As Useless as Tits on a Build

It’s nice to think that when things go wrong in building our homes, we can simply look our builder in the eye, throw the contract in their face, and with a slight smirk over a low voice state; ‘See you in court asshole’.

Great for Hollywood. Not so great for reality.

Sometimes though, similar to the likelihood of discovering a unicorn, a house is built without any imperfections and no disputes. But most often than not, building our dream home or even an investment property will get hairy. And in those moments, it’s important to know where you can turn to find a razor.

And not those, one bladed, blunt bastards that leave sporadic patches over for you to mop up later.

Shaving metaphor aside, when handling disputes there’s one concrete idea you need to get through your head. No one cares but you. Oh, and time is of the essence. So make that two concrete ideas.

Assuming your house is built, or is in the process of being built, and the defect has been identified straight away or on a site inspection with the supervisor, there is now a maze that you will need to navigate. And like David Bowie said in those beautiful, skin-tight tights. The clock is ticking

Identification (After getting bitten by a fairy, you’ve finally managed to enter the labyrinth)

First things first. You need to make sure 100% what the defect is. I was talking to a painter the other day who did a job where the owner took her builder to the Building Disputes Tribunal over a dodgy paint finish. Knowing his workmanship was perfect and not willing to pay the $10,000+ to remedy the problem, the painter built his case and with scientific reports presented to the tribunal that it was not the paint finish that was the problem. But the plastering… Since her defect liability period was up, she couldn’t go back and fight again. She’s had to live with the problem, all because she got hung up on the wrong thing. In my previous post Do you want fries with that? I mean tiles with that?’ I explain that constructing a house is like organising a thousand tiny simple things. What you’re seeing may be the direct result of poor workmanship from something else. In the end you’ll need a third party (whose ass isn’t owned by the builder) to take a look and give you their response in a written report/email that is date stamped.

Notification (You’ve met a worm whose invited you in for tea, but you can’t because you need to find your baby brother, who is currently being thrown around by the Goblin King and a bunch of his minions)

If there’s one thing from this blog post you need to remember, it’s this email; BCinfo@commerce.wa.gov.au

So what Construction Chick, it’s just the info email for the Building Commission, it can’t be that powerful. Seriously… Who are you? Get out of this blog post and find some other person to annoy with your idiotic statements.

If Hollywood has taught us anything, other than if there’s a strange noise down stairs, don’t go investigate it with a hand-held camera; it’s that people who act like a victim will become a victim. By notifying you’re builder and cc-ing this email into the notification it will be like a red flag to a bull, like blood in the water to sharks, like… (ok.. I ran out of animal analogies – but you get the point right?)

You are telling your builder that you know your shit, you know how to handle this situation and where to go, AND you’ve got everything in writing. I’ll write the last point in caps, just in case you missed it, I’ll also centre page it for your immediate attention.

~ YOU’VE GOT EVERYTHING –> IN <– –> WRITING <– ~

We are dealing with people *cough* liars *cough* that will, in front of an adjudicating tribunal, turn around and say, ‘that never happened, I received no notification of this defect in writing’.

Time Limit (After falling down a tunnel and being groped by those handsy wall hands, the Goblin King just shaved some time off you for giving him a taste of his own medicine)

Although I could have written this into the ‘Notification’ section, this is just as important and deserves its own section. In your notification email, be sure to give your builder a time limit. Why? Because by law you only have a defects liability of 120 days, they might of sneaked into your contract a shorter time period that that, so review your contract to find out.

My recommendation is a fortnight – A fortnight is standard within the industry and to the Building Commission who are the regulators of the industry. Please note, the time limit isn’t for a response. Screw a response, you want the darn thing fixed don’t you? The time limit is for remedy. Be sure to state that in the email (in writing).

