Unregistered / Unqualified ‘Builders’ and illegal building works

Council Enforcement 

Every week the Building Departments at Councils find themselves having to investigate situations where property owners have had illegal building work undertaken at their property.

Usually this takes the form of simple structures such as carports, garages, verandah’s and the like; sometimes even dwelling alterations and additions, or other more substantial work.

When the Council Building Department issues Building Notices and Orders on property owners; and they inevitably do, a re-occurring response is, “but the ‘builder’ said it didn’t require a building permit”, or “I didn’t know that we had to get a building permit”.

Word of advice. If you ignore Council Building enforcement it will more likely than not end up at Court where you will have to explain to the Magistrate why the works were undertaken, and why you failed to resolve that matter. Fines and costs can be excessive, reaching into the tens of thousands of dollars.


If a ‘builder’ undertook the building works

Yes the ‘builder’. We write ‘builder’ in inverted commas. This is because often, unfortunately the ‘builder’ is not always really a builder. It seems that anyone who puts an advert in the local papers or wears overalls nowadays happily calls themselves a builder; and with the amount of miss-information about the so called, but now non existent $5,000.00 exemptions the matter is further complicated for property owners.

This is the trap for the property owner who takes full responsibility for works undertaken on their property and who is usually left holding the can for very expensive rectification works; (assuming the structure is allowed to remain, and not be demolished) when the ‘builder’ has flown the coup, denies responsibility or is simply too hard to take to task through the legal system.

Should  you wish to engage a real builder; (no inverted commas), ask if they are registered, insured, members of the H.I.A. or M.B.A. or the like. You can even contact the Victorian Building Authority for details on registered builders. Check up on their qualifications; ask for referrals from previous owners for whom they have done work. You may even wish to ring the owners and speak to them. Do your homework and don’t just assume because these ‘builders’ say they are a builder, that they know what they are talking about.


If you carried out the building works

With the plethora of D.I.Y. shows on television it is little wonder that businesses like ‘Bunnings’ are doing a booming trade. The amount of homeowners undertaking weekend works has skyrocketed over the last few years. This is great for the economy, and your home might be looking like your castle; but at what cost.

Do you, as an owner-builder know whether the works you are undertaking require a building permit? It may surprise you to know that much of it probably does. So where does that leave you when a neighbour complains to your local Council about your works, or the Council do a random audit on your property, or you wish to sell your property? Chances are, as with the ‘dodgy’ builder referred to above that you will again be left holding the can.

Our advice to anyone thinking about carrying out ANY building work is to seek our advice. Advice is free… rectification works are not.

If you’ve unfortunately been misguided by ‘builders’, or misinformation about what did or didn’t require a building permit and have built works which are subject to Council enforcement, we can help you.

For further information give us a call.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.