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NSW Australian Consumer Law - When is Builder Obligated to Commence Work?

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by Gonefishing, 5 December 2015.

  1. Gonefishing

    Gonefishing Member

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    We have signed a SPASA NSW & ACT pool construction contract and the builder has informed us our understanding of a section of the Construction Period is incorrect. We really need to clarity around this and hoping someone can assist. We refer to page 2 Construction Period "work should commence on site within approximately 4-6 weeks of all necessary building approvals being obtained".

    We understand this to mean the Pool Builder should be on site 4-6 weeks from when the Pool Builder receives written approvals and stamped plans from our Private Certifier.

    Are we correct? If we are not correct, when is the Pool Builder obligated to commence work under Australian Consumer Law?

    The Pool Builder, after many weeks of trying to communicate with them, have advised us they will be on site closer to 8-10 weeks after the above-mentioned approvals were received by them ("but this could be delayed, we don't like to promise anything in writing" after we requested they put it in writing).

    Thank you sincerely for any comments or opinions.
     
  2. JS79

    JS79 Well-Known Member

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    The word "should" really gives them a leeway in regards to the time that they need to be onsite.
     
    Rod likes this.
  3. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    Give them the 10 weeks and see what happens. Pushing earlier is not a good idea. You don't want pissed off workmen building a pool.

    Keep correspondence friendly, say how keen you are to use 'their pool', looking forward to showcasing the pool to family and friends this summer etc etc.

    And remove from your thinking that the pool will be ready this summer. It will colour your thinking if you are hoping to use the pool this summer. An angry customer is likely to put to the bottom of their work orders and you become a 'fill-in job'.

    And remember that sometimes businesses are let down by their suppliers, parts are not always available no matter how much the business may want the part.
     
  4. Gonefishing

    Gonefishing Member

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    JS79 and Rod - thank you for your responses.

    So 'should' gives them leeway. But legally how much leeway can they take? 2 weeks? 6 weeks? 15 weeks? There is being let down by a supplier, extended period of bad weather (neither apply in our case) but at some point when are they breaching the contract? 'Leeway' can't give them a perpetual free pass.

    Rod we have taken your comments on board. To us it seems unfair that we wait 10 weeks (and have near zero communication from this company) only to be possibly told we must wait another 4 weeks. Or 7 weeks. We want to work with the trades. I'm not sure why the trades would be pissed off with us?

    When are we protected by the conditions of the Contract? Why put any timeframe around the Construction Period when the Builder doesn't have to adhere to it and there is no recourse.

    Thank you again. Any further comments will be greatly appreciated.
     
  5. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    Here is a case in point as to why you need to read and understand contracts. If you are not happy with a clause - change it. If the other party refuses to change it without a good reason then you have a pretty good idea as to how things may end up.

    A 'reasonable period' is likely to start at average lead times for pools of the type you ordered in your area. If most people wait 10 weeks before a pool commences then this is reasonable. If your pool is somehow custom or special in some way, then the lead time may be longer. Remember that if the average is 10 weeks (or 5 weeks), then some people are waiting longer. Have you spoken with previous clients of his to find out how this business performs and what their wait times have been?

    If their period of 8-10 weeks is not in writing, recommend you send an email back to them confirming the period and additionally state the reasons why it is important to you for them to meet this time frame (need to arrange leave, change holiday dates, medical reasons, extra costs, other tradies for other work booked in (Gazebo? etc). Might want to suggest in a friendly way that if they are not capable of starting the work as promised then you'd be agreeable to cancelling the contract and have your deposit returned in full (assuming you paid a deposit).

    Something an order of magnitude different might be unreasonable (eg 4-6 months instead of 4-6 weeks).

    Maybe go in and speak with the manger/owner to find out why he has delays.
     

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