The likely outcome is the following;

  1. There is no defect
  2. The defect will take 30 days to fix, our building supervisor will contact you in 14 days.
  3. No response

aw hell no

Remember, you’re the customer, and the customer is always right (even when they’re wrong). So;

  1. There is a defect in workmanship as identified by (third party report in writing), if (Insert Builders Business Name) have not remedied the problem within the time frame I stated in my previous email I will be escalating this issue to the Building Commission.
  2. That is unacceptable, this defect will be fixed within 14 days, if it is not fixed by then I will be contacting a new contractor to remedy the defect with all costs covered by (Insert Builders Business Name).
  3. As I have heard no response from (Insert Builders Business Name) I have escalated this issue to the Building Commission for (Insert Builders Business Name) poor workmanship.

Lodgement of Notice of Complaint (The Labyrinth doesn’t seem so bad now, you’ve got your gang with you Hoggle, Ludo and Sir Didymus… but you still don’t have your baby brother –tick, tick, tick)

Don’t waste your time with the Housing Industry Association, Master Builders, and even your Local Government – the end result will be something along the lines of tits and bulls. Go straight to the Building Commission and lodge your notice of complaint to get the ball rolling. Take a read of the following guide; https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/building-commission/building-service-and-home-building-work-contract-complaints The Building Commission is there to regulate the industry as well as keep it fair for consumers. But they’re only going to help you if you’re within the time frames set down by law.

The notice of complaint gives the Builder time to respond and is the Building Commissions way of putting the ‘Get Along Shirt’ on both of you to see if you can sought out matters yourself before you need to go to the tribunal. During this period, everything your builder emails you record. Everything your builder says to you over the phone, put in an email and send back to the builder – ‘I received a call today from blah-blah this is what we discussed and the outcome of our discussion.’ Cover your back… who else will?

You can find the form by clicking here.

Lodgement of Complaint (You’ve been drugged by a peach and masqueraded around, now shits about to get real, and you’re on your way to the castle to find your baby brother and destroy the Goblin King once and for all)

There are fees involved, but they are just over $100, nothing to worry about, especially if your claim is for $7,500+.  The complaint is easy enough to lodge, just follow the check list provided on the form. You can find the form by clicking here.

The building commission can either reject or approve your complaint. Be prepared for either, but know this, the Building Commission knows that the residential construction industry is biased to the Builders side. They know who ultimately has the power. Because of this they are more lenient to consumer.

The Building Commission can only do the following things;

  1. Conciliation
  2. Interim Order
  3. Building Remedy Order
  4. Home Building Work Contract (HBWC) remedy order
  5. Referral to the SAT (State Administrative Tribunal)

All these points will be covered in future blog posts, to find out more on your own, click here.

Taking it Further (You’ve managed to sneak your way into the castle with the help of your friends, but where did all these stairs come from? How come gravity doesn’t work? And why are the Goblin King’s tights so tight?)

If the Building Commissions verdict doesn’t swing your way after following the process, thanks to the democratic country we live in, you can take it further. Known as the State Administrative Tribunal or SAT for short, this is the final place you can take your complaint. You can choose whether you will be represented or not. For more information on SAT, click here.

SAT isn’t my favourite place, because the tribunal will be made up of – yep you guess it – builders and ex-builders. But if you’ve done the first step, identification, and have the evidence to back you up. Like any court, the truth will set you free.

The process is long, nerve wracking, and exhausting. I’m tried just writing about it. But so is any Labyrinth you enter. At the end of the day, if the end result is worth it, you can conquer any maze you find yourself stuck in.

jareth_loveme

Just remember; they have no power over you (Unless court ordered by the State Administrative Tribunal – sorry not everything is a fairy tale)

Until next time!

Xox Construction Chick

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3 thoughts on “As Useless as Tits on a Build

  1. Love it, love it, love it!! This totally cracked me up, your references to Labyrinth are spot on and had me in fits of giggles! I’m not even building my own home (and have no intention of doing so) but love your writing style! Looking forward to reading more (have shared via FB) x

    Like

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