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.