How to Deal with Building Disputes

30th November 2016

There is no doubt that building disputes are on the rise and becoming more complicated and litigious.

You may find yourself in a situation where work on your building has not been carried out in accordance with a contract, or it may be defective, incomplete or subject to an insurance dispute.

On the other hand, you may be a business owner or contractor faced with unpaid invoices or disputes about variations of work. Either way, such disputes are difficult and unpleasant.

In most building projects, plans tend to evolve and although it is recommended that every change or variation be documented, often it is impractical or time consuming to do so. There are often multiple people working on a building site, and disputes can easily arise about what has been agreed to or not agreed to.

If you do find yourself in this position, it may seem obvious but the most cost-effective means of resolving a dispute is to mediate or arbitrate with the other party. Generally, all home building disputes must be referred to NSW Fair Trading before an application can be made to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).

If dispute resolution is unsuccessful, then the jurisdiction of the Tribunal allows parties to make claims to a value of $500,000, pursuant to the Home Building Act 1989.

You should always seek legal advice as soon as possible so that you aware of your rights, particularly the time frames under which you may be entitled to bring a claim and what is required to prove your claim.

Unrepresented parties often are unaware of the requirement to effectively answer liability questions and submit proper expert evidence in the NCAT jurisdiction.

It is critical to any case in this area that the parties rely on reports produced by qualified and experienced experts who can support or defend the claim.

In more complex cases, the court may order parties to obtain a Scott's Schedule which provides an outline of the defects and recommended methods to remedy the works. It is also an effective tool to narrow down the issues and facilitate meaningful discussions between the parties.

But be sure to get advice early.

Contact RMB Lawyers by calling 1800 681 211 if your having a current dispute with a builder or trades person. We'll be able to help you via a quick phone call, ask us a question via email or even chatting with you online.