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Stage 4 restrictions and commencement and finishing of small-scale construction work – Victoria

August 31, 2020

The Victorian Government has made changes to the stage 4 restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne for the commencement and finishing of small-scale construction work such as building new homes.

HIA sought these important changes from Government. It means more flexibility for many single trades working at the commencement and finishing of building work beyond the current 3 sites a week rule. These trades, many of whom work alone, are vital to keeping residential sites and projects moving and we are pleased to see the Government has listened and responded.

What has been updated?

Members will be aware that small-scale construction work is subject to limits on the number of workers (5 per site and a supervisor) and limits on the number of sites a worker may visit a week (3 sites a week for specialist contractors).

Today’s changes specify that work on a small-scale domestic building site before base stage and after fixing stage is not construction work for the purpose of limits on the number of workers and number of sites per week. This means that the five worker per site and three sites per week rules do not always apply for the work before the base stage is completed and after the fixing stage is completed.

Are there still limits on the number of workers and numbers of site?

Yes. The Workplace Directions already require employers to as much as practicable limit the number of workers on a site (the density quotient) and the movement of workers between sites (the worker mobility requirements). Builders should still observe the five workers plus supervisor rule unless it is not safe to only have five workers. For example, it may be necessary to have more than five workers for a slab pour.

Employers must continue to minimise the movement of workers between sites and workers and employees must continue to keep records and make declarations about site visits if they work for multiple businesses.

This important update recognises the fact that at the commencement and finishing stages of small-scale domestic building work there are usually less than five workers needed at a site, the site visits are generally made in isolation from other workers, and they last for a short time.

What is the base stage?

The definition of base stage comes from the Domestic Building Contracts Act.

"Base stage" means —

(a) in the case of a home with a timber floor, the stage when the concrete footings for the floor are poured and the base brickwork is built to floor level;

(b) in the case of a home with a timber floor with no base brickwork, the stage when the stumps, piers or columns are completed;

(c) in the case of a home with a suspended concrete slab floor, the stage when the concrete footings are poured;

(d) in the case of a home with a concrete floor, the stage when the floor is completed;

(e) in the case of a home  for which the exterior walls and roof are constructed before the floor is constructed, the stage when the concrete footings are poured;

It is important to note that if your actual domestic building contract contains a different definition this does not override the definition that applies for the purpose of stage 4 restrictions.

What is the fixing stage?

The definition of fixing stage also comes from the Domestic Building Contracts Act.

"Fixing stage" means the stage when all internal cladding, architraves, skirting, doors, built-in shelves, baths, basins, troughs, sinks, cabinets and cupboards of a home are fitted and fixed in position.

Want to know more?

Read the updated info on the Government's website