Compliance reports

Building disputes

Disputes (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 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 2017/18, Building and Energy received 730 disputes. Of these, 574 were building service disputes, 102 were HBWC disputes and 54 included both a building service and HBWC element.

Table 1: Disputes lodged 

  2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18
Building service 675 725 709 704 574
HBWC 147 164 119 117 102
Building service and HBWC 47 70 88 78 54
Total 869 959 916 900 730

 

Complaints against registered/licensed service providers made up 413 of the disputes received, while complaints against unregistered/unlicensed services providers comprised 291. In addition, there were 26 complaints where building service providers had contractual disputes with an owner.

Table 2: Disputes lodged – service provider type

  2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18
Registered/Licensed 680 570 551 534 413
Builder 638 541 519 505 377
Plumber 20 13 15 6 9
Painter 22 16 17 23 27
Unregistered/Unlicensed 172 371 349 323 291
Builder 164 362 340 315 286
Plumber 0 0 2 1 1
Painter 8 9 7 7 4
Complaint against owner – HBWC 17 19 16 43 26
Total 869 959 916 900 730

 

There were 828 disputes finalised in 2017/18. Finalised disputes may include those carried over from previous years. Of the disputes finalised, 303 resulted in an order being made by the Building Commissioner, 200 were referred to the State Administrative Tribunal, 159 resulted in an order being made by consent, 64 were withdrawn, 58 were dismissed by the Building Commissioner and 44 were refused 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

 

  2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18
Complaint refused by Building Commissioner 102 80 72 65 44
Order made by Building Commissioner 238 309 386 340 303
Order made by consent 71 50 60 56 159
Referred to State Administrative Tribunal 146 193 173 178 200
Complaint withdrawn 184 215 249 199 64
Complaint dismissed by the Building Commissioner 54 62 79 54 58
Total 795 909 1,019 892 828

 

 

 

 

 

 

It took on average 163 calendar days to close a dispute in 2017/18. This includes matters that have been refused or referred to the State Administrative Tribunal. Of these, 33 per cent were finalised within three months, 33 per cent were finalised between three and six months, 27 per cent were finalised between 6 and 12 months and 7% took greater than 12 months to finalise.

Table 4: Finalised disputes – timeliness

 

  2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18
Average calendar days to close dispute 169 169 195 165 163
Disputes finalised within 3 months (%) 37 36 29 32 33
Disputes finalised between 3 and 6 months (%) 34 32 35 34 33
Disputes finalised between 6 and 12 months (%) 22 23 23 27 27
Disputes finalised greater than 12 months (%) 7 9 13 7 7

 

 

 

 

 

Enforcement

Enforcement (investigations into statutory offences 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 254 statutory offence and disciplinary complaints received in 2017/18. Of these, 88 related to disciplinary matters and 166 to statutory offences.

Table 1: Investigations received – complaint type

 

  2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18
Disciplinary matter – registered/licensed 90 88 101 67 88
Statutory offence – registered/licensed 140 157 21 29 88
Statutory offence – unregistered/unlicensed 1 41 123 115 78
Total 231 286 245 211 254

 

 

 

 

Of the 254 statutory offence and disciplinary complaints received in 2017/18, 113 related to a building service, 89 to a painting service, 31 to a plumbing service and 21 to building surveying.

Table 2: Investigations received – building service

 

  2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18
Building service 137 163 166 130 113
Painting service 44 42 42 39 89
Plumbing service 43 77 29 34 31
Building surveying 7 3 8 6 21
Adjudicating 0 1 0 2 0
Total 231 286 245 211 254

 

 

 

 

 

There were 80 disciplinary matters and 172 statutory offenses finalised in 2017/18.

Of the disciplinary matters finalised, 45 were refused by the Building Commissioner, 14 were referred to the Building services Board and 11 were dismissed by the Building Commissioner.

Table 3: Disciplinary matters finalised – outcomes

 

  2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18
Complaint refused by Building Commissioner 36 38 41 34 45
Complaint dismissed by Building Commissioner 34 11 23 2 11
No action/no breach 2 4 4 1 2
Infringement notice 0 2 0 0 0
Administrative warning 3 1 1 0 0
Referred to State Administrative Tribunal 6 4 13 10 2
Referred to Building Services Board 17 22 17 5 14
Referred to other 1 0 2 3 6
Other 0 0 1 0 0
Total 99 82 102 55 80

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of the 172 statutory offense complaints finalised in 2017/18, 152 resulted in an administrative warning, 13 in no action/no breach and six in prosecution.

Table 4: Statutory offence complaints finalised – outcomes

 

  2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18
Prosecution 21 6 33 7 6
Referred to State Administrative Tribunal 0 0 2 0 0
Infringement notice 19 0 1 1 1
Administrative warning 113 148 102 109 152
No action/no breach 36 20 15 16 13
Other 0 0 0 1 0
Total 189 174 153 134 172

 

 

 

 

 

 

It took on average 150 calendar days to close statutory offence and disciplinary complaints in 2017/18. Of these 65 per cent were finalised within three months, seven per cent between three and six months, 11 per cent between six and twelve months and 17 per cent greater than 12 months.

Table 5: Investigations finalised

 

  2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18
Average days to close dispute 177 111 142 122 150
Investigations finalised within 3 months (%) 58 74 59 62 65
Investigations finalised between 3 and 6 months (%) 11 4 9 10 7
Investigations finalised between 6 and 12 months (%) 13 14 20 16 11
Investigations finalised greater than 12 months (%) 17 8 11 12 17

 

 

 

 

 

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