Building disputes, building reports, defects in new homes, what you should know.

If you have a building dispute and you need to take it further you will need professionally prepared building defect report to identify defects, reference them to breaches of warranty, breaches of contract and standards. You will then need estimate of cost to rectify defects an that should be prepared by a building cost expert. For VCAT claim you need two things:

Proof of defects (liability of builder to fix is assumed but in practice it can be a problem to prove as we can see with slab heave defects)

Proof of damages (cost to rectify)

Many people will choose to go to Consume Affairs (because it’s free) with their complaint and whilst the service is competent ( I have no beef with Consumer Affairs) and in many cases can help settle disputes it is limited and has no power of enforcement. Many builders know this and will simply ignore the process or will play along and then ignore. The signals I get from my customers are mixed. Sometimes they think it was useful and sometimes that it’s a waste of time.

Consumer Affairs will have defect report prepared for you and by law the report is VCAT compliant but that is where the usefulness stops. (Consumer Affairs is in partnership with Building Commission and that is it’s biggest failing). I have been a log time critic of Building Commission for a very simple reason that the reports are sub standard and that Building Commission (believe it or not) condones defective building work.See for yourself:

Building Commission should be upholding standards, do you think it does that? In my book any organisation that produces a document called “The Guide to Standards and Tolerances” and then ignores it has no credibility and is well past its use by date and should be discarded.

So if you are a consumer and you have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for your new home and the brickwork is outside tolerances and looks like crap, Building Commission is saying to you: Let it go.

But in addition to that here are other serious shortcomings as detailed below:

Building Commission Inspector will only look at the items on your list, that means other defects (how will you know) are ignored.

Building Commission inspector will not review your drawings, contract and specification, so defects will be either missed or misdiagnosed.

Building Commission Inspector will not give you any advice in relation to your contract, variations, extensions of time, adjustments or any other matter.

Building Commission will not produce cost to rectify report. They will hang you out to dry (go somewhere else)

Building Commission Inspector will not appear at VCAT hearing as expert witness, so if the other side has their experts, you will be outgunned because you will have no one to contest their evidence.

What’s the moral of this blog? If you can get your report for free it’s probably not worth having and may actually be harmful to your complaint. A bad report will give builder somewhere to hide. Think about it.

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