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 2020/21 there were 771 complaints lodged comprising 608 building service complaints, 113 home building work contract (HBWC) complaints and 50 complaints relating to both building service and HBWC complaints.
Table 1: Disputes lodged
|Building service and HBWC||79||53||40||42||50|
In 2020/21 complaints against registered/licensed service providers made up 514 of the 771 disputes received, while complaints against unregistered/unlicensed services providers comprised 253. In addition, there were 4 complaints where building service providers had contractual disputes with an owner.
Table 2: Disputes lodged – service provider type
|Complaint against owner – HBWC||43||26||32||25||4|
There were 643 disputes finalised in 2020/21 with 647 outcomes recorded. During that year there were 261 orders issued by the Building Commissioner, 152 complaints referred to the State Administrative Tribunal and 70 complaints withdrawn due to intervention by Building and Energy Staff.
Outcome and finalisation numbers may vary due to some complaints resulting in multiple outcomes, for example an order may have been issued for part of a complaint by the Building Commissioner with the remainder of the complaint being referred to the State Administrative Tribunal. 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
|Complaint refused by Building Commissioner||66||64||46||34||32|
|Order made by Building Commissioner||330||303||229||217||242|
|Conciliation Order issued||68||49||43||25||19|
|Referred to State Administrative Tribunal||178||156||141||139||152|
|Complaint withdrawn due to intervention||54||41||36||60||70|
|Complaint dismissed by the Building Commissioner||54||58||33||31||22|
It took on average 163 calendar days to close a dispute in 2020/21. This includes matters that have been refused or referred to the State Administrative Tribunal. Of these, 45% were finalised within three months, 71% were finalised within six months, 94% were finalised within 12 months and 97% were finalised within 18 months.
Table 4: Finalised disputes – timeliness
|Average calendar days to close dispute||164||162||175||171||163|
|Disputes finalised within 3 months (%)||33||34||32||33||45|
|Disputes finalised within 6 months (%)||67||67||65||65||71|
|Disputes finalised within 12 months (%)||94||83||92||92||94|
|Disputes finalised within 18 months (%)||98||98||97||99||97|
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, 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 101 statutory offence and disciplinary complaints received in 2020/21. Of these, 56 related to disciplinary matters and 45 to statutory offences.
Table 1: Investigations received – complaint type
|Disciplinary matter – registered/licensed||67||88||54||72||56|
|Statutory offence – unregistered/unlicensed||144||166||58||60||45|
Of the 101 statutory offence and disciplinary complaints received in 2020/21, 76 related to a building service, 19 to a painting service and 6 to building surveying.
Table 2: Investigations received – building service
There were 60 disciplinary matters and 35 statutory offenses finalised in 2020/21.
Of the disciplinary matters finalised, 37 were refused by the Building Commissioner, 20 were referred to the Building services Board and 12 were dismissed by the Building Commissioner.
Table 3: Disciplinary matters finalised – outcomes
|Complaint refused by Building Commissioner||34||45||36||28||37|
|Complaint dismissed by Building Commissioner||2||11||13||19||16|
|Referred to Building Services Board||5||14||14||21||20|
|No action/no breach||1||2||5||7||1|
|Referred to other||3||6||-||1||-|
|Referred to State Administrative Tribunal||10||2||2||4||2|
*A finalised disciplinary matter may result in multiple respondents being sanctioned.
Of the 35 statutory offence complaints finalised in 2020/21, 19 resulted in an administrative warning, 10 in no action/no breach and 4 in prosecution.
Table 4: Statutory offence complaints finalised – outcomes
|Referred to prosecution||11||5||4||4||4|
|No action/no breach||11||10||19||17||10|
It took on average 428 calendar days to close statutory offence and disciplinary complaints in 2020/21. Of these 51 per cent were finalised within three months, 66 per cent within six months, 74 per cent within twelve months, and 76 per cent within eighteen months.
Table 5: Investigations finalised
|Average days to close dispute||122||150||266||252||428|
|Investigations finalised within 3 months (%)||62||65||44||56||51|
|Investigations finalised within 6 months (%)||72||72||54||63||66|
|Investigations finalised within 12 months (%)||88||83||64||74||74|
|Investigations finalised within 18 months (%)||100||91||84||82||76|
General inspection and audits reports
A general inspection (snapshot) into waterproofing wet areas
A general inspection investigation into re-roofing of buildings
A summary of technical building inspections (Class 1 - residential buildings) 2019–20
A general inspection (snapshot) into wind classification compliance for Western Australian houses
State-wide cladding audit report
A general inspection into bush fire building requirements in Western Australia
A summary of technical building inspections 2016-17
Perth Children’s Hospital audit - fire walls: Supplementary report
A general inspection into Yuanda-supplied products in the Western Australian building industry: Final report
Perth Children's Hospital audit: Final report
Investigation into gypsum plasterboard ceiling collapses
A summary of technical building inspections 2016-17 (mid-year)
A summary of technical building inspections 2015-16
Perth Children's Hospital asbestos: Interim report
Aluminium composite panelling in high-rise buildings: Interim report
A general inspection into sheet metal clad timber framed roof construction in Western Australia
Background information: A general inspection into sheet metal clad timber framed roof construction in Western Australia
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