WA Contract Law - Confusion Over Master Builders Contract

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Sam B

3 October 2015
I signed the contract (Home Building Works Contract HBW2012 / Master Builders) with Builder on 30/03/2015 to build my house. By 03/09/2015, builder received all necessary approvals by relevant authorities in order to start work.

According to the contract Clause 10 it says "The builder must commence the works within 10 working days of the issue of all necessary approvals. But the builder says "Please refer to Page 12 of your contract. Clause 11 a (1)

"We are allowed 45 days to process orders from the date we received your Building Permit. "

Clause 11 a (1) says " a building permit being issued in respect to the works within 45 working days from the date of the contract."

As far as I understand they must start works within 10 working days from the date of 03/09/2015. But they say they have 45 days to start from the date of 03/09/2015.

Could you kindly inform me according to the contract and contract law which one is correct? Do they have to start works within 10 working days of the issue of all necessary approvals or 45 days?

Many Thanks


Hi Sam B,

There is no straight forward way to interpret an ambiguous contract such as this. If a court were determining the issue it would look at the intention of the parties - i.e. try to determine the meaning that the parties intended. I am guessing that you probably didn't even look at the clauses with respect to commencement before you signed the contract and it was not something that was specifically negotiated.

If there was anything else in the contract that would be inconsistent with either interpretation then the interpretation that led to the least inconsistency would probably be favoured.

Unfortunately, short of taking them to court over this issue (which would be a waste of money and time - unless there was some major financial loss associated with the building work commencing late) you are stuck with negotiating with them over a suitable solution.


Active Member
24 October 2015
From my experience when I was attempting to build a house, these contracts are written to work in favour of the builder. As for court action, there are rarely winners in litigation. It is often a question, of who loses the least. With goodwill on both sides, surely a compromise is available.