How to resolve a dispute with your home builder

The steps you can take to resolve your problem as soon as possible 

While building a new home or completing a renovation can be very exciting, unfortunately sometimes it can also be a very stressful time. Most builders do great work – yet from time to time, disputes with your builder cannot be avoided. 

If you do have a dispute with your builder, it’s important to follow the correct procedure to make the resolution process as straightforward and stress-free as it can be.

Here are three steps you can take to resolve a building dispute as soon as possible.

Step 1) Know your building contract

Depending on the nature of the dispute with your builder, you may have obligations under your contract to take certain actions. For example, this may involve serving written notices on your builder within specific time frames.

Certain rights under your contract may be limited if you don’t adhere to these time frames. That’s why it’s important that you understand your contract completely, and know what your obligations are.

Once you understand these obligations, ensure you comply with any required notices, and contact your builder to try and resolve the dispute.

Is your building contract up to scratch?

Remember that it’s best to keep all negotiations with your builder in writing. That way you’ll have a complete record, and there are no misunderstandings as to your intentions.

When writing to your builder, make sure you:

  • Make it easy to understand
  • Keep your language professional, and avoid emotive language
  • Be clear as to how you would like the issue resolved, and
  • Provide clear time lines in which you would like a response, as required under your contract.

If you’re unable to resolve the dispute directly with your builder, the next step in the dispute resolution process is to make a complaint to QBCC.

Step 2) Make a complaint to the QBCC

The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) is a statutory authority established to regulate the Queensland building industry.

You can lodge a complaint with the QBCC online. The QBCC will work with you to attempt to reach a resolution with your builder, including offering dispute resolution services.

If you’re unable to reach a resolution after following the dispute resolution process with QBCC, you should then file a claim with QCAT.

QBCC will issue you with a certificate that shows you’ve gone through the QBCC dispute resolution process – which is compulsory prior to commencing proceedings with QCAT.

Step 3) File a claim with QCAT

The Queensland Civil & Administrative Tribunal (QCAT)) is an independent, accessible tribunal that’s designed to provide a quick, inexpensive avenue to resolve disputes between parties and make decisions. You can access QCAT’s forms and process and forms online.  

While QCAT has a limit of $25,000 for minor debt claims, this does not apply to domestic building disputes. In fact the jurisdiction of QCAT for domestic building disputes is unlimited – so even if your dispute is for more than $25,000, you can still file a claim with QCAT. 

Once you have filed your claim with QCAT, they will be in contact to advise you of the next steps you must complete to process your claim. 

As an alternative to QCAT, you may choose to file a claim and statement of claim in the Magistrates Court. This may be more suitable for more complicated domestic building disputes.

If you’re successful with a QCAT hearing, the judgement can be registered in the Magistrates Court the same as any other judgement, and can then be enforced in the Queensland court system. 

Contact McCarthy Durie Lawyers for advice on domestic building disputes

If you have a domestic building dispute and you’re unsure about your rights and obligations under your contract, McCarthy Durie Lawyers can help. Contact our experienced Building and Construction Law team on 3370 5100 or fill out the contact form here.

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