Yearly Archives: 2019

Protect Your home from Bushfire – VBA Media Release

Media Release

12 December 2019

Earlier start to Australia’s bushfire season brings forward the need to prepare your property

The Victorian Building Authority has backed the 2019-20 Victorian Fire Season Campaign with a range of last-minute measures homeowners can still take to help prepare their properties ahead of what promises to be a highly challenging bushfire season.

Australia’s 2019-20 bushfire season got off to an early, devastating start, with blazes in New South Wales and Queensland destroying almost three million hectares of vegetation and more than 740 properties and claiming six lives since late August-early September.

Fortunately, despite parts of Victoria reporting their driest winter and spring on record, the state has so far avoided the same fate as its northern neighbours – with a small number of relatively smaller fires reported, and only one ‘Code Red’ fire danger day declared. However, as history shows, things can change swiftly, and a long, hot summer lies ahead.

The VBA Director of Technical and Regulation, Dr Darryl O’Brien, said Victorians should use this reprieve to ensure their fire safety and survival plans are in place and take steps to protect their homes as best possible, including from ember attack, which has been shown to be the key factor in more than 85 per cent of houses destroyed by bushfire.

“There are some easy and affordable actions people can still take to prepare their homes before the full force of summer arrives, particularly in relation to ember attack. We would encourage people in bushfire-prone areas to act quickly,” Dr O’Brien said.

The actions include:

  • Sealing gaps with joining strips, silicon weather strips, draught excluders on side-hung doors
  • Sealing vents and weep holes in external walls with corrosion resistant steel, bronze or aluminium mesh
  • Sealing around roofing and roof penetrations
  • If an evaporative cooler is installed, protecting it with a mesh screen
  • Clearing leaves from gutters and considering installing an appropriate leaf-guard type product
  • Checking that your gutters are in good condition and will hold water if you block the downpipes
  • Enclosing the subfloor of your home with a non-combustible material
  • Installing shutters or metal flyscreens to doors and windows.

Dr O’Brien said a Registered Building Practitioner can advise on whether property owners can retrofit safety elements, and to what extent it is possible before bushfire season is fully upon us.

“In addition to these steps, routine building maintenance, vegetation management and the removal of flammable materials close to buildings are easy bushfire protection measures you can take,” he said.

The VBA and the CFA have produced the Guide to Retrofit Your Home for Better Protection from a Bushfire as practical information for people wishing upgrade to their existing homes to be better protected from bushfires. The guide is for properties up to Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) 29.

For more information on the 2019-20 Victorian Fire Season campaign, visit the campaign website, the VBA website for a range of information on building and bushfires, or the CFA website to view information on home improvements and other preparations to make your house safer.

Policy sent to Premier

Date: Friday, 30 August 2019 4:16 PM

30 August 2019

Hon Daniel Andrews MP Premier of Victoria Office of the Premier

1 Treasury Place Melbourne VIC 3002

Hon Richard Wynne MP Minister for Planning

Level 16, 8 Nicholson Street East Melbourne Victoria, 3002

Dear Premier and Minister


I write on behalf of the Victorian Municipal Building Surveyors Group (VMBSG). The VMBSG is an association committed to good building control and regulation at a local government level in Victoria. The VMBSG operates under its statement of purpose and the rules of the incorporated association. The purpose of this letter is to specifically address issues surrounding the current state of the Victorian Building Control and Building Permit system.

The Victorian Building Control and Building Permit system has been subject to severe and critical scrutiny in recent times for a range of reasons. The unfortunate combustible cladding crisis, which has been received considerable media coverage, has culminated in further highlighting the numerous shortcomings of the system.

We believe that it would be fair to say that public confidence in the system is now at an all-time low.

Numerous inquiries and reports into the system over the years have identified serious systemic problems on multiple occasions and high-profile failures have received considerable public attention. Failures that in all too many cases will have catastrophic financial consequences for too many Victorian citizens.

