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WA Building Contract and Dispute with Builder

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by Splusk, 6 April 2016.

  1. Splusk

    Splusk Member

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    Basically, the builder we contracted to build our house has failed to complete. We have submitted a complaint to the Building Commissioner, who had accepted the complaint and passed it onto SAT. SAT had an initial hearing in March, which the builder never attended claiming they were not aware.

    Subsequently, another hearing was arranged for 3 weeks after that date. The builder attended and stated he would have it completed by end April 16. To date, no work has been carried out and I've been advised that the builder is on holidays for the next week. I'm looking for some guidance and / or advice on a strategy to "force" the builder to completing the working to a date set by SAT, or paying costs for someone else to finish the build, or pay a specific amount with compensation and claim costs to enable us to contract specific work to be done

    The Contractual build time was 180 working days from end July 2014; therefore, the construction should have been completed late Feb /early Mar 2015. It is now 12 months on and the construction is still not completed.

    In March 2015, we were advised that the construction of the house would be completed by June 2015, and then advise the end of Jul 2015 as per the detailed construction activity schedule provided to me at a site meeting in April 2015.

    I had advised builder on numerous occasions from April 2014 that we intended to place our current home onto the market based upon the construction schedule provided and his “rock solid guarantee” with the view to moving into the new premises on August 15 . It sold within 10 days. However even after the continual ongoing assurances, the house was still unfinished.

    Our situation was further compounded by the fact that we had no tenant history, and we found it extremely difficult to secure a rental. Consequently, we lived in our caravan for 2 weeks whilst waiting on a response to our requests (email, phone calls) for revised construction completion dates from the builder, which were all never answered.

    Regrettably, due to the insecure situation, and no communication from the builder it left us with no choice but to purchase a very small 2 bedroom unit with the view to selling once the situation has been resolved, as we had no idea how long this was going to be. All costs to purchase, relocate and storage of furniture and caravan/boat have been borne by us.

    The builder finally turned up at the site in Oct 15 and said that they would have the house completed by end Nov, then again end Dec 15. When it wasn't anywhere near completion, we gave notice to the builder of our intention to submit a complaint to the Building Commission on Jan 16. As explain previously, it is now with SAT and a new hearing is scheduled for April.

    I understand that the builder has 4 other clients at various stages of construction and I'm only surmising her but, I'd say they are juggling cash flow.

    Thank you.
     
  2. Sophea

    Sophea Well-Known Member

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    Hi Splusk, I would speak with a lawyer about this.

    Delayed completion may be grounds for you to seek liquidated damages. Did your contract state the original specific date for completion and handover? Is there also a penalty clause which states that if the date is not met, then damages are payable? Depending on how your contract is written, damages are sometimes payable based on either “working days” or “calendar days”.

    Sometimes a specific amount e.g. $30 per calendar day is agreed upon by the parties at contract signing. In other contracts where no specific amount is mentioned, it will be a question of fact and proof as to the damages incurred as a result of the delay will be required. Usually, these include loss of rent, additional interest payable etc.
     
  3. Splusk

    Splusk Member

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    Many thanks for your reply. The contract states 180 days from slab pour. The slab invoice was issued 27 Jul 14. The contract does not stipulate any penalties for delay although I do remember very clearly that he stayed to my wife's question about delays that if it occurred he would be paying us. Unfortunately, we didn't ask for clarification at the time.

    Yes, I'm currently looking for a lawyer as we have our hearing on the 31 May. He, the builder hasn't been to any of the hearings so we intend on terminating the contract and continue with the build- depending upon advise.
     
  4. Pishu

    Pishu Member

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    Hi, guys,

    I signed a contract with a builder to build a house, but it's already been a year since he last built something. Then I cancelled the contract through consumer affairs. But he didn't return my deposit money which is around 20 k.

    Can VCAT help me to get my deposit back? And what other options do I have ?
     
  5. Sophea

    Sophea Well-Known Member

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    VCAT is a tribunal. They don't help you get your money per se. You can apply to them to have your dispute determined. You would need to make a claim for breach of contract or similar. If you did this you would need to produce copies of all contracts, receipts etc as evidence of your case to prove your side of the story.

    Building and Construction | VCAT
     

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