Builder’s viewpoint – Melanie Fasham

Registration of Builders – Victoria, Australia.

As a builder of residential houses in Victoria, Australia, I am required to hold a Domestic Builder – Unlimited (DB-U) registration which is administered by the Victorian Building Authority. To obtain this registration I was required to undergo a series of tests and an interview to ensure that I had the appropriate skills and technical competence to perform the duties of a builder, as well as the appropriate knowledge to run a business including the financial, legal and contractual obligations and the consequences of failing. The VBA understands that consumers have a right to a high quality product but that all the skills required cannot necessarily be learnt on the job, or through educational courses and these skills need to be tested prior to a registration being granted. I personally feel registration is essential in our industry…..not only for consumer confidence but also for that of the builder.

Gaining my registration was a huge achievement and once received I felt very proud, and very prepared, to take on building contracts.

Once registered, builders have access to a wealth of information provided by the VBA including changes to building legislation and standards, and other resources to keep me up to date with key industry information and guidance to ensure I do the best job I can. The VBA also work closely with industry associations such as Master Builders Victoria to ensure that these messages are getting to all builders…..ensuring again we are all working towards the best builds we can.

With the DB-U registration I am able to engage tradespeople without registrations to carry out parts of the building work however as their quality of work is ultimately my responsibility and puts the onus on me I am always looking for those trades that hold a non-mandatory registration in their area of expertise such as carpentry, tiling, waterproofing, footings and slab work. This gives me the confidence that they too have been through a rigorous testing framework and also understand their obligations to me and my client.

The clear benefits of a registration system for our industry are: consumer confidence and protection, ensures proper skill and qualified trades, pride in skill, trades held accountable for rectification, fewer insurance claims, lower cost of building through reduced defects, system where knowledge and skill are tested, assists the industry become one of desire to join.

In Victoria there are a number of different registrations available depending on the work that each trade does.  It is a fairly complex system whereby there are a number of mandatory registrations in both unlimited categories (ie builders, building surveyors, engineers to name a few) and limited trade categories (ie, plumbing, electricians, demolishers etc) and a whole host of non-mandatory limited categories across all disciples in building for builders and tradespeople to consider. Builders who carry out work in the non-mandatory registration fields do not require the registration if they are contracting to a registered builder such as a DB-U but must have this registration if performing work directly for a consumer over a certain dollar value.

Other states and territories of Australia have a full mandatory trade registration system and the builders I know who build across multiple states confirm that in the states where mandatory trade registration exists they see better quality of the build, fewer rectifications during the build and less over all building defects and client complaints. There is a real sense of everyone doing their best along the way for the best outcome.

The current Victorian State government is looking to make all trade registrations mandatory. As a builder I believe that this will improve the quality of building work as each trade will become solely responsible for the quality and longevity of their work and have insurances to cover defective work. Acknowledging that this is a very large change to our current system it will require careful planning and implementation to ensure it is successful.