Non-completion of building work | Queensland Building and Construction Commission

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What is non-completion of building work?

We use the term non-completion of building work to refer to scenarios where a contractor has failed to complete all work under a contract for residential construction work. 

You can lodge a claim for non-completion when a contractor does not finish the work they were contracted to carry out because:

  • they go bankrupt (individual) or are placed into liquidation (company)
  • they have their licence suspended or cancelled
  • they are injured
  • they die
  • you validly terminate the contract (PDF).

It does not include where the contract has reached practical completion, but individual pieces of work have not been finished properly. For these instances you can apply for assistance through our defective work process.

    Currently in a dispute?

    If the building work remains unfinished due to a dispute between parties, we may be able to help you resolve this dispute and get the project moving again. See how we may be able to help with disputes about:

    Who we can help

    We may be able to help you with non-completion of residential construction work if you are a:

    • property owner—you are the owner of the house or unit 
    • body corporate—you represent the body corporate of a residential complex (for common property only)
    • authorised agent—if you have authorised someone to act as your agent, they are eligible to lodge on your behalf.

    How we can help

    If your contract for residential construction work was for a fixed price and the contractor is unable to complete the project, you may be entitled to a claim under the QBCC's Queensland Home Warranty Scheme for:

    • additional completion costs including the repair of any defective work
    • reimbursement of the deposit paid under the contract if work has not yet started.

    NOTE: If the work remains unfinished due to a dispute with the contractor about defective work or contractual or payment matters, you should seek to resolve that dispute through our dispute resolution services.

      To qualify for a claim under home warranty

      To qualify for a non-completion claim under the Queensland Home Warranty Scheme, your situation must meet the following criteria:

      • the contract was for residential construction work
      • the contract was for a fixed price
      • the contract has been lawfully terminated at the contractor's default or the contractor has died, or the contractor is a company that no longer exists (e.g. deregistered), or the contractor is bankrupt or in liquidation and their licence has been cancelled
      • the contract ended within 2 years of the day work started
      • you make your claim with the QBCC within 3 months of the date the contract ended.

      Non-completion with defects

      If there are defects in the incomplete works, QBCC will:

      • hold the contractor accountable despite your contract being terminated
      • insist that the contractor corrects the defects
      • assess any outstanding defects if the contractor fails to fix the defects within the specified time.

      QBCC will not direct a contractor to rectify defective works if the contractor:

      • as an individual—is bankrupt 
      • as a company—is in liquidation or has been deregistered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

      How to lodge a non-completion claim

      1. We can only process a claim for non-completion under home warranty if your contract is lawfully terminated. Note, you do not need to terminate your contract if the contractor:

        • has died
        • is a company that has been deregistered
        • had their licence cancelled and is an individual who is bankrupt or a company that is in liquidation.

        Do not try to terminate the contract yourself if the contractor has defaulted in some other way.

        You should get legal advice to see whether you can and should terminate your contract. You can find a solicitor to help you by contacting the Queensland Law Society.

        WARNING about terminating your contract.

        Terminating a building contract for any reason is a very serious matter that may, if not done properly, cause major financial and legal problems for a party wrongly terminating.

        For a home owner, failure to properly terminate their contract may result in not being entitled to a claim under the Queensland Home Warranty Scheme administered by QBCC (e.g. cover for non-completion may not be available).

        It is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED that owners and contractors obtain formal legal advice before taking steps to terminate their building contract. If there is a written contract (as required under Queensland legislation), proper termination will usually require strict adherence to the documentation and procedures for termination set out in the General Conditions of the contract itself. 

        How to terminate a contract (PDF, 145KB)

      2. As well as terminating your contract, we recommend you:

        • secure the building site. Health and safety on the site is the responsibility of the property owner. We don't provide a ‘make safe’ service. If there are any immediate safety concerns, we recommend you take steps to mitigate any risk to occupants and/or visitors (e.g. restrict access to any unsafe areas).
        • do not respond to demands for payments from other parties, including from subcontractors
        • instruct your bank in writing to make no further payments to your contractor
        • do not engage another contractor, or attempt any work on-site yourself, without QBCC approval as this may affect your claim.
      1. Mandatory documents

        You will need to supply us with:

        • a copy of the contract (including terms and conditions)
        • specifications (if referred to in your contract)
        • variation documents
        • approved building plans if the work requires approval
        • council development or building approval if the work requires approval
        • evidence of all payments made to contractor, e.g. copies of receipts issued by the contractor
        • evidence the contract is at an end, e.g. a copy of all termination notices and any other correspondence about terminating the contract sent to the contractor.

        Other useful documents

        It may also be useful for you to provide us with:

        • engineering or other types of Inspection Certificates for work completed to date
        • quotes to complete work if you have any
        • evidence of site work not having commenced if making a claim for refund of deposit
        • drainage plan
        • relevant correspondence between you and the contractor.

        This may not be all the information we will need to assess your claim. We may contact you after you lodge your claim to request more documents.

      2. You can lodge the completed claim form and copies of all related documentation to the QBCC (do not send your originals) by:

      Is your site secure and safe?

      We recommend that you secure the building site from all unauthorised parties. 

      Health and safety is your responsibility. QBCC does not provide a 'make safe' service.

      If you have any immediate safety concerns, we recommend you take steps to mitigate any risk to occupants and visitors (e.g. restrict access to any unsafe areas).
       

      What happens next?

      We will register your submission and it will be assigned to a Resolution Services officer for assessment. If it qualifies, we will progress it as a home warranty insurance non-completion claim. You will receive an email confirming receipt of the complaint, which provides your unique case number.

      If it does not meet the criteria for a claim against home warranty, we will provide you with a letter allowing you to apply to the QCAT if you would like their help.


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