We understand the challenges facing homeowners when a dispute with a builder arises. The biggest challenge you will usually face is getting the dispute resolved quickly to avoid further delays to your project.
Our residential building dispute lawyers are seasoned negotiators in this area of law and can offer a variety of approaches to facilitate a positive outcome as quickly as possible.
Providing you with initial advice as a sounding board to assist you in negotiating with your builder yourself is sometimes sufficient, at first instance. Where possible, we can be a great sounding board in giving you strategies in the context of legal principles that will assist you in sitting down with your builder from more constructive discussions. As experienced building lawyers, we can be of great benefit even at this early stage.
However, more frequently, our clients come to us at the point where the relationship has already broken down such that our involvement is needed directly.
If the dispute can’t be resolved informally and amicably (with or without lawyers), the QBCC dispute resolution process will need to be followed. This more formal process operates in the following way:
- First of all, there is an expectation that there is engagement with the builder in a formal way that articulates the issues, if this has not already been done. We can contact the builder on your behalf and engage in discussions directly. This may be by writing an initial letter to fully explain your complaint and any defects, with a view to isolating issues in dispute. Initial contact by your building dispute lawyers may get the relationship back on track. It creates a buffer between two parties. The law requires you to provide the builder with a written complaint listing each item of concern and further necessitates that you give the builder 14 days to respond to your concerns or get the issues rectified.
- If those communications with the builder have not been successful, you will have no choice but to escalate the matter to the QBCC. This step is generally necessary before litigation. A QBCC dispute lawyer will be able to assist you with the complaint process at the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC).
- The first thing to do in this process will be to lodge a claim with the QBCC. Once the complaint has been lodged with the QBCC, a specialist QBCC Resolution Services Officer (case officer) will be appointed to your matter.
- The assigned case officer will assess your claim and try to facilitate a resolution between you and the builder. At this juncture, the case officer may provide you and the builder with an opportunity to submit any relevant materials in support of your respective position.
- It is important to note that a statutory timeframe will apply if you are seeking a direction for the rectification of defective or incomplete works. Accordingly, you must ensure that you lodge your complaint with the QBCC within three (3) months of becoming aware of the defective or incomplete works.
- At the conclusion of the Building Inspector’s site inspection, the QBCC will make an informed decision on whether rectification works are required to be completed by the builder.
- If rectification works are considered necessary, the QBCC may issue the builder with a Direction to Rectify the defective or incomplete works. In such an instance it will be necessary to provide the builder with access to the site. Typically, the builder will be given a rectification period of 35 days, however this will be subject to the QBCC’s discretion.
- Failure to comply with a Direction to Rectify can have substantial consequences for the builder, including but not limited to disciplinary action, receiving a fine and/or conditions been placed on their building licence.
- If you are not satisfied with the direction of the QBCC, then within 28 days of the QBCC’s direction, you may apply to the QBCC’s Internal Review Unit or the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) to review the QBCC’s direction.