Building? What to do when things go wrong

Judy Lourens, Business Development Manager

New consumer protection regulations authorised by the Building Act 2004 (Part 4A), introduced in January 2015, have boosted protection for consumers when engaging building contractors. The fact that you now need a written residential building contract for any building works over $30,000 has changed the landscape for many projects.

Key changes under the regulations include that:

  • contractors must provide a disclosure statement that sets out information about who is doing the work, their insurances, guarantees and warranties
  • contractors must give homeowners  checklist that includes information about what is considered ‘building work’ under law, how building projects are managed, hiring competent contractors, agreeing price and payments, when a written contract is necessary and steps to take to resolve disputes
  • written contracts must be provided for building work above $30,000
  • if a matter is in dispute, one party must serve notice on the other and  both parties must use best efforts to resolve through good faith
  • if the dispute cannot be resolved between the parties, then written notice must be served that refers the dispute to mediation; contact Fair Way at this point to find a mediator that best suits you.

There are a many reasons things might go wrong with a building project. For example, the homeowner might have unrealistic expectations of the scope of the building work, there might be a lack of communication between contractor and client, there may be shortages of specified products which results in delivery delays, or the workmanship may not be up to standard. 

The question is how to deal with any dispute that arises.

The regulations compel the parties to start by talking about the problem, or potential problems as it may simply be a lack of understanding or miscommunication.

There is no Government-funded independent body with building expertise to help consumers and builders quickly resolve conflicts under the new regulations. However Fair Way has the ability to deal with the issues independently, quickly and confidentially to get the relationship back on track. We have mediators trained to deal with issues with homeowners, subcontractors or supply chain problems and we can coach you in order to prevent disputes happening in the future.