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Under many building contracts, you have a contractual right to have defects addressed.

The contractual rights can be exercised by the property owner, but not usually by a third party.

There are general entitlements under the Building Services (Complaint Resolution and Administration) Act 2011 that allows a person to make a complaint about defective building work. The complaint can be made to the Building Commissioner about a regulated building service not being carried out in a proper and proficient manner, or for being faulty or unsatisfactory.

This section does not limit the complaint to a party to the building contract. The regulations state that the complaint may be made by a person whose interests are being, or have been, adversely affected by the carrying out of the regulated building service. This would protect a subsequent purchaser of a home.

Section 6 of the Act says that a complaint for faulty and defective work can be made up to 6 years after the practical completion. This date usually occurs when a notice of completion of the work is given to the permit authority. This time limit is strictly enforced. If a claim is made one day late, then it will be invalid.

Many people refer to this as a ‘structural warranty’ covering only structural elements of the home. However, the builder’s liability, in strict terms, is wider than this. It covers all faulty and defective work, including the installation of white goods; however the manufacturer’s warranty would be the initial reference point on these items.

Not all problems are due to faulty and defective workmanship during construction. Just as items wear out on a new vehicle, it is the consumer rather than the manufacturer who replaces them, and so it is with new homes. Replacement of items due to wear and tear is not the builder’s responsibility. A builder is only liable when defects emerge due to faulty and/or unsatisfactory workmanship.

This generally means that any person – whether or not they were the original owners or clients – can make a complaint during the 6 year period after building work was completed.

43 responses to “Defects Liability”

  1. Frank Goff says:

    After construction of a 4m x 4m deck, 2.5 m above ground where Stainless Steel Wire has been threaded through the decking posts, water has seeped into the wood causing splits between holes. Matter was taken to Timber suppliers (over 2yrs ago) – who denied any liability as their website had a advisory sheet stating that holes were not to be drilled through this timber type. Took matter to Consumer Protection and they advised we had no redress with the supplier and that the Builder should have been aware of the issue & should not have used/recommended the timber for balustrade post use where holes need to be drilled through the timber. One balustrade post is now showing severe evidence of rot, almost right through its 110mm section and we fear that rot will now become evident in other posts. Completion was signed off in April 2010. Does the Builder have any responsibility to make good? Thanks for any advice

  2. Jeffrey Lewis says:

    Could you guide me to the definition of faulty and defective work please.

    Defective and faulty work include not following a Australian Standard

  3. Mike Le Mon says:

    Hi, house built 2002, brick & iron roof. Plaster on internal wall have hair line cracks. When tapping cracks on wall it is hollow. A piece has fallen out & it looks like plaster has not bonded to internal brick work. Is this faulty workmanship. Does the build have any responsibility to make it good. Thanks for any advice.
    Kind regards, Mike Le Mon

  4. John Hunter says:

    We had a new home built after the 2009 bushfires destroyed our previous home in Marysville. The house was completed in October 2011. After three years we noticed the paintwork on the exterior was deteriorating with paint coming off when hosed using a garden hose and paint peeling of some of the timber finishes. The builder indicated that as it was three years nothing could be done. Recently the paint work is getting worse and was obviously not done properly. It is showing signs of further deterioration. Is there anything we can do about this?

  5. John Righetti says:

    Hi, my daughters builder contacted her to state the slab is not level. An engineering report was conducted showing some defects up 10mm out. Affected areas are kitchen, bedroom hall way. The builder stated they would fix it.

    Anyway, some weeks have passed and the house is at lock up stage with the floor tiles down, kitchen installed and the problems wasn’t rectified with the uneven floor.
    The site supervisor has asked to meet Thursday 28th April and what too seek what I should do. I feel the builder has a responsibility to rectify this problem in the early stage of construction but didn’t?

    What can I do?

    Appreciate any advice/direction from you.


  6. kylie says:

    GOOD TO KNOW. front and rear sliding doors are not square and look terrible. This will need to be fixed before completion.

  7. Mark Boyd says:

    Is the builder responsible to repair broken septic pipe that has allow tree roots to grow into it. The soil has not been disturbed since the building was completed.The house was completed 3 years ago and no garden has been planted on the property.The house is in Perth Western Australia
    Mark Boyd

  8. Jodie longmire says:

    Hi I am having some issues with the kitchen installed in my new house. The company that installed he kitchen has since been sold. Is the new owner responsible to fix the issues under a structural warranty?

  9. Anne thompson says:

    My house was built in 2010 and it has never been watertight. Every winter when it rains the Windows leak causing internal damage. The window installer comes back every year to repair the damage but then every winter the problem comes back.
    This year off course it has happened again but the window installer has failed to address the problem. What can I do?? I have mould in one bedroom and the water leaks into the wall cavities causing puddles elsewhere

  10. Rodney Cunningham says:

    We have floor tiles cracking in a line in our house, at least 15 Tiles now. The house was handed over in Feb 2014. I have been in touch with the builder and they won’t do anything, warranty on floor tiles has expired. I believe there is a problem with the concrete pad for the tiles to crack in line with each other.

