Today have contributed to Australian law by defending my application at NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. The Tribunal ordered exactly as I expected.
The application was lodged 19th March and the hearing has been set up for today 14th April.
It is related to the building defects that were reported originally in December 2011 and the builder made several attempts to fix it without a proper result. There were several factors to that:
- Negligence by the sub-contractors
- No quality assurance by the builder
- Builder was not willing to fix the issue which involved dragging process of numerous inspections, involving Fair Trading, the builder, independent inspector etc.
- The builder tried to be smart and started coming up with ways to recover their costs - though all the work they did was part of statutory warranty.
The conciliation went well and the matter proceeded to the hearing with a mutual agreement by the applicant and the respondent (the builder). As expected, the builder was ordered to identify the cause of the issues within 1 week and then fix within one week after that or on the same day if possible and to relieve the applicant from alleged debt.
Now some key points for those who are involved in buying residential unit or a house:
- Make an independent defects report before you buy the property (even if it's new there may be some defects or faults that the builder may object and be right);
- Within 7 years after the building is finished there is a statutory warranty on major defects. The builder may try to say that there is no defect or that it's not their responsibility. In this case summarize all your defects and lodge a complaint to Fair Trading - do this as soon as possible;
- If the defects are still not rectified Fair Trading will issue a non-compliance report, use this report to lodge an application with the Tribunal;
- All your correspondence with the builder should be in writing! Remember this - all conversations. Even if you have a phone call with them - send them a confirmation email or letter outlining the details of the call;
- Even if you feel threatened by the builder - still stay in your position. If you have all the documents, photos, Fair Trading inspection/non-compliance reports etc. your position is very strong.
The consequences for the builders if they don't comply with the tribunal order are as follows:
"If you do not notify the Home Building Service, your public record will show that you have failed to comply with the order. If you have an outstanding work order you may be unable to renew your licence when it expires. From 1 April 2009 if you have an unpaid money order, your licence can be suspended 28 days after the due date for payment. You can be fined up to $22,000 if you falsely claim you have complied with this order."
Stay tuned for more news on this one.
Other posts from this story.
Also have a look at my post regarding strata living and what to look at before and when you buy a strata unit.