Most people are aware of the need to ensure that appropriate paperwork is in place before commissioning a major building project. What’s less widely considered is the necessity of making relevant checks before contracting with a builder to undertake smaller pieces of work, particularly those worth less than $5,000. If you’re planning a modest home improvement or repair job, ensure you check the points listed below in order to maximise your chances of a trouble free project and avoid building disputes.
Builder experience, qualifications and track record
Obviously it makes sense to ensure that your preferred company can demonstrate suitable expertise. Why not ask them for references or to see examples of their previous work? As an example, in Victoria, plumbers and gas fitters must be registered with the Victorian Building Authority, while electricians must be registered with Energy Safe Victoria. Suitably licensed personnel will carry their registration card with them. In NSW, you can undertake a free, online home building licence check on the relevant company.
Not only should builders be suitably insured to protect you in the event that they die or disappear, they should also have appropriate Public Liability Insurance. Insurance is a legal requirement in many states for projects that cost more than $5,000, but it’s wise to insist on it for smaller jobs. Even losing just a few hundred dollars to an unscrupulous builder who does a runner can be a heavy financial burden to bear.
Use a contract to minimise building disputes
It’s always wise to have a contract in place which clearly lays out what work will be undertaken, the project’s timetable, cost and any other relevant considerations. Although this isn’t a legal requirement for smaller projects, having the correct paperwork in place helps to protect both parties involved in the proceedings.
Although checking paperwork and insisting on a contract may mean that negotiations take a little longer, ultimately it results in providing greater assurance to customers that they are dealing with a reputable company that won’t let them down. Taking time to ensure your chosen builder is the right person for the job minimises the risk of later building disputes and helps make sure your building work gets you the results you want – on time and to budget. This is where getting legal advice from a property lawyer can be an advantage for you.
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