  11. Tomasz Dworakowski says:

    Hi I’m a second owner of the Property. There is nodocumentation in Council hands who build the property only Architect. How do I go about finding the builder

    Second question. When does the Warranty Period Start to kick in, given I only have council drawigs. How can it be found as to when Building was Completed.


  12. Andrew says:

    Hi, I am just wondering if plumbing issues fall under the 7 year structural warranty for new buildings? The apartment block I am living in has had several plumbing issues since it was built 4 years ago. I had a problem with in my own apartment 1 year ago and now have another leak potentially coming from a shower pipe in the ceiling. Is the builder obliged to come back and fix this under the warranty??
    Thanks in advance,

  13. cherry nock says:

    our house build by a licensed builder and completed in 2014 June.
    After the take over we asked builder many many time from since took over for water came into the house (west side) whenever it rain.
    It is a Panels with metal frame energy efficient house. The panels on the west side got so bad for water damaged; black and dame. Window also damaged.
    Builder came to so call repaired the problem in summer so nothing could be seem however every winter water still come through and the damaged is so obvious that anyone can see. Again called the builder and said they are going to come later. And the builder told me to claim the damaged through my home and content insurance. It is not their fault. We could see there are crakes in many places especially where water damaged internally.
    My question is: how long i have to wait? Builder responded me after many email but none the less “responded”. But every raining season my house is wet and i am very worry the foundation going to compromise as it is a panels house. by the way my timber floor was all ruin and the builder told me not to remove it so they can see the damage but how long should i wait and will it be bad to my house with the web timber floor board. The reason i did not remove the floor board is because I don’t want the building company remove their liability. Can someone help me for this as we are really struggling to deal with this matter. thanks

  14. Tamira Don says:

    Hello. Our build was completed in May 2015. We have noticed that the silicon joint between shower wall and floor seems to be starting to pull away from the tiles leaving a gap that could possibly lead to a water proofing issue. Is this covered under the structural warranty or is this wear and tear? The builder has said that the time frame for maintenance has lapsed so they won’t fix it.

  15. Richard Dekkers says:

    Hi, my home is 4-5 years old. It is a two story house and the second bathroom has major cracks in the grout and tiles from movement/settling. This is now causing water damage into the joining room. Is this covered by some sort of warranty or is it our problem now?

  16. Gail Wright says:

    Good AFternoon,
    I am hoping you can either gie me some information or refer me to someone who may.

    In 2013, we built what is termed a transportable home, which was then moved into a lifestyle village. Included in the build, was a patio and a carport – both of which were included in the initial build and not added on later.

    We are now finding the colourbond carport is rusting in a few places. We have been informed it looks like the colourbonding process was a faulty one for this to happen.

    We have also noted that where the upright colourbond has been cut to enable the horizontal beams to slot in, there has been no sealer used and of course, where the metal was cut is now also showing signs of rust.

    We put in a formal complaint to the builders of the home and they have informed us this is not covered by the 6 years structural warranty.

    We are very surprised by this and would like to know just where we stand according to the law.

    Thank you for your time.

  17. mark says:

    I have been in my new house 16months now from a new build,i have notiiced that in my front garden it is sinking down a bit,looks like one of the soakwells have dropped,been intouch with the compamy who built my house ,and they said contact the plumbers,the soakwells were in with the price of the house,the plumber has told me you only get a 12 month guarantee, is that right.

  18. Dylan Bruce says:

    I built with country builders in the south west of WA.
    The liability period od 6 months passed by about 2 weeks ago.
    I have some specific issues that were not addressed, they are as follows:
    1) sink waste in a cupboard. Not required or in use and not asked for or on the plans. It smells and takes up room.
    2) roof line in gutter is too high and too short, allowing water/rain to enter the ceiling space – this has caused the ceilings in entry to become moody.
    3) most of the fly screens supplied and fitted by country builders are too small and keep falling out with mild breezes.

    Can I ask county builders to rectify these issues? As I paid for.

  19. Linda says:

    Hello, my house is nearly finished , the land has a slope towards the house. I paid $4.000 to the builder for a land surveyor to work out best position for the house. I Went ahead with where they suggested house was put. What’s happened now.
    Is there has been heavy rain and the rain went directly into the house. The house is ready for handover. Is there an Thing that the builder can do for me. I do I have
    To spend more money getting the water diverted away from house.

  20. Juba says:

    I have an issue with Plumbing blockage since i move in brand new units. Builder saying as i did not address him in 30days, so it does not cover his building warrenty. My question what does Building warrenty covers & where i may get more info about this service. So far i remember as the time of building contraft builder said he will give me 6/7 years warrenty

  21. isabel falkner says:

    we had a new extension added to our house in 2004 – I have noticed that there are external cracks in the stone work half way along this extension and also on inside plaster work. Are we covered by the builder?

  22. Ian Horton says:

    Hi team

    Could you please advise if, after a company has actually carried out a repair under the six year warranty ruling, does this repair then automatically ‘obtain’ a six year warranty? It’s just that the repair that was carried by the builder has now itself grossly failed after 3 years.