Compliance reports

Building disputes

Disputes – referred to as building service or home building work contract complaints

Any person adversely affected by the carrying out of a regulated building service may lodge a complaint alleging that a building service has not been carried out in a proper and proficient manner or is faulty or unsatisfactory. This type of complaint can only be made within six years of the building service being completed.

A person under a home building work contract (HBWC) may also lodge a complaint regarding a breach of the contract or a breach of the Home Building Contracts Act 1991. This type of complaint must be lodged within three years of the cause of the breach arising.

Building service complaints may be lodged against both registered and unregistered building service providers. Home building work contract complaints may be lodged by either party under the contract, including by the builder against the owner should a breach of the contract be alleged.

The purpose of dispute resolution is to provide a remedy or a determination to the issues in dispute. This is done without regard to who is at fault or apportioning blame to a particular party. If concerns with regard to conduct, or a breach of statutory law is identified during the course of dealing with a building service or home building work complaint, these concerns are referred to the Building Commission Enforcement Branch for consideration outside the dispute resolution process.

If warranted, the Enforcement Branch will commence an investigation into the matter if it is considered that a statutory offence or disciplinary complaint may be substantiated.

Dispute resolution process

In 2016/17, the Building Commission received 900 disputes. Of these, 703 were building service disputes, 119 were HBWC disputes and 78 included both a building service and HBWC element.

Table 1: Disputes lodged with the Building Commission

  2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17
Building service 611 677 727 711 703
HBWC 139 147 166 119 119
Building service and HBWC 41 47 70 88 78
Total 791 871 963 918 900

 

Complaints against registered/licensed service providers made up 534 of the disputes received, while complaints against unregistered/unlicensed service providers comprosed 324. In addition, there were 42 complaints where building service providers had contractural disputes with an owner.

Table 2: Disputes lodged with the Building Commission – service provider type

  2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17
Registered/Licensed 777 681 572 552 534
Builder 707 639 543 520 503
Plumber 21 20 13 15 7
Painter 49 22 16 17 24
Unregistered/Unlicensed 14 173 372 350 324
Builder 14 164 363 341 316
Painter 0 9 9 7 7
Complaint against owner – HBWC 0 17 19 16 42
Total 791 871 963 918 900

 

There were 896 disputes finalised in 2016/17. Finalised disputes may include those carried over from previous years. Of the disputes finalised, 343 resulted in an order being made by the Building Commissioner, 199 were withdrawn, 178 were referred to the State Administrative Tribunal, 66 were refused by the Building Commissioner, 56 resulted in an order being made by consent and 54 were dismissed by the Building Commissioner. 

Disputes may be refused for a variety of reasons, including those that have not been lodged in accordance with the relevant legislation or that are lodged outside of the statutory time limit.

Table 3: Finalised disputes – outcomes

 

  2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17
Complaint refused by Building Commissioner 70 102 80 72 66
Order made by Building Commissioner 206 238 311 387 343
Order made by consent 69 71 50 60 56
Referred to State Administrative Tribunal 287 149 193 173 178
Complaint withdrawn 147 182 217 249 199
Complaint dismissed by the Building Commissioner 28 54 62 80 54
Total 807 796 913 1,021 896

 

 

 

 

 

 

It took on average 165 calendar days to close a dispute in 2016/17. This includes matters that have been refused or referred to the State Administrative Tribunal. Of these, 32 per cent were finalised within three months, 34 per cent were finalised between three and six months, 27 per cent were finalised between six and 12 months and seven per cent took greater than 12 months to finalise.

Table 4: Finalised disputes – timeliness

 

  2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17
Average calendar days to close dispute 174 169 169 195 165
Disputes finalised within 3 months (%) 36 37 36 29 32
Disputes finalised between 3 and 6 months (%) 34 34 32 35 34
Disputes finalised between 6 and 12 months (%) 21 22 23 23 27
Disputes finalised greater than 12 months (%) 9 7 9 13 7

 

 

 

 

 

Enforcement

Enforcement – referred to as investigations (statutory offence and disciplinary complaints)

A disciplinary complaint can be lodged in connection with the conduct of a registered building service provider and a statutory offence complaint can be lodged about both registered and non-registered building service providers. Registered building service providers include builders, plumbers, painters, building surveyors and approved owner-builders.

A statutory breach relates to allegations that a building service provider has breached statutory obligations or where an unregistered person performs work which requires registration.

The aim of an investigation is to establish the facts and, where applicable, attribute fault to a party.

There were 211 statutory offence and disciplinary complaints received in 2016/17. Of these, 68 related to disciplinary matters and 143 to statutory offences.

Table 1: Investigations received – compliant type

 

  2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17
Disciplinary matter – registered/licensed 105 90 88 101 68
Statutory offence – registered/licensed 162 140 157 21 29
Statutory offence – unregistered/unlicensed 1 1 41 123 114
Total 268 231 286 245 211

 

 

 

 

Of the 211 statutory offence and disciplinary complaints received in 2016/17, 129 related to a building service, 40 to a painting service, 34 to a plumbing service, six to building surveying and two to adjudicating work.

Table 2: Investigations received – building service

 

  2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17
Building service 180 137 163 166 129
Painting service 31 44 42 42 40
Plumbing service 55 43 77 29 34
Building surveying 2 7 3 8 6
Adjudicating 0 0 1 0 2
Total 268 231 286 245 211

 

 

 

 

 

There were 55 disciplinary matters and 134 statutory offences finalised in 2016/17.

Of the disciplinary matters finalised, 34 were refused by the Building Commissioner, 10 were referred to the State Administrative Tribunal and five were referred to the Building Services Board.

Table 3: Disciplinary matters finalised – outcomes

 

  2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17
Complaint refused by Building Commissioner 51 36 38 41 34
Complaint dismissed by Building Commissioner 15 34 11 23 2
No action/no breach 19 2 4 4 1
Infringement notice 0 0 2 0 0
Administrative warning 15 3 1 1 0
Referred to State Administrative Tribunal 5 6 8 13 10
Referred to Building Services Board 3 17 18 17 5
Referred to other 0 1 0 2 3
Other 0 0 0 1 0
Total 108 99 82 102 55

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of the 134 statutory offence complaints finalised in 2016/17, 108 resulted in an administrative warning, 13 in no action/no breach and 11 in prosecution.

Table 4: Statutory offence complaints finalised – outcomes

 

  2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17
Prosecution 10 21 6 35 11
Referred to State Administrative Tribunal 2 0 0 2 0
Infringement notice 10 19 0 1 1
Administrative warning 131 113 148 102 108
No action/no breach 47 36 20 13 13
Total 200 189 174 153 134

 

 

 

 

 

 

It took on average 122 calendar days to close statutory offence and disciplinary complaints in 2016/17. Of these, 62 percent were finalised within three months, 10 per cent between three and six months, 16 per cent between six and 12 months and 12 per cent greater than 12 months.

Table 5: Investigations finalised

 

  2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17
Average days to close dispute 168 177 111 142 122
Investigations finalised within 3 months (%) 48 58 74 59 62
Investigations finalised between 3 and 6 months (%) 10 11 4 9 10
Investigations finalised between 6 and 12 months (%) 32 13 14 20 16
Investigations finalised greater than 12 months (%) 10 17 8 11 12

 

 

 

 

 

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