More often than not, people go through the experience of having a new home or home extension built, and are happy to get through the process ‘without too many problems’. In fact, it seems that a building project is one of the only things we buy where we’re happy if we get through it with only a small number of minor disputes. Is this really the best way? Surely we should be able to have our home built without fighting with the builder.
We see cases every day where a building dispute becomes a major problem, ending up in a formal dispute process in the courts. Any time this happens, the costs involved ensure that everybody loses.
In the next few articles, we will be showing you ways to help this ideal come to being. We’ve identified a few steps that will help you avoid ending up in a dispute with your builder. Following these simple steps should reduce your chances of having a building dispute substantially.
Start With the Contract
There are a number of standard contracts available Australia that can be used as the basis for your contract. Both the Master Builders Association and the Housing Industry Association have very good contracts that can be easily adjusted for your specific circumstances. Using one of these industry standard contracts will ensure that everything that you have a clear agreement on everything that needs to be covered. You can get a copy of the contract from us for less than $20.00.
Once you’re using a good standard contract, keep your eye on the following;
Check the Specification / Scope of Works
Your contract should include a full Specification or Scope of Works, and should fully detail exactly what is going to be included in the building works. This is something that is specific and unique to your contract. Make sure the builder has included as much detail as possible, so that there can be no confusion about what work is to be performed and by whome.
Fully Dimensioned Plans
Be sure that the plans included with your contract have been fully measured, and clearly state the dimensions of each item. Unfortunately, we often see building contracts that either have no plans attached, or where the plans simply dont have enough detail. Remember, the plan is what everyone on site is going to use to put things in the right place. If the detail isnt on the plan, you cant know what to expect.
Clear Stages & Methods of Payment
One of the things covered by your contract is the payment stages and methods of payment. Make sure you know what these are, and that you are going to be able to make the payments on time. You also need to be clear about what work is to have been completed at each stage. When it comes time to make the payments, you should satisfy yourself that the work contained within the stage (per your contract) has been satisfactorily completed BEFORE YOU MAKE PAYMENT. It is a good idea to have a building expert inspect the works at each stage, to make sure that everything is done as is required by the contract. Given the large investment you’re making in your building project, the minimal extra cost of ensureing that it’s done right is simply a must. (Click here if you’d like to enquire further about Stage Inspections)
Engage a Professional To Review The Contract
Various firms can provide you with a contract review for a relatively low price. Most legal firms will be able to help you with this, although a building consultant will also be able to perform this task and may end up being cheaper than your lawyer.
Both Parties Sign Before Work Begins
Although it might seem obvious, if you both havent signed the contract you will find yourself in a real difficulty should a dispute arise. Make sure that both you and your builder have signed the contract prior to work starting. It’s a good idea to have two or three copies of the contract (each signed) so that you can both keep original copies.
We Can Help
As a firm of building experts, Buildspect can help you through this journey. If you’d like to enquire about getting a copy of the industry contracts, having a contract review performed, or having stage inspections carried out on your building project, contact us online or call us directly on 1300 088 800 - we’d be happy to help.
In future entries in our blog we’ll be discussing other ways to avoid a dispute with your builder, so join us on Twitter or keep coming back to our site to check for the updates.