Commissioner's blog: New guide addresses building fee increases, delays
Building a new home can be an exciting time, but many Western Australians going through the process right now may be facing unexpected price rises and construction delays.
To help set the record straight on when prices can and cannot be increased, our colleagues at Building and Energy have published a new guide outlining what builders and their clients need to know about home building contract work valued between $7,500 and $500,000.
Generally a builder cannot increase a fixed-price contract unless the reason is outside of their control, such as the consumer failing to get finance approval in time or a natural disaster holding up the build.
This means that any increases in building material prices should not be passed on to the consumer, nor should they bear the cost of delays caused by labour shortages.
The guide covers the options available to consumers if they are unable to pay a legitimate cost increase, and what the law says about building work not completed within the timeframe specified in the contract.
For consumers who believe a price increase is excessive or unjustified, or those who may have agreed to an increase before understanding their rights, advice is provided on how they can dispute the additional charges.
Guidance is given about how a builder should approach cost variations and why a consumer may have only 10 business days to dispute such an increase.
Building and Energy urges consumers to research their rights under WA’s home building contract laws and to talk to their builders to understand the reasons for the price rise.
Consumers should also ask if there is an obligation they have not met and seek to understand why the delay is outside of the builder’s control.
It may be beneficial to get independent legal advice or to lodge a complaint with Building and Energy if the dispute can’t be resolved, via the website: www.dmirs.wa.gov.au/building-and-energy or by calling 1300 489 099.
The guide on price increases to home building work contracts can be found online at: www.commerce.wa.gov.au/publications/guide-price-increases-home-building-work-contracts
Commissioner for Consumer Protection
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