When you are building or renovating your home and a dispute arises between you and your builder then you should take the following steps:
1. Speak to the builder and try to come to a resolution through open and positive communication;
2. If that fails then check your building contract to see if there is a dispute resolution clause that requires certain procedures to be followed. For example, clause 27 of the NSW Fair Trading Home Building Contract for work over $20,000.00 requires one party to give the other prompt written notice of the dispute. However, it then provides that, if the dispute is not resolved informally, the parties “may” confer with a mediator or expert to assist;
3. If the dispute remains unresolved then, provided there are no other mandatory procedures to be followed under the building contract, you can contact NSW Fair Trading to assist with regard to major defects within the 6 year statutory warranty period and minor defects within the 2 year statutory warranty period;
4. NSW Fair Trading will attempt to negotiate a satisfactory outcome between the builder and yourself. If that fails then a Fair Trading Building Inspector will be sent on-site to inspect the work in dispute. If appropriate, he will issue a Rectification Order which will set a date by which work is to be rectified or completed; and
5. If you are not satisfied with the Rectification Order or if it is not complied with then you may lodge a claim with the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (“NCAT”) which can hear matters up to the value of $500,000.00. For matters over this figure you would have to make a claim with a Court.