Cracking cornices and plaster cracks are a common feature that often occur naturally in a new home. Ground movement and natural settling can occur with minor cracks appearing in walls or cornices, often several years after the house has been completed.
Many homebuyers incorrectly believe that this type of cracking is the builders’ responsibility to rectify. Under the Builders’ Registration Act (1939) a builder is responsible for any faulty and defective work for a period of six years after practical completion. However the builder’s liability will not extend to purely maintenance items which are the owners responsibility. Just like a new car, you would not expect the manufacturer after say 3 or 4 years to fix a cracking seal, you cannot expect a builder to be responsible for minor cornice or plaster cracking years after the home has been completed and lived in.
Whether the builder is responsible or not for cracking can depend to some extent on the size of the cracking or extent of the problem. The key is whether it can be determined that the defect is due to faulty and defective building work. This will often require an inspection by an independent expert or an inspector from the Builders’ Registration Board. Without looking at the job it is impossible to give a precise answer as to who has the liability for these types of minor defects.
If you have a cracking problem, the best option is to contact your builder to arrange an inspection to determine the extent of the problem and its likely cause. If you are unhappy with the builders’ response, you should contact the Builders’ Registration Board (Tel 9476 1200) to arrange a Board inspector to examine the building work to determine where the problem is and who has the responsibility to repair the defect.