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Why it’s important that you understand your domestic building contract.

3 min read

21 Jul 2021

You may have just bought a new block of land, or maybe you’ve knocked down an old house and are ready to put up a new one. Or perhaps you’re embarking on your first investment development. The right builder has been found, the plans have been drawn up and the contract is ready to sign.

When signing a residential building contract you are entering a legally binding contract and committing to a big investment.

But, do you really know what you are signing? Are there phrases that you are unsure about such as liquidated damages, prime cost” or “plus cost or perhaps you aren’t sure how variations work if you want to change something.

This is why obtaining building contract advice from an experienced building lawyer is essential even if you are an experienced developer.

Our Building and Construction lawyers are well versed and highly experienced in reviewing and providing advice on a broad variety of building contracts both domestically and commercially.

Whether you’re building your first home and need a lot of guidance or you’re building an investment property and have built before, we can provide the advice you need to ensure you get the most out of your contract.

Most domestic building contracts generally range between 40 to 60 pages, are long and tailored specifically for each landowner. This means they are no two contracts are the same. Builders also frequently add in special conditions to standard contracts such as the HIA building contracts. Many of these special conditions may vary other general conditions clauses in your contract and need to be cross-referenced and checked in detail.

The contract is the formalisation of your agreement between you and the builder. It is the key document that is relied upon if a dispute arises. Getting the details in the building contract right upfront will ensure that issues and disputes are pre-empted or averted. Ambiguous terms and conditions are a major contributor to disputes. Our building lawyers review these clauses so they are clarified and additional other terms you may need are negotiated.

We look to ensure that the contract accurately reflects your understanding of the verbal discussion or previous agreements you had reached with your builder.

It is crucial that you understand your rights and obligations under the contract and those of the builder. This will assist you towards getting the most out of your build and avoiding any potential disputes or other issues along the way. Should a dispute arise, you will know what to look out for and when to reach out for assistance.

How we can help

Our build and construction team are experienced in advising clients, subcontractors and builders and handling their legal disputes. This means we understand the key areas of where disputes arise and landowners have the most difficulties with the build process.

We want to help you be prepared and understand your building contract before construction starts. We will make sure you understand where the common pitfalls for clients are.

Our lawyers are experienced in residential building and construction law have helped many clients through the process you are about to undertake.

If you would like PCL Lawyers to review your contract and provide you with the advice you need, call us on 1300 907 335 to speak with one of our lawyers today.

Disclaimer: This article has been prepared for general information purposes and may not apply to your situation. This information should not be relied upon for legal, tax or accounting advice. Your individual circumstances will alter any legal advice given. The views expressed may not reflect the opinions, views or values of PCL Lawyers and belong solely to the author of the content. © PCL Lawyers Pty Ltd.

If you require legal advice specific to your situation please speak to one of our team members today.

About The Author - Emma Restall

Emma is a Partner and leads the Building & Construction team. After completing a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Business from Griffith University in Queensland, she relocated and was admitted...

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