Dealing With Defects


Dealing with building defects can be a frustrating experience.

The Queensland Building and Construction Commission has been set up to assist building owners, but bodies corporate need to be on a firm foundation before they lodge a complaint.

The Commission has a specific brief. They can investigate and order rectification on the following matters:

  • Defective building work including both before and after your contract is complete
  • Incomplete work due to bankruptcy, liquidation, your builder not holding a current licence or death
  • Damage to your property caused by building work carried out on a neighbouring property
  • A pre-purchase or pest inspection report that didn’t identify possible defects
  • Building design

First of all, talk to your contractor to see if issues can be resolved without involving a third party. Make sure that all defects are clearly outlined and documented. Give the builder a reasonable length of time (about 14 days) to respond and begin repairs.

Secondly, know the terminology. The commission deals with the following two areas:

Structural defects – this covers things like a leaking roof, leaking shower, and issues that impact on the health and safety of an occupier.

Non-structural defects – these are defects which are more functional and cosmetic such as sticking doors or windows, minor cracking of plasterboard, etc.

However, they do not investigate:

  • Complaints about electrical work. Contact the Electrical Safety Office for help
  • Complaints about meeting contract conditions or payment disputes. Please refer to QCAT‘s building disputes page for more information.
  • Complaints where the work value is $3,300 or under (including labour materials and GST) – excluding plumbing, drainage, gas fitting, termite management chemical system installation, building design and completed building inspections which can be investigated regardless of the value

Thirdly, be aware of the timeframes. The rules have changed in the past year.

If your contract was entered into prior to 10 October 2014, you must lodge a complaint within 3 months of noticing a structural defect that appears within 6 years and 3 months from practical completion and you have up to 7 months after practical completion to lodge a complaint for non-structural defects.

If your contract was entered into prior to 10 October 2014, you must lodge a complaint within 3 months of noticing a structural defect that appears within 6 years and 3 months from practical completion and you have up to 7 months after practical completion to lodge a complaint with us for non-structural defects.

For non-structural defects, if noticed within the first 6 months from when the work was completed, you should request (in writing) that your contactor fix the defect. If it is not fixed after 6 months (the expiration of the warranty period), you can lodge a complaint but you will need to send it in no later than 12 months from completion of the work.

Once you have the foundations in place, you can begin to build your case. The QBCC’s web site has a step by step online lodgement service for complaints.

To prepare, make sure you have the following information ready including:

  • The building owner details
  • The location of the building
  • A letter of authorisation to state that your acting on the owners behalf
  • The name, address and contact details of the builder including, ABN/ACN and QBCC Licence number
  • Certificate of classification

The commission may also require the following documentation:

  • Rates notice, water rates notice or current title search
  • Community Title Scheme document
  • Copies of correspondence with the builder
  • Quotes, contracts and other documentation relating to the original work
  • A survey plan, and if relevant,
  • The purchase contract and the pre-purchase inspection reports.

 

-Source for this article: Queensland Building and Construction Commission.



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