What warranties are provided by the Builder under the Domestic Building Act?
In a nutshell, defects in workmanship or materials as supplied by the builder are covered by warranty. The Builder needs to ensure that the material he obtains for the construction of your home performs and is installed in a proper workmanlike manner. The Builder must ensure that all works performed and materials supplied by subcontractors are done so in accordance with the standards and tolerances applied to most commonly used practices. Check out the Guide that the Building Commission has published on some common issues “Guide Standards and Tolerances” (the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal follow the Guide for assistance on defects).
You should bear in mind that not all observed imperfections are defects and that any works outside the scope of the Builders engagement is not covered by warranty (unless these are variations). Fair wear and tear and failure to maintain is also not covered by warranty.
Are there ways to void warranty?
If at any time you have works performed after the completion of building, you will not be covered for any defects on works performed by the third-party ( and it could void the builder’s warranty for the particular area as to where the works were performed unless the builder knows about it and consents to it)
Planting a tree too close to your home may also void the warranty. Should the cause of any structural defect/damage to your home be a result of any landscaping or activity as instigated by you, it could void your warranty.
Warranties and Subsequent Ownership
Beware when purchasing a home. It is assumed that where defects are observed or where the new owner has been placed on notice of those defects, the owner has purchased the land for the price that has taken those defects into account. Therefore waiving your right to claim for defects later. Therefore it is always advised to have a full and complete inspection of your home prior to purchasing.
What if the Builder refuses to rectify the defects?
If you have advised your builder of the defects and he refuses to rectify those defects, or if the builder has attempted to rectify those defects but has failed to do so in a proper workmanlike manner (or has failed to pay you for the cost of rectifying those defects), then usually your only other option is to issue an application at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. You have 10 years to sue the builder commencing 10 years from the date that the occupancy permit was issued (or from the date of the final inspection), your warranty then expires.