Help with defective work | Queensland Building and Construction Commission

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We have strict eligibility criteria that must be met for us to be able to assist you with defective work disputes. This differs depending on whether your contract is still active or your contract has ended.

If your situation does not meet the eligibility criteria for our help, but you want to lodge a building dispute application with QCAT, you still need to lodge a complaint with us. The QCAT requires you to apply to resolve your dispute through us before they will accept an application. At the end of our process, we will issue you a letter so you can apply to QCAT if you'd like their help.

Do not delay lodging your complaint!

There are time limits to when we can assist you or direct contractors to rectify defective building work.

There are also strict timeframes to be eligible for a claim under the Queensland Home Warranty Scheme (if your complaint involves residential construction work and is not able to be satisfactorily resolved through QBCC's dispute resolution process). You need to have lodged your defective work complaint to us within:

  • 3 months of noticing structural defects
  • 7 months of completion of work for non-structural defects.

How we may help

When you lodge a defective work complaint with the QBCC we will review the complaint and assess whether you meet the eligibility to qualify for our dispute resolution service.

How we may help depends on the state of your contract and your eligibility to receive help.

  1. If the contract is still active, our role is to try to facilitate an agreement between both parties involved.

    If parties cannot reach an agreement, we may:

    • only where there is alleged defective work, inspect the disputed work to determine if it is defective
    • issue the contractor with a direction to rectify the defective work.


    In some cases facilitation between parties leads to a resolution of the issue. The QBCC is not party to any agreement reached between the parties, and we do not formally document it.

    Our dispute resolution service is most successful where both parties are willing to participate and work towards an agreement. We can help you avoid a lengthy and potentially costly dispute if you are willing to work with our experienced staff to look for solutions you can both accept.

    If an agreement cannot be reached, both parties will receive a letter from us allowing them to apply to QCAT for their help.

    Our dispute resolution service should not be used in place of seeking your own independent building inspection, building advice or legal advice.

  2. We have no power to:

    • require someone to pay or refund monies
    • make decisions or give orders about your contract
    • force either party to comply with any agreement
    • direct how work should be fixed
    • supervise repairs
    • fix defective work ourselves.
  1. If the contract has ended we may:

    • contact you and your contractor to try to facilitate an agreement
    • inspect the disputed work to determine if it is defective
    • if required—issue the contractor with a direction to rectify the defective work
    • if unresolved—assess if the complaint is eligible for a claim under the Queensland Home Warranty Scheme.
  2. We have no power to:

    • require someone to pay or refund monies
    • make decisions or give orders about your contract
    • force either party to comply with any agreement
    • direct how work should be fixed
    • supervise repairs
    • fix defective work ourselves.

Home owners—help us to help you

We can only help if you are committed to the process. We require you to continue to work with your contractor to reach a resolution for the disputed work.

Our dispute process requires you to give reasonable access to the contractor if they ask to inspect and/or fix your complaint items.

We consider reasonable access to be

  • a time agreed to by you and the contractor
  • during normal working hours
  • for full consecutive days, if required
  • allowed after a minimum of 48 hours' notice has been given by the contractor. 

Eligibility for our help

Our powers to help with defective building work complaints are limited by strict eligibility criteria.

  1. We may be able to help you with your disagreement about defective work whilst your contract is still active if you are a:

    • property owner—you are the owner of the property where building work or renovations are being undertaken
    • body corporate—you represent the body corporate of a residential complex where building work or renovations are being undertaken (for common property only)
    • authorised agent—if you have authorised someone to act as your agent, they are eligible to lodge on your behalf
    • principal contractor—who has either
      • a contract underway with a home owner for domestic building work
      • a subcontract underway with a subcontractor for domestic building work. 
  2. Your contract needs to be for domestic building work. This includes things like:

    • building a house or duplex
    • renovating, altering, extending or repairing a home, which can include a residential apartment or unit
    • landscaping, paving, driveways, fencing, garages, carports, swimming pools and other associated works
    • supplying lighting, heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, water supply, sewerage and other services and facilities.

     

  3. The value of the contract, including labour, materials and GST, needs to be:

    • more than $3,300 for most building work
    • more than $1,100 for hydraulic design work
    • of any value for
      • plumbing
      • drainage
      • gas fitting
      • chemical termite management system installation
      • building design
      • site classification
      • fire protection
      • completed building inspections.
  4. If you are a property owner

    Make sure you speak to your principal contractor and clearly identify your concerns with them before you apply to use our service.

