NSW Contractual dispute with architect - help

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Aviram Vijh

Active Member
24 October 2018
7
0
31
Hi all,

I sought help from an architect in Tasmania to provide some preliminary concepts for how a possible house could be built on a piece of land I own there. They provided me with some rough drafts and we had a few rounds around possibilities/options.

However, I failed to secure finance for the construction and am not able to continue with the construction for the time being. The architect has sent me an invoice at a fee which we never agreed to. I've explained this to them but they say that we discussed the fee over the phone (we never did). Needless to say, we didn't sign any contract or even exchange an email about the fees.

Now they are saying that they will refer me to a debt collection agency as I am liable to pay them under Building and Construction Industry (Security of Payment) Act 2009. I am not the sort of person who doesn't wish to pay, but cost they are seeking is totally incongruent with the work (and the market practice where this sort of preliminary work is often done for free).

Can someone please advise?

Thanks,
Avi
 

Tripe

Well-Known Member
22 May 2017
220
13
619
From previous experience

Architects normally quote a percentage fee of the completed build (let’s say 10%)

As the build is not going to occur, they are obviously after some form of payment

1 A professional architect will normally only do work after they have sent you a contract that you need to sign that lists all professional fees payable

2 read any paper work that may of been sent to you to see if it mentions their service fees.

3 the income of security act (If applicable ) allows them to go to a court to get court orders for outstanding fees.

The thing to note,

- the disputed invoice will need to say ( this invoice is being made under the income of security act etc,etc) if the invoice does not have this wording, then they can’t take it to the court and claim under the act

- when served with an invoice (under the builders security of income act) you have 14 or 21 days (use google to check in tas) to write to the architect, why you dispute their invoice

4 if you don’t dispute the payment in writing and the date for a formal reply passes, the architect can go to court, the judge will only take notice of written evidence (their invoice ) as you did not challenge it, the judge will make courts orders to recover the amount from you.


I hope this helps

I reckon the architect is full of shite, And you will have a lot of leverage if their is no signed contract with a schedule of fees
 
Last edited:

Aviram Vijh

Active Member
24 October 2018
7
0
31
Hi Tripe

Thanks for your response. Like mentioned, there was no contract signed (oral or verbal). The funny thing is that the email with the invoice actually includes a quote for up for the actual work (as in some ways this was preliminary work that is hand sketched).

The only problem is that I responded to that email after a month of so as I was outside the country due to a family emergency (this is noted my in response so not making it up). In my first response itself I raised the question of how they've arrived at this numbers in the invoice because it was arbitrary.

The act quoted is the "Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 2009".

I have another question. Let's assume that during one of our conversations, the architect mentioned that he'll charge say $20 for the initial sketches. The invoice contains so many things (research, admin costs, some other design costs etc.) which were not mentioned/confirmed either. Is someone able to just pile on things like that? Seems very unprofessional and borderline fraud to me.

Thanks,

Avi
 

Rod

Lawyer
LawTap Verified
27 May 2014
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2,894
You engaged the services of a professional in a professional capacity. They did work for you at your request.

You need to pay something.

Whether the amount is reasonable depends on the work that was done.
 

Aviram Vijh

Active Member
24 October 2018
7
0
31
You engaged the services of a professional in a professional capacity. They did work for you at your request.

You need to pay something.

Whether the amount is reasonable depends on the work that was done.
Yes Rod, I've not refused to pay money. I have a fair idea of what should be a legitimate price but there is day light between what I expect and what they have invoiced which is frustrating especially in the absence of a contract or agreement!
 

Rod

Lawyer
LawTap Verified
27 May 2014
7,129
958
2,894
Your options are:

1. Pay nothing, wait to see if you get sued.
2. Pay what you think is reasonable, and wait to see if you get sued for the remainder.
3. Pay the full amount and put it down to experience.
4. Attempt mediation. See Service providers