Undertaking any type of building work involves plenty of forward planning and attention to detail, and this is certainly no exception in Queensland. There are various state laws that need to be adhered to when any construction job gets underway, ranging from meeting health and safety requirements to ensuring you comply with, and are aware of, your contractual obligations. The contractual process can be complicated, especially if variations, special conditions and extensive contract administration play a part.
Building disputes are usually time-consuming and costly. Work that is not completed or is not completed to a satisfactory standard can have a major impact on completion dates, result in serious safety concerns and have significant financial consequences to all parties involved.
“Work that is not completed or is not to a satisfactory standard can have a major impact on completion dates”
Legislative requirements for Queensland Builders and the Queensland Building and Construction Commission
Any builder trading in Queensland needs to comply with the state’s many legislative requirements, including (to name a few):
The Code of Practice for the Building and Construction Industry. This was introduced to improve standards in the industry, in an effort to protect consumers.
The Queensland Building and Construction Commission Act 1991 (QBCC Act) which regulates building licencing, disciplinary proceedings against builder, complaints against builders and Statutory Insurance Scheme;
The Building and Construction Industry Payments Act 2004 (Qld) (BCIPA) which operates to ensure superior contractors pay inferior contractors progress payments, as required by law and any construction contract that regulates the relationship between the parties.
BCIPA is a powerful tool available to inferior contractors, but to take advantage of it, the provisions of BCIPA must be strictly complied with.
BCIPA also imposes strict time limits upon superior contractors, and a failure to respond promptly to a payment claim pursuant to BCIPA can have significant consequences.
Recently, the QBCC Act was amended to allow the QBCC to be more involved in disputes which arise between consumers and builders. The changes were brought about due to the Queensland government’s view that the early dispute resolution without the need for costly and protracted litigation is in the best interests of builders and consumers.
Resolving building disputes
Where it is not possible to resolve disputes at an early stage, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) is where most domestic building disputes are heard and determined. However, the majority of high-value commercial building disputes are litigated in either the District Court of Queensland or the Supreme Court of Queensland. Building disputes can vary in nature but usually relate to variations or the quality and completeness of the work performed.
That said, disputes can also relate to other contractual issues such as failure of a builder to complete the works within the agreed time frame, or whether a building contract has been properly terminated in accordance with the relevant contractual provisions.
If any builder finds themselves in dispute with a consumer, they should take active steps for an early resolution and seek legal advice. Depending on the nature of the dispute, there are many methods available to resolve disputes early, including with the involvement of the QBCC or external mediators.
“The majority of high-value commercial building disputes are litigated in either the District Court of Queensland orthe Supreme Court of Queensland.”