    Explain the items you believe are defective, unfinished or contractual. Give them reasonable access to the site to review and address your concerns.

    You must put these concerns in writing as an email or letter and send to your contractor. The notice should give 14 days for the contractor to respond (not required if they are bankrupt, liquidated, deregistered or deceased).

    If you are a principal contractor

    Make sure you raise any concerns directly with the home owner or your subcontractor.

    If the disagreement is with a home owner, try to resolve the problem by listening to their concerns and attempt to reach an amicable solution. You must put your concerns in writing as an email or letter and send to the subcontractor or home owner.

  5. You must have followed your contract terms for how you should deal with disputes.

    Make sure you have followed these steps closely to avoid breaching your contract.

  1. We may be able to help you with your disagreement about defective work after your contract is complete if you are a:

    • property owner—you are the owner of the property where building work or renovations have been undertaken (including if done before you purchased the property)
    • body corporate—you represent the body corporate of a residential complex where building work or renovations have been undertaken (for common property only)
    • authorised agent—if you have authorised someone to act as your agent, they are eligible to lodge on your behalf.


    Townhouse and unit owners

    If the complaint relates to a unit or townhouse complex:

    • the individual unit owner/s must lodge the complaint for defects about their individual property
    • the body corporate representative must lodge the complaint about any common property.


    Example—Plaster damage in ceiling as a result of a roof leak, the body corporate will lodge a complaint for the roof leak and the individual owners will lodge a complaint for the defects occurring inside the property which were caused by the roof leak.

  2. Your contract needs to be for domestic or commercial  building work as defined in schedule 2 of the Queensland Building and Construction Commission Act 1991.  

    This includes things like:

    • building a new house, duplex or unit complex
    • renovations, repairs, extensions or additions to a house, duplex or unit complex
    • swimming pools, pergolas, carports, garages or structural landscaping
    • trade work including carpentry, tiling, painting, waterproofing
    • commercial or industrial construction or renovation.
  3. The value of the contract, including labour, materials and GST, needs to be:

    • more than $3,300 for most building work
    • more than $1,100 for hydraulic design work
    • of any value for
      • plumbing
      • drainage
      • gas fitting
      • chemical termite management system installation
      • building design
      • site classification
      • fire protection
      • completed building inspections.
  4. Our power to assist in defective work disputes is limited by statutory timeframes. It is important to lodge your complaint as soon as possible to keep as many options as possible open to you.

    Timeframes are different for different types of defective work.

    Non-structural defects

    If your contract is for a new build or major renovation you should have a defects liability period of 6 or 12 months in your contract. If you notice a non-structural defect within this period, you must first notify your contractor and try to resolve the issue with them.

    You can lodge a defective work complaint with us if:

    • working with your contractor does not resolve the issue
    • you are outside your defect liability period
    • you do not have a defect liability period in your contract.


    A complaint must be lodged to us as soon as possible and no later than 12 months from completion of work.

    Please note, that the timeframes to qualify for a claim under home warranty insurance is less. For possible entitlement to a claim, you must have lodged your complaint within:

    • 7 months of completion of work for defects that appear within the first 6 months from completion.

    Structural defects

    If you notice a structural defect, a complaint must be lodged as soon as possible and within 12 months of noticing the defect. Our powers to help are also limited by the time that has passed since the contract has ended. We only have:

    • 6 years and 6 months from when the building work was completed to issue the contractor with a direction to rectify.


    Please note, that the timeframes to qualify for a claim under home warranty insurance is less. You must have lodged your complaint within both:

    • 3 months of noticing the defect
    • 6 years and 6 months from whichever date is earliest of the:
      • home warranty premium being paid
      • contract being entered into
      • work commencing.
    It is important to note that even given the timeframes provided, we will always consider all circumstances when assessing a complaint and deciding what assistance is available.

When we can't help

If your complaint doesn't meet the above eligibility requirements we will not be able to help you.

Nor can we help with the following:

  • complaints about electrical work. Contact the Electrical Safety Office
  • when you cannot identify the contractor responsible for the work
  • defects are not as a result of the contractor (e.g. natural disaster)
  • complaints about dividing fences (except if the work is defective).

