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10 Questions to ask a Prospective Builder

Before you engage a builder to build or renovate your home, make sure you do your homework and ask these 10 important questions:

1. Are you a registered builder?

Only builders that are registered with the Victorian Builders Association (VBA) can carry out domestic building works and enter into domestic building contracts. To confirm that your builder is registered, you may request to see you builder’s qualifications. Alternatively, you may conduct a practitioner search on the VBA website.

2. Will I be insured?   

If the cost of your domestic building works is $12,000 or more, your builder will need to obtain home warranty insurance and provide you with a copy of the policy.

This will protect you in the event that your builder dies, becomes insolvent or disappears before the works have been completed.

3. Have you been involved in any domestic building disputes?

To get an idea of your builder’s reliability and professionalism, find out whether they have been involved any disputes.

To do this, you may ask your builder directly. Alternatively, you may check with the Victorian Builders Commission. However, to be sure, you may want to do both.

4. Have you ever declared bankruptcy? 

If your builder confirms that he or she has declared in the past, remember:

  •  Old habits die hard; and
  •  Proceed with caution!

The last thing that you want is your builder declaring bankruptcy half-way through completing your works.

5. Do you specialise in my type of building work?  

This is very important because building and/or renovating requires you to take a leap of faith. You want to be certain that your builder has the necessary knowledge, skill and experience to perform the works.

6. Who will be performing the works?

Having your builder on-site is vital if you want your works to run smoothly and according to time.
When on on-site, your builder should be supervising and coordinating the work – particularly if any work is being sub-contracted.

7. Who you can contact?

Depending on which builder you choose, you may be dealing with the same person throughout the entire project. Conversely, you may have to deal with several different people – from receptionists, estimators, project managers, superintendents and/or sub-contractors.

Whatever the case may be, ensure that you know how your builder works and who you can contact if you have any queries or concerns.  Not only will this allow you to compare and contrast with other builders and determine who is right for you, but it will also ensure that everyone is clear about what works need to be performed.

8. Can I view your past work?

Make sure you ask to view some of your builder’s past work. This will give you an opportunity to inspect the quality of his or her workmanship and to speak to former clients about their experience with the builder.

You should be very cautious of builders who refuse your request to view their past work. Remember, a good builder will not have anything to hide and won’t have an issue with this.

9. What other projects are you working on?

Needless to say, if a builder is committed to an overwhelming number of projects at once, it is very unlikely that he or she will be in a position to give your project the necessary attention and dedication.

10. Can you achieve what I want?

By asking your builder this question, not only will immediately know if the work you want performed is realistic and feasible, but also, if your builder is in a position to deliver.




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How do I resolve my Domestic Building Dispute?

In Victoria, the usual forum for dealing with domestic building disputes is the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (“VCAT”). A Domestic Building Dispute is a dispute between an Owner and a Builder ( or architect, builders sub-contractors etc) and an Owner—Builder and Subcontractors, Architect, Consultants, etc.

Building Advice and Conciliation Victoria (BACV) complements the dispute process of VCAT. You don’t need to utilise the BACV, you may choose to lodge your dispute with VCAT immediately. Consumer Affairs of Victoria offers advice and conciliation to some building disputes prior to having an application being lodged at VCAT by either party. If you reach an agreement with the builder during conciliation at the CAV, it will relinquish the need to proceed with your dispute via VCAT. If you opt to seek the advice of the BACV, your dispute will be scheduled for conciliation. The Conciliator will then notify the Builder of the dispute and attempt to settle the dispute between you and the building during the conciliation.

If you end up resolving your dispute with the Builder then all parties will be bound by the terms on which you chose to settle the dispute. If you don’t resolve the dispute during the conciliation with the Builder and an experts report is required (usually the case) then a representative of the Building Commission would arrange for a report to be prepared outlining an expert opinion as required by the parties. The builder would then be given directions from the Building Commission to comply with the recommendations made in the experts report, failing which would result in the dispute being unresolved and therefore an application at VCAT being lodged against the Builder ( the Builder could also receive a penalty for failure to comply with the directions of the Building Commission).

You may choose to use the report obtained by the Building Commission or obtain your own experts report if you don’t agree with the recommendations in your first report however bear in mind that the first report must also be provided to VCAT as evidence.

Private use of Alternative Dispute Resolution is now void under the Domestic Building Contracts Act, unless agreed to by all the parties.

Before you embark on resolving your dispute with your builder, you should seek advice from a lawyer who deals with Building Dispute to ensure that you are protected. Call Boutique Lawyers on 1300 556 140.

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