Numerous attempts over the years to tweak the legislation have been ineffective in arresting the ongoing systemic shortcomings and failures of the system.

VMBSG has long been sceptical of the privatised Building Permit system. It was always obvious to our members that the inbuilt conflicts of interests between builders and developers and their building designers and private building surveyors would routinely deliver poor outcomes for the Victorian community. Obviously, as key players in the system, VMBSG members have done their best to support the system in an extraordinarily challenging environment. However the reputational damage that is inherent in the current state of affairs does tarnish the professional reputation of our members too.

It is now apparent to us that we have arrived at a point in time where avoidance of significant change is not an option. To this end, VMBSG have developed a submission to Government (attached) suggesting real improvements to the Victorian Building Control system that we believe will deliver better outcomes for the Victorian community. We trust that you will receive and review our submission documents with a view to real consideration for change.

The VMBSG looks forward to your response in relation to these matters. We would be pleased to provide any assistance in relation to further background and suggested system improvements wherever necessary.

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you wish to discuss this matter further.

Yours sincerely

John Prendergast

President Victorian Municipal Building Surveyors Group







Media Release – VBA

11 April 2019

Open-Flued Gas Heater Safety Audit

To highlight and identify the life-safety risks posed by poorly installed open-flued gas heaters leaking carbon monoxide, the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) has launched its 2019 awareness and testing campaign.

The campaign, which commenced in March, will see 150 newly installed gas heaters in Victorian homes tested over three months.  The results of this campaign will inform whether plumbers need further education and training on installing and commissioning gas heaters.

Partial combustion of natural gas can produce carbon monoxide (CO), a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas that can cause death or chronic illness if it spills or leaks from gas heaters. A blocked flue or chimney, negative air pressure, or non-compliant installation can have tragic consequences.

CO poisoning can happen in any building with gas heating appliances, including newer models. In Victoria over the past decade there have been several deaths from CO poisoning.

As part of its 2019 campaign, the VBA Plumbing Audit Program is inspecting newly-installed gas heaters across the state, checking for correct installation and CO leakage. The three-month audit program follows last year’s statewide education and testing program of appropriately registered and licensed plumbers to ensure they have the skills and awareness of issues that can arise from incorrectly installed or poorly maintained gas heaters.

The VBA will use the results of the audit as the basis for ongoing education and information activities with practitioners and homeowners on the risks posed by CO poisoning.

Always use licensed or registered people

With colder weather approaching, the VBA and Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) are stepping up safety warnings to Victorian households and recommend gas heaters are serviced and checked by an appropriately licensed or registered plumber at least every two years.

Only heater manufacturers and appropriately licensed or registered practitioners can legally conduct heating work and have the appropriate insurance. Using an unqualified practitioner for installation and servicing puts lives and warranties at risk.

Consumers should always ask to see their plumber’s photo ID card, which shows the classes of plumbing work they are registered or licensed to do. In addition, you can check that your plumber is registered or licensed by going to the ‘Find a Practitioner’ tab on the VBA website ( All gas work, including the installation, relocation or replacement of any gas appliance or the conversion of an appliance from one gaseous fuel to another, requires the plumber to issue the consumer with a Compliance Certificate.

Electrical work related to heaters requires an electrician licensed by ESV. Visit the ESV website ( for more information.

Media Enquiries

Karen Lyon, Communications Manager – Phone: 03 9618 9316

Website:   Twitter: @VicBuilding   Instagram: @victorian_building_authority

Apartment Design Advisory Service (ADAS)

Applications are now welcome!

The Victorian ADAS offers free expert advice to assist developers and designers to comply with the Better Apartments Design Standards.

Building designers or developers involved in the early stages of an apartment design can apply to have a free collaborative workshop with the ADAS design advisory team.

The ADAS advice will assist with compliance with the Apartment Design Standards and will help make planning approvals easier.

To find out more about how to get involved visit our website at, or get in touch with our service coordinator at or by calling 03 9412 4057.