Example defective work scenarios

  1. Madison hired a contractor to build an extension on her house but has now, 18 months later, noticed a water leak in the ceiling. The contractor keeps promising to send someone out to fix the leak, but nothing ever happens. 

    Madison is eligible to use our dispute service because she meets the following criteria: 

    • she is the property owner 
    • the work was building work 
    • the contract has been completed. 

    What outcome can Madison expect? 

    Madison had notified the contractor in writing of the roof leak and included all the required documents with her online submission, putting her in the best position to avoid delays by having to provide further information later.  

    One of our Resolution Services officers will review Madison’s submission and contact both Madison and her contractor. The contractor will be asked to contact Madison to arrange to view and fix the leak.  

    If the contractor repairs the leak, no inspection of the item is required, both parties can move on and the case will be finalised. 

    If the contractor fails to repair the leak, one of our building inspectors will arrange to inspect the item with Madison and the contractor.  

    If the item is defective building work, the contractor is likely to be issued a Direction to Rectify giving them 35 days to fix the leak.  

    The Direction to Rectify will appear on the contractor’s public licence history. If the contractor delays or obstructs compliance with a Direction to Rectify, they can receive a fine or be prosecuted.  

    As the work is residential construction work, Madison’s case will then be assessed for a possible claim under the Queensland Home Warranty Scheme. If a claim is approved, we will recover the cost from the contractor.  

  2. Sherri and Ian are looking forward to moving into their new home. The contract is at handover stage and the final payment is due. Sherri and Ian have noticed the cooktop is scratched and the plasterboard wall in the living room is dented. They don’t want to pay the final payment until these are fixed. 

    Sherri and Ian are eligible to apply to use our dispute resolution service because they meet the following criteria: 

    • they are the property owners 
    • the contract has been completed (reached practical completion). 

    What outcome can Sherri and Ian expect? 

    Sherri and Ian have no issue with the quality of building work performed but have an issue with an installed product (cooktop) and damage to the dwelling (living room wall dent). 

    One of our resolution services officers will review Sherri and Ian’s submission and call both them and their contractor to try to facilitate an acceptable agreement. If this happens, the case will be finalised. The QBCC is not a party to the agreement, and we do not formally document it. 

    If the parties cannot agree, and as there is no issue with the quality of the work, we would not conduct an inspection.  

    The case will be closed and both parties will receive a letter from the QBCC allowing them to apply to QCAT if they would like to commence a building dispute. 

  3. Franco represents a body corporate of 52 home units. The body corporate hired a painter to repaint the exterior of the units.  

    The paint is peeling and bubbling in large patches on various areas of some of the units. The painter won’t return Franco’s calls.  

    Franco hired a building consultant to prepare a report on the paint work. The building consultant has provided a report listing 23 items. 

    Franco is eligible to apply to use our dispute resolution service because he meets the following criteria: 

    • he represents a body corporate 
    • the complaint is about a common property area 
    • the work is building work 
    • the contract has been completed. 

    What outcome can Franco expect? 

    Franco had notified the painter in writing of each of the 23 items and listed these individually in his online submission, putting him in the best position to avoid delays by having to provide further information later.  

    One of our resolution services officers will review Franco’s submission and contact both Franco and the painter. The painter will be asked to contact Franco to arrange to view and fix the items. If the painter repairs the items, no inspection is required, both parties can move on and the case will be finalised. 

    If the painter fails to repair the items, one of our building inspectors will arrange to inspect the items with Franco and the painter.  

    If any items are defective building work, the painter is likely to be issued a Direction to Rectify giving 35 days to fix the defective items. The Direction to Rectify will appear on the painter’s public licence history. If the painter delays or obstructs compliance with a Direction to Rectify they can receive a fine or be prosecuted.  

    Franco’s case may then be assessed for a possible claim under the Queensland Home Warranty Scheme. If a claim is approved, we will recover the cost from the contractor. 

  4. Sam was hired to install a new bathroom in a home unit. The contract is not yet finished but Sam’s clients are unhappy with the floor tiling and think it is uneven. They are refusing to pay his progress payment until it is fixed.  

    Sam has checked the Australian Standard for ceramic tiles and the QBCC Standards and Tolerances Guide and does not believe the tiling is defective building work.  

    Sam is eligible to apply to use our dispute resolution service because he meets the following criteria: 

    • he is the principal contractor 
    • the work is domestic building work  
    • the contract has not been completed.  

    What outcome can Sam expect?  

