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.