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How do I make changes to my Domestic Building Contract?

You may only make changes to your Domestic Building Contract by way of written and signed variations that has been agreed upon between you and the builder including variations to the plans and specifications. Prime cost items or provisional sum items may change your Contract Price.

All Variations must be made in writing

Variations that have not been made in writing are usually the biggest cause of disputes between owners, builders and owner-builders and tradespersons. It’s always best to have all changes to the Domestic Building Contract made in writing to deter disputes or misunderstandings later with your Builder.

Variations to a Domestic Building Contract are changes made to the Domestic Building Contract that you and the Builder agree upon or changes to which a building surveyor (architect, building consultant etc) may order after the Domestic Building Contact has been signed and where works have commenced.

If any changes are ordered by building surveyor, building expert, etc you only have 5 days to disagree with those changes in writing.

The Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995, states that all variations must be made in writing, usually by way of variation notice, it must include all details of changes to be made to the Domestic Building Contract, the cost of the changes and new Contract Price and completion date prior to the works commencing.

You won’t need a Variation Notice if the builder believes that the variations would not cause any delay, requirement for permits or costs of more than 2% of the original Contract Price.

If you haven’t signed off on a variation, the Builder or tradesperson cannot demand that you pay for the variation (nor does this mean that the builder isn’t entitled to the payment for the variation) however the builder may make an application against you in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and have the Tribunal determine the payment of variations.

When can I terminate or withdraw from my Domestic Building Contract?

During the Cooling Off Period

You have 5 days to withdraw from your Domestic Building Contract after you have signed it provided that you have not received legal advice before you signed it. If you exercise your right to withdraw your Domestic Building Contract during the cooling-off period, you will not be liable to pay the builder or any third party for any loss, costs or damages unless stated so in the Domestic Building Contract. If you had previously withdrawn from a Major Domestic Building Contract with the same Builder on the same terms for the same property, you wont be entitled to withdraw for your Domestic Building Contract.

If you exercise you right to withdraw from the Domestic Building Contract you must notify the builder in writing of your intention to withdraw within 5 business days of signing the Domestic Building Contract by personally delivering the notice to the builder, serving it by registered post or as noted in your Domestic Building Contract.

Contract Price or Completion

The Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995 also allows you to terminate your Domestic Building Contract if the Contract Price rises above 15% or more of the total Contract Price, if completion has not been reached within one and one half of the time that it was to be completed or if the increased time or costs is not reasonable

Defective Works not rectified

There are other instances where you may terminate your Domestic Building Contract, such as when the Builder has been provided ample time to rectify defective works prior to completion and fails to do so, however each case will need to be checked on its merits and its best that you obtain legal advice prior to terminating your Domestic Building Contract to avoid any claims from being made against you by the Builder.