Building or renovating a home is a big deal. The mistakes that people make when building or renovating can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Don’t have building or renovating turn into your worst nightmare. Make sure it’s done right.
Here are some common mistakes to avoid.
Not having a clear, written building contract
If you’re building or renovating a home in Queensland and the value of the building work is more than $3,300 (including labour, materials and GST) then by law you must have a written building contract. But even for small projects, there should always be a written agreement.
A written contract ensures everyone is on the same page about who’s doing what and when, how much it will cost and what happens if something goes wrong.
Not understanding the building contract
Carefully read through the contract documents and seek legal advice before signing it. Don’t sign a building contract until you have read it and understand it. Know your rights and obligations under the building contract.
There’s no shame in asking questions or getting legal advice if you don’t understand something.
If things go wrong, terminating a building contract is a significant step that must be done properly. Don’t take steps to terminate a building contract without getting advice from an experienced lawyer first.
Variations not in writing
If you’re a builder, tell us if this story sounds familiar.
Lawyer: Thanks for coming in today. How can we help you?
Builder: I built this house for these people. They asked for all these extras during the job and we’ve done them. But now they’re not paying. We’re owed over $40,000. How do we get paid?
Sometimes things change after a written contract is signed. Variations increase or decrease the contract scope (for example adding extra windows) and extend the time for completing the project.
The process set out in the written contract for variations should be followed and variations must always be agreed in writing before the work is done.
Not planning for delays and other challenges
Unexpected challenges often come up when building or renovating a home.
It’s smart to prepare for delays like wet weather, temporary unavailability of materials or cost increases for variations.
Be realistic when estimating the cost of the project and setting a construction budget. Factor in some extra funds for unexpected costs.
It can take years to financially recover from a building dispute. Legal proceedings are expensive, time-consuming and emotionally taxing.
Most of these mistakes come from poor planning or trying to rush things.
Make sure there’s a written building contract and you understand your rights and obligations under the agreement. Do everything by the book. Document everything and keep all emails relating to the project.
For further information about the laws that govern building contracts in Queensland, visit the Queensland Building and Construction Commission website at www.qbcc.qld.gov.au.
Need some help understanding the legal jargon in your building contract? Call us on (07) 3221 2527. We’d be happy to talk you through it.