out by a gas company or water authority or drainage works by a council)
  • erecting a chain wire fence to enclose a tennis court
  • erecting a mast, pole, antenna, aerial or similar structure.

If your case concerns defective building work (which includes the design, inspection and issuing of a permit around building work) you must apply within 10 years after the date of issue of the occupancy permit, or if an occupancy permit is not issued, the date of issue of the certificate of final inspection of the building work (section 134 of the Building Act 1993). This time limit cannot be extended by VCAT.

If your claim is under the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012 only, then generally you must apply within six years of the date on which the dispute arose.

Complete an Application to Building and Property List (Building).

When you have taken your dispute to Building Advice Conciliation Victoria (BACV)

If you took your dispute to BACV, you can apply to VCAT to deal with your dispute.

You must provide a letter from BACV confirming they received your complaint before 26 April 2017.

Complete an Application to Building and Property List (Building).

To apply for a review of a decision of a warranty insurer

You must apply within 28 days of the date on which you received the warranty insurer’s decision. Complete an Application to Building and Property List (Building).

If you are an owner-builder seeking an exemption under section 68 of the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995

Complete an Application to Building and Property List (Building).

When you have taken your dispute to Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria (DBDRV)

If you have already taken your dispute to DBDRV, you can apply to VCAT only if:

  • DBDRV could not resolve your dispute or it was not suitable for conciliation – provide a copy of the certificate of conciliation
  • you are a home owner who has ended the contract under a DBDRV process – provide a copy of the notice of breach of dispute resolution order
  • you are a builder who has ended the contract after the home owner breached a dispute resolution order issued by DBDRV – provide a copy of the dispute resolution order

Complete an Application to Building and Property List (Building).

If you are seeking a review of a DBDRV decision, see Review of a decision about building work.

To have a decision about building work reviewed

Learn more about DBDRV decisions or Victorian Building Authority decisions we can review.

Do I need a lawyer or professional representative?

You do not have to have legal or other professional representation to appear at VCAT. In many cases in the Building and Property List all parties are represented by agreement. If you are represented by a legal or other professional representative, we will only communicate with them.

Find free or low-cost legal services that may be able to assist you.

Need help with your application?

We can explain the application process and what the form is asking you for. Contact us to get support.

We cannot give you legal advice. This means we cannot tell you what to write in your application or recommend how to get the outcome you want.

Seek legal help if you are unsure about your options or need advice about your claim. The following services may be able to help you:

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