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How to properly handle disputes with builders

June 6, 2019
Resource Centre
How to properly handle disputes with builders
building and contruction dispute
Dispute resolution
minute read

Resolving disputes with a builder, contractor, owner or other building practitioners

Going through the process of having a home, or a commercial property built? If you are lucky, things will run smoothly and you will not have any issues. But it is not uncommon during the a construction project that at some point an issue will arise.

We want to equip you with the knowledge and understanding you need to move through problems with your building project, whether that issue is minor or major, and show you how you can proceed in the event of a dispute with your builder.

Going through a dispute? Contact AANDI Lawyers for comprehensive assistance and advice on pursuing an at-fault party.

What constitutes a building dispute?

When a home or commercial property is being built there are a number of parties who are engaged in the process. You might be working with an engineer, an architect, a builder, and a designer; among others. These professionals will likely also have subcontractors who are working for them.

If there are issues with time constraints, performance, or satisfactory completion of work, then there may be a dispute.

Disputes can cause costly delays

Each of the involved parties will need to be able to work together to complete the project on time. A dispute can cause delays in a project, and can cost money – depending on how it is resolved. It is important to manage a dispute appropriately to save time and money.

Is my dispute actually a dispute?

building and construction dispute resolution

In some instances you might experience a disruption to your project. It can be distressing to go through the process of delays; or works not being completed to an appropriate standard. Here are the best ways to avoid a situation that might become a dispute:

  • In any building project there are variables that cannot be entirely controlled, but in some cases variables can be modified to suit a standard provided that parties are given notice.
  • With many people working on one project, and many standards of performance, it may be that what you view as a dispute might not actually be a dispute; merely something that needs further attention to be rectified.

Delays can form a dispute

It is common for delays to occur in construction projects. Whether your delay forms a dispute is something you need to identify in your contract.

Ultimately, it comes down to the contract you have in place for works, and how the terms are worded as to whether delays or certain types of performance of duties form a dispute.

For example: if the slab has been poured on your building site and works have commenced. An inspection by a structural engineer reveals a defect which is going to cost an additional $14,000 to fix. You will not be responsible for a foundation defect which arises as a result of a problem that the builder should reasonably have identified.

A dispute has arisen. Now what?

foremen going through building and construction dispute resolution

The most important thing you need to do is to ensure you have all the right information and are ready to proceed with whatever action is the most appropriate. What this means is that you need to gather evidence to support any claim you may be making.

1. Gather evidence

This can take the form of keeping records of conversations, including making file notes at any time when you have a phone conversation with someone relevant to your dispute. You might also take pictures of relevant works and/or developments and compile your evidence and place it in order of occurrence or relevance.

2. Talk to the other party

It is almost always best to attempt to resolve a dispute by talking to the other party wherever possible. It is often the most cost effective and simplest way to approach an issue. If you have attempted to resolve your dispute yourself and found that you cannot manage the problem by speaking to the builder or contractor, then you should take the next step of sending a letter or email. In this correspondence you should outline your issue and request a response. Give the other party a date to respond.

3. Make a complaint

If you do not receive a response within a reasonable time frame then you can proceed to making a complaint or taking legal action. You may be able to resolve your matter with dispute resolution or you may need to commence proceedings against the other party.

Get expert legal advice

It is best to get legal advice prior to proceeding with a building disputes so that you know where you stand and how to resolve them. We can assist you with understanding how to approach things, and whether you have a cause of action at all.

Contact AANDI Lawyers to find out more about how we can help you with building and construction dispute resolution.

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