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WA Can I End a Building Contract 13 Months into It?

Discussion in 'Property Law Forum' started by Cassandra4, 27 February 2015.

  1. Cassandra4

    Cassandra4 Well-Known Member

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    Hi there,
    I've posted a few times before which may provide people with my background story:
    WA - Home Builder Missing Completion Dates - Next step? | LawAnswers.com.au Legal Aid Forums and WA - Extension of Building Contract with No Compensation for Delay? | LawAnswers.com.au Legal Aid Forums

    But basically, my slab went down early January 2014, the initial 220 days contract period ended in November 2014. A new signed variation was issued with the completion date as late January 2015. That came and went and now myself and my partner have said if it's not completed by April, we will issue a complaint to the building commission... Which the builder acknowledged. I am almost certain the house will not be completed by then - we have been waiting on the tiles for the better part of this year, and in the last 3 weeks they've been put back a week.

    This builder does not have a good reputation through reviews and forums online and most build times seem similar (over 15 months)...

    I know this may be a long shot, but trying to be proactive about this situation - can I ask the builder to get out of this contract? Or maybe that could be the remedy I seek from the building commission complaint? Would I have a leg to stand on under property law? I do not really want to pay to get out of the contract, nor do I think I should have to given the long delays, the excuses and all the written evidence I have with false trade dates and promises the house will be completed in 220 days.
     
  2. Michael T

    Michael T Well-Known Member

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    Yes, raise those facts and the requested remedy with the building commission in your complaint.
    If you can't get a resolution through the building commission, then engage a property lawyer: Get Connected with the Right Lawyer for You
     
    Cassandra4 likes this.
  3. Cassandra4

    Cassandra4 Well-Known Member

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    Okay - if I was to do this as my requested remedy with the building commission… is it likely to cost me a lot of money? If I was to owner build, and the house is at lock-up stage, do I need to resubmit new plans and apply for a building license? (costing me a lot of money)
     
  4. Michael T

    Michael T Well-Known Member

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    Costs will depend on what you negotiate
     
  5. Naweed S

    Naweed S Active Member

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    Hi Cassandra4,

    I googled building commission WA process times and came across your eerily similar situation.

    We are more or less in the same boat: Our builder is well over time, impossible to get hold of and has weeks of silence at a time. What's worse is that they have never informed us of extensions of delay throughout the whole process. We signed the stock standard HIA contract. I too wish to terminate contract and ready to engage a lawyer to do so but have had no luck finding another builder to take on project as we've reached lock up.

    We followed the proposed building commission guidelines for disputes and issued a formal notice of complaint to the builder. No response nor acknowledgement received in the allowed 14 days.

    I am about to lodge official complaint now and wanted to ask if you've had any luck with the commission and how long the followup took? Would be immensely grateful if you could pass on any advice at all.
     
  6. Cassandra4

    Cassandra4 Well-Known Member

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    Sorry to hear about your build!

    Since posting this question, my builder has become insolvent, and I had to reach a settlement with my home indemnity insurer and have signed with a new builder. Unfortunately I am still not in the house yet some 18 months after slab down but we are getting there!

    Thankfully we didn't choose to terminate the contract. I'd suggest your remedy to have the house completed by a certain date that you see reasonable. This is the route we ended up going and submitting to the builder at the time, and the building commissioner. We paid the complaint fee and submitted our complaint, with the building commissioner than issuing a remedy order with a completion date. The remedy order is a court order as far as I'm aware. Unfortunately, the complaint was scrapped once the builder went insolvent...

    I hope this info has helped in some way? My suggestion is to not terminate in the case your builder does go insolvent and then you cannot receive your pay out to finish your house from the insurer!
     
  7. Naweed S

    Naweed S Active Member

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    Hi Cassandra4,

    Thank you so much for your prompt response. What a nightmare. We know the feeling of almost getting there with your life basically on hold for a year or more and then having to go through more issues to get it resolved.

    Noted about not terminating. I will lodge my complaint with the commission and see how I go.

    Good luck with yours!
     
  8. perthgranny

    perthgranny Active Member

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    Hi Naweed,

    My situation is almost the same. completion date has passed a month ago. I lodged a complaint to building commission but they say the procedure takes upto 8 weeks. have you got a response from building commission?
     
  9. Naweed S

    Naweed S Active Member

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    Hi perthgranny,

    Sorry to hear! Our build was over time by about 6 months when we decided to take action. We were far too patient..

    Anyway, yes I did hear back from the commission. Very promptly in fact within a week of submitting the complaint.

    So initially I followed process of sending the proposed notice of complaints to the builder and giving them 14 days to respond. They didn't respond so I went to the commission with the same complaints notice. The commission then contacted me within a week and discussed my complaints over the phone and advised which complaints would be accepted and then escalated. They were very helpful and accommodating actually. Not what I expected from a government department! Thereafter, they have since issued the complaint to the builder and has given them 14 days to then respond. I am half way through this period at the moment.

    So between submitting the complaint on 16th July, it has only taken bout 2 weeks for them to present the builder with an official notice. So in total from start to finish, I suppose you would be looking at 8 weeks including conciliation. In our case, going through 8 weeks was far better than letting the builders take their own sweet time. This way I thought I could force them into setting a completion date which if they pass, will be liable for penalties (one of my complaints, which was accepted).

    My advice as to what the complaint items should entail is to ensure that all complaints are building service or contractually related. The good thing with the commission though is that they will work with you to advise you of whether a complaint is acceptable or not in the eyes of the commission. Seemed very daunting to me at first but once you work through it, it's actually not very hard to put together a complaints case as described on the commission website. They have very good guidance as to how to approach the whole situation.

    Link here: Building service and home building work contract complaints | Department of Commerce

    As a start, perhaps one way would be to pre-warn the builder that you're considering action with the commission and then see how they react.
     
  10. perthgranny

    perthgranny Active Member

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    thanks for prompt reply. I sent the preliminary letter to the builder 14 days before I lodged the formal complaint. lt looks like building commission wants me to send the notice. officer is considering to accept my preliminary letter but not sure what is happening. if I have to send the notice, I have to wait another 14 days. are we able to get a compensation from the builder? if so, is it only about $40 per day? or can we add more?
     

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