    One of our resolution services officers will review Sam’s submission and contact both Sam and his clients.  

    Sam will be asked to contact his clients to arrange to view and fix the tiles. Because Sam is confident the work is not defective, Sam is comfortable not repairing the tiling and for the issue to proceed to a QBCC inspection.  

    Our building inspector will arrange to inspect the tiles with both Sam and his clients present. If the tiles are not defective building work, both parties will receive a written response from the QBCC and the case will be finalised.  

    If Sam’s clients still refuse to pay his progress payment, Sam can apply to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) for a decision about the overdue payment.  

    If Sam has misinterpreted the Australian Standards and/or the QBCC Standards and Tolerances Guide and our building inspector determines the tiling is defective, we will work with both parties to try to reach an outcome that will result in the work being fixed.  

  5. Janet bought a new home unit and is getting the bathroom renovated. The job is nearly finished but she is unhappy with the grouting of the tiles in the shower. The contractor believes the work is acceptable. Janet doesn't want to pay the final payment unless the work is fixed. 

    Janet is eligible to use our dispute resolution service because she meets the following criteria: 

    • she is the property owner 
    • the work is domestic building work  
    • the contract has not been completed. 

    What outcome can Janet expect? 

    One of our resolution services officers will review Janet’s submission and contact both Janet and the contractor to try to facilitate an agreement.  

    If the contractor agrees to repair the item, no inspection is required, both parties can move on. If this happens, the case will be finalised. The QBCC is not a party to the agreement, and we do not formally document it. 

    If both parties cannot agree, we will arrange to inspect the item with Janet and the contractor. If the item is defective building work, we will work with both parties to try to reach an outcome that will result in the work being fixed. 

    At the end of the process, both parties will receive a letter from the QBCC allowing them to apply to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) if they want to commence a building dispute.   

  6. Nico hired a shopfitter to fit out the shop he is leasing. During construction, he notices some of the shelving units are not level and are not in the position he wanted. The shopfitter has refused to fix the work.  

    Nico is ineligible to apply to use our dispute resolution service because: 

    • he is not the property owner 
    • the work is commercial and not domestic building work. 

    What help can Nico get? 

    If Nico wants to apply to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) to resolve his dispute, QCAT will require him to apply to the QBCC before they will accept an application.  

    Nico must submit a building complaint with us and we will assess it. Then both Nico and the shopfitter will receive a letter from the QBCC allowing them to apply to QCAT if they want to commence a building dispute. 

  1. Peter is a licensed builder with a new home construction underway. Peter’s waterproofing subcontractor Eric hasn’t installed a compliant water stop angle and won’t repair it. Peter believes the work is defective. 

    Peter is eligible to use our dispute resolution service because he meets the following criteria: 

    • he is the principal contractor 
    • the work is domestic building work  
    • the contract has not been completed. 

    What outcome can Peter expect? 

    One of our resolution services officers will review Peter’s submission and contact both Peter and Eric to try to facilitate an agreement. If they reach an acceptable agreement they can move on and the case will be finalised. The QBCC is not a party to the agreement, and we do not formally document it. 

    If Peter and Eric cannot agree, a QBCC Building Inspector will arrange to inspect the work. 

    If the subcontractor is found to be responsible for defective building work, our building inspector may issue both Peter and Eric a formal notice to fix the work (called a Direction to Rectify). The Direction to Rectify will appear on the QBCC online licence search for both Peter and Eric. Peter and Eric will both have 35 days to fix the work. 

    At the end of the process, both parties will receive a letter from QBCC allowing them to apply to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) if they want to commence a building dispute. 

  2. Eric subcontracted to a large commercial builder to install a new roof on an office building. After the contract was completed, the builder notified Eric of a water leak in the reception area. Eric has inspected the work and does not believe he is responsible for the roof leak.   

    Eric is ineligible to apply to use our service because: 

    • he is not the principal contractor 
    • the work was commercial and not domestic building work 
    • the contract has been completed. 

     

  3. Lisa has subcontracted to a builder to install 6mm fibre cement sheet wall cladding in an office building. Halfway through the job, the builder complains to Lisa that the stud spacing is too wide.  

    Lisa is ineligible to apply to use our dispute resolution service because: 

    • she is not the principal contractor  
    • the work is not domestic building work.  

Contractual issues?

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Last reviewed: 30 Aug 2021 Last published: 30 Aug 2021
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