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Building and renovation work can be an involved process and a dispute may arise about the quality of work or materials or about the contract itself.
To avoid later disputes, there are some things to bear in mind from the outset of the building process. Initially, all promises, undertakings and concessions made in pre-contract discussions should be included in the written building contract. And once construction starts, it is desirable (and in some cases, a legal requirement) that variations to the building work be documented, priced and signed by the parties before work on variations starts. This is in the interests of both builder and client.
If disputes do arise, they should not be allowed to fester. The points below aim to help deal with issues professionally. It is important for the parties to keep lines of communication open at all times and to strive for common sense and courtesy.
If the client has a concern, the matter should be raised with the building supervisor. This can be done informally by telephone or in conversation, but then should be documented. If, after a short period, the matter remains unresolved the client should write to the builder outlining the concern and requesting attention. If the builder doesn’t respond, or the parties can’t agree how to resolve the situation, the building contract usually sets out formal means of dispute resolution such as arbitration or mediation.
The Building Commission (Tel: 1300 489 099) also might be able to assist if, for example, the disputes involve workmanship complaints. The Commissioner can arrange for an authorised Commission officer to investigate. If work has not been done in a proper or proficient manner or is faulty or unsatisfactory, the Commissioner can issue the builder with an order to remedy. The Commissioner also can look at contractual complaints arising out of home building work contracts valued between $7500 and $500,000. (This does not include cost plus contracts). Contractual complaints must be lodged within three years of the breach of contract or breach of the Home Building Contracts Act.
If payment disputes arise between clients and builders or between builders and contractors or suppliers, adjudication under the Construction Contracts Act might be an option.
In conclusion, bear in mind that most building issues never reach an advanced stage of conflict resolution. Problems are sorted out every day by parties taking a common sense approach to outstanding matters.

2 responses to “Dispute Resolution”

  1. Victor says:

    Hi I know that normally all payment disputes are to follow the process on the Construction Contracts Act (2004) WA, but what about if the payment disputes is because the client refuses to pay the building companny as client think the building work is not up to standard.

    What is the proper dispute process should be follow for the builder to obtain this money?

    • mbawa says:

      Hi Victor,

      The rapid adjudication process under the Construction Contracts Act can be used to resolve payment disputes of this nature. The builder would lodge an application for adjudication claiming the outstanding money and, presumably, the client would lodge a response stating that the money is not due because of poor work and the likely cost of making good that work. It is up to the adjudicator to make a determination on who is right, or perhaps that there is some substance to each point of view, and that a lesser amount of money should be paid at this particular time. More information on rapid adjudication is available at the Building Commission’s website,

      Kind regards,
      Master Builders Association of Western Australia