Construction and Infrastructure update: What do the recent VBA announcements mean for your registration as a Domestic Builder (Manager)?

Dec 23, 2020

As the cessation of the Domestic Builder (Manager) (DB-M) class of building practitioners draws closer, the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) have tightened the screws on the rules for registered DB-Ms, particularly in respect of their ability to obtain new building permits.

Recent advice from the VBA necessitates a much swifter transition of registered DB-Ms to another domestic building class than previously anticipated.

When is the DB-M class officially being phased out?

In accordance with 2017 legislative changes, practitioners registered as DB-Ms will cease to be registered on 30 June 2022.

Can registered DB-Ms continue to obtain new building permits up until 30 June 2022?

No. Based on recent advice issued by the VBA on 27 November 2020, relevant building surveyors (RBSs) are not permitted to issue new building permits to DB-Ms. This is due to amendments to the Building Act 1993 (Vic) (specifically sections 24A and 24B) that came into force on 1 July 2018.

However, the VBA have advised that DB-Ms with open permits may bring associated works to completion by no later than 30 June 2022.

What constitutes an ‘open permit’?

The VBA issued an Advisory Note on 15 December 2020 that offered some clarity around the meaning of an ‘open permit’.

The advice to RBSs is that they may continue to issue building permits to DB-Ms in cases where a major domestic building contract is already on foot between a DB-M and an owner, provided that the RBS is satisfied that the DB-M is the same as the name of the builder:

  • in the related major domestic building contract;
  • in the certificate of insurance; and
  • for the proposed building permit.

DB-Ms will not be permitted to obtain a building permit if a major domestic building contract has not been executed with an owner.

What options are available for registered DB-Ms going forward?

In light of these recent announcements, registered DB-Ms should be looking to transition to a new domestic building class much sooner than 30 June 2022 if they want to continue to secure domestic building contracts and new building permits.

There are 30 classes of domestic building work available for registered DB-Ms to consider when transitioning from their current registration. For DB-Ms looking to continue to be registered in a managerial capacity or not be limited by a class of domestic building work, the Project Manager (Domestic) (PM-D) or Domestic Builder (Unlimited) (DB-U) classes may be appropriate for currently registered DB-Ms.

Note: The requirements for registration in classes DB-U and PM-D are not the same as those previously required for registration in the DB-M class. For example, practitioners applying for registration as either a DB-U or PM-D may need to demonstrate that they have successfully obtained one of the prescribed educational qualifications.

For more information on these requirements and how to apply for registration, click here.

How long will it take to become registered in another domestic building class?

The VBA have advised that they aim to process all applications within 45 days, subject to the qualifications noted above.

However, given the volume of applications likely to be made in light of the recent announcements, it is reasonable to expect that the registration process would exceed this 45-day estimate.

More information

For more information on the VBA announcement or advice, Damien Simonetti, Principal Lawyer, on (03) 8600 0708 or


This Construction and Infrastructure update was authored by Jack Noone, Seasonal Clerk.

Note: This update is a guide only and is not intended to constitute legal advice.