Building & Construction Disputes

Building & Construction Disputes

When a dispute arises on a building project it can be a costly exercise for all involved to have the dispute resolved. The sooner the dispute gets resolved, the better.

Whether you are a landowner, builder, sub-contractor, architect, engineer or supplier of building supplies and products, we can provide you with industry relevant legal advice.

It is important that you consult an experienced building dispute lawyer to know where you stand when a dispute occurs.

Our lawyers have extensive experience in managing and resolving both residential and commercial building and construction disputes.

Building and construction disputes can vary greatly in complexity, and liability is not always clear-cut. Depending on the terms of your contract, without immediate action you may unnecessarily be liable for the mistakes of another party.

So, acting quickly is advantageous, if not essential, as there may be steps you can immediately take to protect your interests. Or there may be strict time limits with which you need to comply.

We advise and represent:

  • builders,
  • homeowners,
  • developers,
  • consultants (including architects, surveyors and town planners),
  • contractors,
  • suppliers, and
  • owners’ corporations.

We can advise you about all building and construction related matters, including:

  • Security of Payment Act (SOPA) issues – If you would like to make a claim, we can help you get paid sooner, otherwise, we can provide you with advice about the processes with which you must comply if you are served with a payment claim;
  • domestic building disputes;
  • commercial building disputes;
  • defective work claims (commercial and domestic);
  • breach of contract;
  • debt recovery claims;
  • builder insolvency issues;
  • advice relating to challenging planning permit applications;
  • building licensing and home warranty insurance matters;
  • quantum meruit claims; and
  • representing you in building and constructions matters listed in VCAT or NCAT.

We appreciate the disruption and cost associated with building and construction disputes. We can give you practical advice to help satisfactorily sort the dispute out as soon as possible.

There are often ways to resolve a matter. Early intervention and lawyers can move that process along.

Disputes can often be resolved in negotiations without the need for legal proceedings or mediation. Where possible, our building dispute lawyers will assist clients to reach an amicable resolution without pursuing litigation as the only option.

In court-based proceedings, you may need to comply with strict time limits. If you have received a demand, payment claim or have been served with court documents, swift action is advised.

We work closely with experienced barristers who we brief as necessary. When necessary, we carefully select and provide clear instructions to various experts to assist you with your case. Our careful appointment of barristers and experts is crucial in supporting and defending your position.

If your building and construction matter does need to go to VCAT or court, we will take a proactive approach. Our building and construction lawyers are experienced with the various dispute resolution avenues including the Domestic Building Disputes Resolution Victoria (DBDRV) process, VCAT and all relevant courts.

If you are attending a DBDRV mediation, we can provide advice and help to resolve the matter.

We also advise builders and contractors about standard terms and conditions to help avoid disputes in the future.

If you need advice or representation, our building and construction dispute lawyer team can be contacted on 1300 907 335. Alternatively, complete the enquiry form on this page and we will respond swiftly.


As a property owner, what can I do if I have a dispute with my builder?

If you are having an issue with your builder, you should seek legal advice early. Quite often, clients have come to us after trying to manage difficult negotiations on their own without a clear understanding of their legal position. These landowners will often end up out of pocket.

Our building dispute lawyers understand the law and have extensive experience in handling difficult negotiations. We aim to resolve our clients disputes quickly and effectively.

Building disputes fall into two broad categories (building and construction disputes in relation to residential building contracts and building and construction disputes in relation to commercial building contracts). The process for resolving disputes is different for each category.

What happens in a residential building dispute?

The method for handling residential building disputes has changed somewhat in Victoria with the introduction of the Domestic Building Disputes Resolution Victoria (DBDRV).

Generally, before referring a matter to DBDRV, parties in a residential building dispute must have taken reasonable steps to resolve the issues in dispute.

This will usually require that the aggrieved party has notified the other party clearly (and preferably in writing) of the issue in dispute, has given the other party an opportunity to respond to the issue in dispute and has advised them of their intention to refer the matter to DBDRV if the issue is not resolved. We can assist you in preparing and organising your dispute and attempt to have it successfully resolved, hopefully before you attend the DBDRV.

If a matter involves certain complexity or an Owners Corporation, the DBDRV (subject to consent from the other parties), easily allows legal representation and is certainly a service we can provide.

If you cannot have a building and construction lawyer represent you in the DBDRV we can advise you of the merits of your claim and assist in structuring your argument so that you are well prepared for the process.

Quite often builders are experienced in these tribunals appearances whereas most homeowners do not have experience in these settings. Having a clear plan and well-articulated case will give you the best chance of success and resolving your matter prior to the DBDRV hearing.

Your matter may settle at the DBDRV, however, if there is no resolution, you will receive a conciliation certificate. Once you have received this certificate you will be able to commence legal proceedings in VCAT.

While your matter is being listed in VCAT, our building and construction lawyers can also assist you by continuing to mediate and resolve the matter by negotiation.

By running the two strategies at once, we can often reach a satisfactory resolution for you sooner.

What is a commercial building and construction dispute?

A commercial building and construction dispute is a dispute between a property owner, builder sub-contractor or any other building practitioner in relation to a commercial building contract. A commercial building and construction dispute will be decided by VCAT or by a court. There are different avenues and methods that may be used to resolve commercial construction disputes.

There are certain criteria determining whether a building and construction dispute is commercial or residential. Our building and construction lawyers will provide you with advice as to which court or tribunal the dispute will be best heard in. Different courts hear different types of matters and we will select the best court for your matter, taking into consideration the value of your claim and the nature of your claim.

Examples of a commercial building and construction dispute include:

  • disputes between a builder and a contractor;
  • disputes between two contractors or disputes between a commercial builder; and
  • a developer in relation to contracts for a large-scale building project, such as apartments or a commercial building.

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Sunshine VIC 3020