Each year, thousands of construction and renovation projects are completed in New South Wales. Although most of these projects are completed successfully, there are some instances where things don’t exactly go to plan. Whether it is poor workmanship or un-met expectations, issues can arise at any point in the building process; issues that can cause defects and a less than spectacular end result. This is why, as a property owner it’s very important to understand your rights.
When you hire a builder, you enter into a contractual agreement. While you may assume that this official written obligation will ensure a high quality of workmanship, this is not always the case. As such, if you are unsatisfied with the work or the outcome of the renovation, you have the right to lodge a complaint.
If a building dispute were to arise, here are a few avenues to consider:
If your dispute is regarding the quality of work, you can refer to the NSW Guide to Standards and Tolerances. This guide will outline what standard of work is acceptable, helping you to recognise incorrect practices. For instance, this guide outlines the condition of a leak or crack and assesses whether it’s defective. If it is found that building work does not meet the standards outline in the guide, the work could be considered defective.
This fund acts as a safety net for home owners who found that their builder or tradesperson carried out incomplete or defective building work. Under the Home Building Compensation Fund, if the residential work exceeds $20,000, licensed contractors need to obtain insurance cover. As part of this cover, HCFB will undertake a risk assessment to determine the eligibility of the builder or contractor can obtain insurance cover. Once the builder is deemed eligible, they can apply for a Certificate of Insurance for individual contracted projects.
With a Certificate of Insurance, HCBF can compensate homeowners for losses experienced from defective or incomplete work where the builder has: become insolvent, disappears, dies, or has their building license suspended by NSW Fair Trading.
In 2003, the NSW home building dispute resolution service was established. As part of this service, NSW Fair Trading will appoint a customer service officer to mediate your dispute. The primary aim of the customer service officer is to ensure all parties reach a fair resolution, so the building work can continue without further disruption. Fair Trading will assist you with various concerning areas such as: incomplete or defective work; damage caused to other structures; specialist work including electrical wiring and plumbing.
In most instances where the building work was either incomplete or resulted in defects, a building inspection is required. When conducting a building defect report, the inspector will assess the condition of the building and identify major issues. Furthermore, this inspection will help determine if identified issues either require a rectification order or conclude that the builder is not at fault for the alleged defects.
In this case, an independent building inspection and defect report will not only support your claim but also potentially escalate into a professional witness report. As such, if you dispute requires a legal resolution an independent inspection report can provide offer an impartial assessment that will help you escalate your claim.