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Building disputes lawyers for homeowners

The expert, affordable legal advice you need to get a resolution quickly

There aren’t many situations more stressful, disheartening and overwhelming than being involved in a dispute with your builder. After all, the vast majority of builders do great work – yet you seem to have picked the ‘bad apple’.

You just wanted to build your dream home… or simply renovate your kitchen. And now this.

Crucial project milestones have been missed… and then missed again. You feel like the work hasn’t been done properly according to the plan. Suddenly there are variations that just don’t seem reasonable. Or you simply think the work you’ve been presented with is, well, shoddy. And the dream is slowly but surely turning into a nightmare.
When should you carry out stage inspections?


Now, you feel ripped off. Cheated. Embarrassed that the trust you put in your builder was misplaced – as if that’s your fault somehow.

When this happens to you, it’s so important (and such a relief) to know you can count on having expert legal advice on your side.

MDL’s experienced Construction Law team can work with you to help resolve your building dispute – and what’s more, get things resolved quickly, so that you can move on with your building project.


How we work to resolve your building disagreement quickly

It’s the little things behind the scenes that make a world of difference to how your building dispute is resolved. MDL’s construction law team have the in-house systems, support and resources needed to get things happening quickly for you.

Meet our Building Disputes lawyers here

We know the steps to take. What works. And how to get it done. We’ll focus on helping you reach the best outcome for your building dispute.


Cost-effective legal advice about building disputes

Hand-in-hand with this ability is our understanding of your need for a cost-effective solution. After all, when you set out to build or renovate your home, you probably didn’t factor legal costs into your budget!

That’s why we work with you to manage your legal costs. We’ll provide you with an overall estimate of fees from the start, advise you of our progress, and update you on any impact on fees. We’ll help you feel like you’re always in control.


Get down-to-earth advice from a specialist construction law team

Start on the right foot and get advice from a dedicated building and construction law team.

For experienced advice and assistance with your building dispute, contact McCarthy Durie Lawyers here or talk to us on 3370 5100.


Frequently asked questions:

My new home build is taking way longer that I thought it would. How can I double check when the build was due to finish?

The contract with your builder will detail a building period, plus days for inclement weather. However, this building period may be extended if there have been any variations or extension of time requests from your builder.

So to calculate the correct length of the home build you need to:

  • Know the commencement date
  • Add in the building period (including days for inclement weather)
  • Add any additional days provided for in approved variations, and
  • Add extension of time claims.

This will provide you with the anticipated completion date.


What are my rights when my new home build has gone way past the anticipated completion date?

If the builder goes beyond the anticipated completion date, your contract will most likely provide for liquidated damages to compensate you for the delay. The way in which the liquidated damages are calculated, and are to be paid to you, will be completely dependent upon the drafting of your contract.


Should I pay my builder’s invoice if I’m not sure that all the work has been done?

As the build progresses the builder cannot claim any payment (except for the deposit) unless:

  • It is directly related to the progress of carrying out the work; and
  • The amount claimed is proportionate to the value of the work carried out, or less than that value.

This means a builder cannot claim payment for their work unless it has been completed.

If you are unsure whether the work has been completed, the practical solution is to have an independent building inspection conducted. This will determine if all of the work the builder has invoiced you for has been completed.

It is recommended that you do not pay the builder for the invoice until you are satisfied that the work has been completed. However, there are most likely to be time frames in which to respond to invoices under your contract. If you miss these time frames, there may be negative implications for you.

That’s why we suggest that you review your contract to check whether you are required to serve any notices on the builder, should you wish to dispute an invoice. 


What should I do if I think my builder has gone bust?

The first step is to conduct either a bankruptcy search (for a person) or an ASIC search (for companies) to determine if your builder has either gone into bankruptcy or liquidation. If they have, there may be mechanisms available under your contract for notices to be served to effect a termination of the contract. Once your contract has been validly terminated, you are then entitled to make a claim under QBCC Home Warranty Insurance for incomplete work.


Can I drop in to check progress on my new home build site any time I like?

This answer will be determined by your contract; however most common contracts for new home builds provide that at commencement of work, possession of the site is handed over to the builder. This means you do not have the right to enter the site without the express permission of the builder. Your contract may even state that you need to expressly seek written permission from the builder to enter the site.

Regardless of the exact details of your contract, you continue to have a right to access the building site for the purpose of inspecting the works under the Queensland Building & Construction Commission Act 1991. Your builder cannot deny you reasonable access to the site to confirm the progress of the works. However, we recommend that you seek written permission from the builder – it’s not recommended that you attend on site without the builder’s permission.


After building a new home and moving in, I have now found lots of problems I didn’t pick up in the handover. What should I do?

You need to refer to your contract to determine the defects liability period for your build. For new homes in Queensland, the most commonly used contracts provide for a 12 month defect liability period. In this period, your builder must rectify any defects which they are notified of.

We also recommend that you review your contract to determine how you must notify your builder, and notify them in compliance with your contract. If the builder doesn’t rectify the defects after they’ve been notified, you will have avenues of complaint to the QBCC, and ultimately to commence proceedings in either the Queensland Civil & Administration Tribunal, or the Magistrates Court, seeking an order for rectification, or compensation by way of damages. 


My builder has lost their QBCC licence, but they’ve said they are happy to complete my job. Is this ok?

Any person conducting construction work in Queensland must have the applicable QBCC licence. If they don’t have the required licence, they are in breach of legislative requirements.

In circumstances where your builder no longer holds a valid QBCC licence, you should review your contract and serve any required notice to your builder, seeking that they immediately rectify the issue by having their licence reinstated.

If they’re unable to have their licence reinstated within the time frames required under your contract, you may then have a right to terminate the contract. If your contract is validly terminated, you will have a right to claim for unpaid work under the QBCC Home Warranty Insurance Scheme.