A lack of mandatory registration of tradespeople throughout Victoria is placing consumers at risk and costing the building industry dearly, the leader of a key construction industry lobby group in that state says.

In a statement, Master Builders Association of Victoria CEO Radley de Silva said nearly one-third of all consumers throughout Victoria experience problems when building or renovating a home (many because of poor workmanship), and that a lack of requirements for tradespeople to be registered was a significant part of the problem.

Whereas Victoria has only around 2,000 tradespeople, he says, New South Wales and Queensland (with mandatory registration requirements) have around 40,000 and 50,000 respectively.

“The fact that Victoria does not require tradespeople to be registered, as long as they are working for a registered builder, presents a serious problem not just for builders, but for the communities they serve,” de Silva said in a statement.

“Master Builders has long advocated for trades registration as critical to providing a service and product that delivers skilled craftsmanship, safety and an adherence to standards for quality.”

Apart from consumers, de Silva says Victoria’s low level of trade registration is also impacting productivity and the industry.

He says volume builders who operate across boundaries have experienced higher costs in Victoria relative to other states.

de Silva’s call comes as Victoria has seen considerable levels of criticism surrounding the building control regime and consumer outcomes in recent years.

A Governor General’s report earlier this year in that state found that the framework for consumer protection within the construction sector was failing and was overly complex.

Some within the industry agree with de Silva’s comments.

One builder described the current situation he faced as ‘pot luck’ in terms of ascertaining whether or not tradespeople had the skills and experience necessary to perform the work safely and properly – with considerable reputational damage to himself where those whom he hired were found not to be up to scratch.

Still, not all support the call for more registration.

Pointing to previous reports from the Governor General and the Victorian Ombudsman which heavily criticised the registration process, housing consumer advocate Anne Paten said the building practitioner registration process within that state was a shambles to the extent that the question of registration or otherwise was largely meaningless.

Indeed, Paten feels such calls are largely an attempt to shift blame in terms of poor consumer outcomes.

“What does it matter whether everyone is registered or no-one’s registered (in building)?” Paten asked. “(Registration) doesn’t mean anything.”