You can help to avoid a dispute by taking the time to go through your contract thoroughly, and by getting all agreements in writing. However, due to the complexity of building work, disputes can still arise. If a problem occurs, you should first try to resolve it yourself. Contact your tradesperson, explain the problem clearly and calmly, and ask that it be corrected. You might arrange a time to meet and discuss a solution. Most disputes can be resolved in this way. Remember to keep a record of your discussions and to get any agreements in writing.
When you can’t reach an agreement.
In this case, there are places you can go for assistance.
If the value of the work is between $6,000 and $200,000 and the contract was signed after 4 April 1992, the Home Building Contracts Act provides you with the Building Disputes Committee. This gives both you and the tradesperson a simple, inexpensive process for resolving disagreements. The Committee deals with a wide variety of disputes, including:
- Disputes Resulting from you or the tradesperson breaking the terms of a contract.
- Disputes resulting from you or the tradesperson not complying with the Home Building Contracts Act.
- Disputes resulting from your belief that the work has not been performed to a reasonable standard.
Applying to the Disputes Committee.
Before you make an application to the Building Disputes Committee, you must write to the tradesperson or builder, clearly stating your complaint and asking that the problem be fixed. Allow suitable time for the response, ie 10 working days would normally be considered sufficient.
If the matter is still not resolved, you may then apply to the Building Disputes Committee. Application forms are available from the offices of the Builders’ Registration Board.
Once you’ve lodged your application, you will be notified of the time and place for inspecting or hearing. The Registrar may first try to resolve the problem with you and the builder or tradesperson. If either you or the builder or tradesperson are dissatisfied with the Registrars decision, you could ask the Building Disputes Committee to review that decision.
The Building Disputes Committee has the power to make an order or vary the Registrar’s order and its decision is legally binding on both you and the contractor.
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