As Perth building inspectors, we are consistently seeing cases where a building dispute becomes a big problem, ending up in a formal dispute process in the courts. 

Building disputes can be caused for a variety of reasons. Many of these include misunderstandings, expectation gaps, or lack of documentation that clearly defines the intended building. Add emotions, personalities, and communication problems, and resolution can sometimes seem impossible. 

The Home Building Contracts Act 1993 provides support for property owners in Western Australia. This Act establishes some requirements that contractors and builders must adhere to when building homes. These are the minimum requirements for a successful build. 

A building dispute inspection allows for a factual and independent discussion between the property owner and the builder or contractor. A BCI WA, Perth building inspector will be able to attend to your building construction and help you reconcile what was built with the approved plans, the Australian Building Code, and Australian Standards. This well-established approach will hopefully allow us to discuss the important remaining construction issues and give an independent assessment of any construction defects. 

As Perth building inspectors, BCI WA offers both builders and homeowners its building dispute inspection service in Perth, Western Australia. 


What does the Building Dispute Inspection Report Provide?


There are three types of building dispute inspection reports. The best one is the one that suits the circumstances. These options are: 

  1. A building defect report is a detailed analysis of the construction. 
  2. A report that examines specific construction issues is a more detailed analysis of individual construction items.
    Clearly define the construction defect.
    If possible, identify the reason for the defect.
    Identify the problem and what can be done to fix it.
  3. An independent expert report that again addresses specific construction issues, but also includes more detailed supporting details and references to the Building Code of Australia and Australian Standards. This report can be used as an independent expert report at hearings of the WA Building Commission, State Administrative Tribunal, or Magistrate Court. 

What Are the Advantages of a Building Dispute Inspection?


BCI WA building inspections are completed in accordance with Australian Standard 4349 and consist of a visual inspection of the building’s construction. The reports are produced by an independent third party. BCI WA registered builder with over 30 years of experience. These reports are intended to give clarity, facts, and independence to disputes in building construction to allow both parties to reach a resolution. 


What are the contents of a Building Dispute Inspection Report?


Our clients determine the scope of our inspection. Our clients can choose to inspect the entire structure or a specific part. 


Building Disputes in Western Australia


Since 2011, consumers and service providers have found it easier to adjudicate complaints about home building contracts and regulated building services. In certain cases, the Building Commission and the State Administrative Tribunal have jurisdiction to hear complaints under the Home Building Contracts Act (“HBCA”) and the Building Complaint Resolution and Administration Act 2011 (“BCRA”). Builders can also use the Construction Contracts Act 2004, to resolve payment disputes. 


Home Building Contract Disputes


The HBCA classifies a home building contract as to any contract for work ranging from $7,500 to $500,000. The HBCA regulates home-building contracts by requiring notices and home indemnity insurance, as well as dictating terms that must be included in the contract. Some terms cannot be included in a home-building contract. 

Because the HBCA is specific to contract matters, any complaints arising under it are primarily contractual.  

Many builders mistakenly believe that the HBCA applies only to those who are undertaking significant work on a house, such as construction or renovation. When the HBCA applies to all owners-builders, as well as any associated building work, such as landscaping or cabinetry. 

The HBCA includes civil penalties for certain violations of the Act by builders. These include requiring payment of a deposit exceeding 6.5% of the contract price and doing home building work that is not covered by insurance. The Building Commission could then start a case against the builder and impose severe penalties. Before any home-building work is performed, it is important that all contractors, even those who directly contract with the owner, review the HBCA provisions and ensure that their contracts follow the HBCA. 

The Building Commission can hear complaints that are filed within three years of the date the dispute was raised. The Act contains remedies for both an owner and a builder regarding the non-fulfilment of conditions imposed under the HBCA. These include the termination of the contract by the not-in-breach party. 

There are a variety of remedies that the Commissioner can issue under the BCRA regarding home building contracts. These include orders restraining or requiring specific action from the builder, orders that a party pay an obligation under the contract or declaring that the amount is not payable. An order requiring a party or party to pay compensation for a breach of the contract or the HBCA. For specific violations of the HBCA, orders can be made declaring a provision invalid or void. 


Disputes Over Workmanship


Any person who is adversely affected by the performance of a regulated building service can file a complaint with the Building Commission if the work was not done in a proper, proficient manner, or was defective or unsatisfactory. The BCRA is also known as “workmanship complaints.” 

The definition of “adversely affected” by a regulated service to build a home extends beyond the person who contracted with the builder. It can also include any subsequent owners of the property or even a neighbour. If the work was completed without a permit, the complaint must be filed within six years. In cases where work was done under a permit notice or notice of completion. 

A registered builder or an approved owner-builder can perform a building service. Homebuilding work is covered under the HBCA. ”Building services” includes demolition work (within the limits of the Building Act 2011), plumbing work, and other prescribed work. 

A party that is aggrieved must give notice to the other side for 14 days before he or she can file a complaint. This is to encourage parties to come to an informal settlement of the dispute without resorting to the formal complaint process. 

The Commissioner can dismiss the complaint once it is filed. He also has the right to request additional details about the claim to decide whether to accept it. After the claim has been accepted, the Commissioner must order a Perth home building inspection to investigate. The Perth strata inspection report is then produced. The Perth home building inspection report could contain recommendations on how to handle the complaint. The Commissioner can initiate a conciliation process. Both parties must attend the meeting without their legal representatives. 

If the Commissioner or SAT is satisfied that the work was not done in a professional and competent manner, or was faulty or unsatisfactory, they may issue building remedy orders. The aggrieved party may seek compensation or a value for the work ordered. This sum cannot be more than $100,000. 

If the Commissioner or SAT is unable to issue a building remedy order, the Commissioner or SAT may award compensation. This could be if a builder is proving incapable of performing the required building work or has refused to perform the work. 


Claims Outside the BCRA


Consumers who fail to identify latent defects within the six-year limitation period set out in the BCRA may need to seek remedies under the contract or file a negligence case against the builder. These claims, depending on their value, would need to be filed in a Western Australian court. 

A consumer who is suing a builder for professional negligence will usually have a six-year limitation period. This applies to damages that have been discovered by the consumer or were capable of being discovered with reasonable diligence. 


What’s Next?


If you need a Perth home building inspection report or advice on your building complaint, contact BCI WA today. Our Perth strata inspectors are experts in the industry and can advise you on what to do next.