Building Defects

We Help You Navigate the Complex Building Dispute Process

When a construction defect leads to a building dispute, any resolution will need to rely on the numerous pieces of legislation, rules, standards and codes that govern the construction industry in New South Wales.

 Building Defects

One particular piece of legislation, the Home Building Act 1989, is critical for parties involved in a residential building dispute. This act determines the rights, responsibilities and obligations of owners, builders and developers in relation to residential construction. It can be very difficult to determine how the rules set out in the act apply to a given building dispute. Strict time limits also need to be adhered to.

Navigating such a complex process requires the assistance of highly skilled and experienced legal professionals. Gavel & Page construction lawyers and contract lawyers are extremely capable and can help you resolve any type of building dispute.

What Home Owners and Owner’s Corporations Need to Know

The Home Building Act 1989 (the Act) has been amended a number of times over the last few years, with the most recent changes taking effect in January and March 2015. The Act includes a host of provisions for residential construction works, such as:

  1. To whom the act applies;
  2. Rights and obligations of the various people involved;
  3. Standard of work expected;
  4. Documents and insurances required; and
  5. Procedures for building disputes.

Most importantly, the Home Building Act enforces strict time constraints on home owners and Owner’s Corporations to commence action against the builder or developer and to notify insurers of any defects or incomplete works. The time limits may vary depending on the nature of the defect and when the works were completed, so professional legal advice is recommended.

The act also stipulates that the parties involved in residential construction work have a written contract in place and that the builder obtains Home Owner’s Warranty Insurance if the work is valued at or over $20,000. This insurance protects the owners, Owner’s Corporations and their successors should the work undertaken be incomplete or defective.

Owners should be aware, however, that the Home Owner’s Warranty Insurance is a policy of last resort. The builder or developer involved in the building dispute must be pursued first, and the insurance is triggered only if the builder dies, becomes insolvent or disappears. In the meantime, strict time limits still apply for notifying insurers of any such pending or potential claim.

When a Building Dispute Cannot Be Resolved Amicably

If the matter cannot be resolved amicably, proceedings will commence, usually via the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT). NCAT covers claims up to $500,000. Beyond that, the District Court is responsible for claims up to $750,000, and the Supreme Court handles any larger amounts.

NCAT has its own range of procedures for commencing an application, preparing evidence and progressing the building dispute to a final hearing. The entire process can be quite complex, emotionally straining and tricky. An experienced practitioner can advise you and guide you to an effective conclusion.

Gavel & Page can:

  • Advise you as to your rights, the likelihood of your success, as well as the challenges you may face;
  • Liaise with the builder or developer to facilitate an early resolution;
  • Make demands on your behalf;
  • Commence proceedings to seek correction of the defects or monetary compensation from the builder;
  • Liaise with and attend NCAT;
  • Prepare the evidence required in support of your case and comply with all procedural requirements;
  • Liaise with third parties and experts giving evidence;
  • Ensure that all strict time limits are known and actionable items are carried out efficiently
  • Ensure you understand what is required of you and the process involved; and
  • Provide clear, consistent and meaningful advice every step of the way, so you are never left in the dark.

Our expert team has the experience and knowledge to see you through any type of building dispute. We deliver a winning strategy and proactively pursue your case through to a successful conclusion, while always communicating with you in a clear and meaningful manner.

We are driven by a desire for successful outcomes, not the bottom line. We therefore remain flexible on cost, while ensuring the highest possible standard of work.

What Builders and Developers Need to Know

 Building Defects

We are also able to assist you if you are the builder or developer involved in a building dispute. This will involve different considerations and strategies:

  • Firstly, we review the nature of the claim or allegations being made against you.
  • We have an informed discussion with you as to the work carried out and the contracts in place, and we obtain your version of the building dispute.
  • We then liaise with any relevant third parties, including building consultants, in order to verify or challenge the allegations being made against you.

It is often prudent to facilitate discussions with the complaining party early to narrow the issues in dispute, or resolve the proceedings entirely. If the building dispute cannot be resolved through simple discussion, we can undertake all necessary action to protect your interests. Gavel & Page can:

  • Advise you as to your rights, the likelihood of your success, as well as the challenges you may face;
  • Liaise with the complaining party to facilitate an early resolution;
  • Respond to demands on your behalf;
  • Defend you against proceedings seeking monetary compensation or correction of the alleged defects;
  • Issue cross applications against others who may be responsible;
  • Liaise with and attend NCAT;
  • Prepare evidence required to support your case and comply with all procedural requirements;
  • Liaise with third parties and experts giving evidence;
  • Ensure all strict time limits are known and actionable items are carried out efficiently;
  • Ensure that you understand what is required of you and the process involved; and
  • Provide clear, consistent and meaningful advice every step of the way, so you are never left in the dark.

Negotiating a building dispute in accordance with the Home Building Act can be as confusing for builders and developers as it is for home owners and Owner’s Corporations. Many changes have taken place over the years, including but not limited to:

  • The term “structural defect” is now identified as a major defect; which makes it more onerous for owners to establish.
  • Builders are no longer liable if a defect is due to the owner’s independent experts or designers.
  • Owner builder requirements and insurance rules have changed.
  • Mediation, resolution and correction of the defects or incomplete work are preferred over monetary compensation.
  • Builders are subject to additional regulations which may affect licencing or renewals.
  • Sub-contractors are now liable for the same statutory warranties as builders.

Benefit from Our Quality Legal Advice and Flexible Prices

Whether you are the home owner or builder, if you are involved in a building dispute, our expert team of construction lawyers has the experience and knowledge to see you through the entire process, which can otherwise be daunting and stressful.

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