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QLD Dispute Regarding Contract with Builder?

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by rps2016, 11 April 2016.

  1. rps2016

    rps2016 Active Member

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    Hi Law Answers,

    We're building a new home with a large nationwide builder. There's been a bit of a problem because the estate that we're building on is a bit unusual in the way of its electricity supply works. Our estate is set up like a body corporate, so some normal, usual things don't apply. In a normal street, Energex would supply electricity to a green box that is located at the front of a property - this is the electrical supply point. Then, an individual's electricity meter would be hung off the side of the house.

    In our estate, Energex supplies power to a central electricity supply point, which is a big silver box that actually contains all the electricity meters for each of the 23 houses in the estate. The power from there feeds directly out to each house via a series of underground conduits.

    Fast forward to us building our home. Within our contract, we're meant to be getting a 20kw ducted AC unit.

    Unfortunately, because our meter (in the central silver box on the estate) has been connected as a single-phase meter (like everyone else's on the estate), the power reaching our house is single phase only, and the 20kw ducted AC unit requires 3-phase power.

    As a solution, our builder wants to replace that unit with 2x single phase units and charge us $5000 for the difference. Not only are they not supplying what's promised in the contract, and charging us for the difference, the 2x single phase unit is unheard of (as told to us be several experts) and would be very costly to run (a single 3-phase AC unit is far more power efficient).

    The following is *actually in our contract*:

    "

    Provide Daikin Inverter 20kw ducted reverse cycle seven zone and ten outlet air-conditioning system including three-phase underground power connection and upgraded meter box in lieu of promotional air-con

    "

    Which reads to me like they've actually foreseen what's required and have actually prepared for it in the contract. When I presented this to them, they countered with another section of the contract, which reads as follows:

    "

    - Single phase underground power connection and run-in (up to and including eight (8) metre plan length) from electricity supply point to external meter box positioned by Builder to minimise run-in length.

    "

    Which they state excludes them from upgrading our underground power connection, because of the 8m length limitation. But when I read it again closely, I read it that they are willing to run supply cables 8m *into* our lot.

    It should be noted that our Builder *has* connected a single-phase connection which is powering our house. The house is not yet complete and we've not been handed over yet.

    I would really appreciate help on this one as the clock is ticking a bit (in terms of when I need to make something happen to make sure the house gets completed in relatively good time) and also we want to make sure we get the best solution for the house.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Sophea

    Sophea Well-Known Member

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    If it's in your contract then they must supply it.

    How does the below clause fit in? Its difficult to get the context.

    Worst case, you can resolve your dispute through QCAT's domestic building tribunal. Domestic and commercial building disputes - QCAT Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal
     
  3. rps2016

    rps2016 Active Member

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    Sophea,

    Thanks for your response.

    Unfortunately, despite my belief that we were 100% in the right, we've had to settle for a 'negotiation' with the builder, where we went and found an independent quote to get the electrical work done, and they have graciously (sarcasm) agreed to pay half.

    The section of the contract you highlighted is the part that kept getting thrown around (by them); where they stated they were only required to install up to 8 meters worth of single phase cable (which would subsequently be upgraded according to the second part of the contract to triple-phase). They also claim that the fact the single-phase was initially in fact run for the entire length (which is about 35-40meters), was a 'favour' on their part in the first instance.

    We're only days from handing over (and this issue was dragged out by them because it was first known to them in January, but only properly explained to us - after our own followup and digging around - in March) and our personal circumstances mean that we can't afford any further delay and also can't afford thousands in legal fees.

    All in all, the whole experience made me wish I had trained as lawyer instead of an engineer, so that my wife and I wouldn't get pushed around and walked over by every Tom, Dick and Harry who knows that our back is against the wall.
     

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