When is building variation not a variation

Recently I have been helping a couple with theit build with critical stage inspections. I did pre contract review, pre slab inspection, frame inspection and pre plaster inspection. It was plain and uneventfull sailing with the issues picked up during inspections attended by builder and resolved. And then it happened.

Builder constructed a large round stormwater pump and retention pit smack right in front entrance when in the drawings it was shown tucked away neatly on one side. Owners were furious complaining back to the builder. Builder at first ignored them the offered lame excuses, could not build pit right next to the side fence, too hard, we might have hit some rock and it would have been extra. The real story is that when the plumber came to site to install drainage pit, the location had large pipe of builder’s rubbish. So the plumber merely moved it across for his convenience. Builder arrogantly behaved as if they had right to change location of the pit (which incidentally was part of engineered drainage) as they like to their convenience and without owner’s consent.

But there was more. I then discovered that owners were served (unknown to me) with a post contract variation of 12K for the engineered stormwater draiange system. Not knowing better and without asking me they paid. I took one look at it and said Nah! This was not a variation as the stormwater system was already included in the contract.

I also advised owners that builder is not allowed to vary contract works wothout owner’s consent and in this case for his convenience.

I then composed email tha t owners sent to the builder

“I have reviewed your documentation and visited the site. I am able to confirm that the drainage installation is not nonconformant to the contract drawings.
I am able to confirm that variation does not comply with requirements of DBCA1995 and is therefore not valid
You should write to the builder and ask why is variation required and why was your consent not obtained beforehand”

And Voila!

Builder knew the game was up and immediately cancelled the variation and refunded 12K. Builder then arranged on site to construct decking and steps over entry and in front of the dwelling to owner’s design and satisfaction at builder’s cost.

Having your expert in the cloud whilst you build could save you more than money.

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