Thanks to the currently low interest rates, many Australians are opting to undertake a new build. Those considering this route should, however, be aware of their rights and responsibilities before commencing such a project, especially when it comes to navigating disputes with a builder.
In all cases of building disputes, it is always best to first address the builder directly and try to find a solution (note: keeping a written record of these interactions is advisable). It’s also the owner’s responsibility to uphold the builder’s right to fix an issue first before taking matters further, and it often proves in the interest of both parties to do so. However, owners do withhold the right to employ a subcontractor, especially in cases where a fix may require expert intervention (e.g., roofing, paving, plumbing, etc.). Indeed, some owners may even choose to contract numerous subcontractors specialised in specific areas throughout a build rather than one builder for a whole project, depending on their requirements. There are some specialists, such as JB Roofcoating, who cover a particular type of trade not commonly offered by generic painting services.
In cases where a dispute cannot be resolved between the two parties, and/or where the owner cannot or will not employ a subcontractor or new builder, there is the option to lodge a formal complaint. Depending on the state, this complaint may need to be lodged with the local builders’ association, ombudsman, or building legal services department.
To avoid possible disputes with builders in the first place, however, it is best to get multiple quotes and references to ensure that the builder hired to do the work will, in fact, do a good job. It is also the responsibility of an owner to practice reasonableness in their expectations of the work to be done, and make allowances for extenuating circumstances (e.g. quakes, floods, illness, etc.). The best way to ensure a good build is, then, to do good research, be adaptable, and practice clear communication.