The safety-net insurance set up to protect Victorian homeowners from shoddy building is under fire as a rort.
A scathing report from the Victorian Ombudsman has taken aim at the state's building regulator, which enforces Builders Warranty Insurance.
The State Government has joined also calls to change the scheme, which has delivered profits to a few and hardship to many.
Robert Siebert has suffered continuing financial hardship at the hands of dodgy builders.
"It took something like eight years from the start of building to actually getting into the house," he said.
"There was an enormous amount of stress on the family, we went through some very tough times with it." Fellow Victorian Steven Mills also knows the pain of being burnt by bad builders.
"I cannot get an occupancy certificate for my new house, so in effect I'm a squatter in a new dwelling," he said.
Both thought they would be covered by compulsory Builders Warranty Insurance, which they had paid thousands for through their builders.
"I made a claim on the insurance.
Although it said the value on the repair works was over $160,000 plus there was my legal costs and my costs of rental, they only offered about $50,000 to settle," Mr Siebert said.
Mr Mills says the scheme is "junk insurance".
"And that term has been used by other people that have found themselves in the same predicament as I have," he said.
Builder Phil Dwyer, the president of the Builders Collective which represents smaller builders, has fought hard for reform of the scheme.
The original idea was to cover homeowners should their builder die, disappear or become insolvent.
But Mr Dwyer says the scheme has been a "scam for the last 10 years".
"They're not covered at all.
Not in any way, shape or form," he said.
"It's an illusion.
It's referred to as Builders Warranty Insurance - that in itself suggests people are covered and they draw comfort from that." Mr Dwyer and others say privatised home warranty schemes have mainly served to enrich insurance companies peddling hundreds of millions of dollars worth of policies but paying out very few.
That sentiment is echoed by Mr Mills.
"Effectively it's been a goldmine for the home warranty insurance companies, but for the consumer it was an absolute shocking deal from the word go," he said.
Safety net Critics are equally concerned about trade associations like the powerful Housing Industry Association (HIA).
They say the HIA has profited hugely from becoming the largest Builders Warranty Insurance broker in Australia, and its biggest public promoter.
Graham Wolfe, the chief of industry policy with HIA, says the scheme is valuable.
"The warranty insurance provides a safety net for consumers," he said.
"Governments have decided that it's important for this single most important purchase that many consumers will make in their lives doesn't fall to the risk of a builder becoming insolvent, dying, disappearing or being unable to complete the work.
"And so consumers are given the benefit of that safety net." But Mr Dwyer says there are vested interests at play.
"We've unfortunately had vested interest play a significant role in the retention of this product, and governments themselves have known it's not working and they should have done a lot more about it a lot earlier, however they haven't," he said.
The HIA would not divulge how much money it makes selling Builders Warranty Insurance for insurance companies.
"We think having it provided through specialist underwriters is the preferred way," Mr Wolfe said.
"What we've found is that brings more competition into the market place and provides for a greater choice of access to different underwriters and that of course provides some pricing competition." 'Expose the wrongdoing' New South Wales and Victoria have been the biggest backers of the current system.
The Victorian Building Commission has long had a cosy relationship with the HIA, strongly supporting its stand for privatised builders warranty insurance.
But Victoria's Ombudsman on Wednesday released a report scathing of the Building Commission, accusing it of maladministration on several fronts.
Now the Victorian Government has joined the call to overhaul the commission and the insurance scheme the Government says has failed those it was meant to protect.
"The Building Commission in the past has not managed this issue well in Victoria," Planning Minister Matthew Guy said.
"It has not been managed well.
There has not been engagement with consumers who have genuine complaints.
"That is why we are reviewing the consumer protections around Building Warranty Insurance." Mr Dwyer has welcomed the news.
"It's terribly important because it's going to expose the wrongdoing that's been going on for the past decade," he said.
"For 10 years we've had this scheme that's destroyed so many people." Consumers and consumer groups hope Victoria and other states will adopt the Queensland model, in which a not-for-profit Builders Warranty Insurance scheme is administered by government.
Under that scheme, payouts in the event of defective or shoddy work are not a rarity but a first resort.
"There is widespread support from all consumer groups and many people in the building industry to change the system that we have at the end of the day," Mr Mills said.
"It's not difficult.
Everyone can tell you what has to be done.
"It's just about governments wanting to do something about it at the end of the day."