Can you make the builder rectify the problems identified?
We are often asked if we can make the builder fix non-compliant items that are identified during a new home building inspection. The simple answer is no, we do not have the authority to force the builder rectify unacceptable work however we utilise elements from the law i.e. the Building Act, Building Regulations and Domestic Building Contracts Act to back up items we identify.
Some may argue that the builder does not have to listen to ‘private inspection reports’ therefore they are a waste of money. We strongly believe that it is much better to be aware if there was a significant problem with their new home rather than being completely oblivious. Better the devil you know – If you do not raise issues, they are never going to be fixed!
Here are the ways in which our expertise, comprehensive systems and processes ensures a better build:
Any item that we identify as ‘non-compliant’ during our stage building inspections are always related back to a relevant Code, Standard or area of your contract documentation/drawings. Defects are not a matter of opinion; they simply do not meet the required standard. Keeping to the facts and acting professionally always ensures things do not get personal. We choose not to have an ‘us’ against ‘them’ mentality with your builder, instead we try to work with them to get the best possible outcome for you, our mutual client. Here are some main points from section 8 of the Domestic Building Contracts Act which we can utilise:
- The following warranties about the work to be carried out under a domestic building contract are part of every domestic building contract—
- (a) the builder warrants that the work will be carried out in a proper and workmanlike manner and in accordance with the plans and specifications set out in the contract;
- (c) the builder warrants that the work will be carried out in accordance with, and will comply with, all laws and legal requirements including, without limiting the generality of this warranty, the Building Act 1993 and the regulations made under that Act5;
- (d) the builder warrants that the work will be carried out with reasonable care and skill and will be completed by the date (or within the period) specified by the contract;
Clear and easy to follow reports
Our detailed and easy to read reports ensure your Site Supervisor and the relevant trades know the exact location of the defect/non-compliant item and can therefore easily close it out. They are unbiased and 100% factual and are generally sent the same day so there is no hold up to work.
We never try to ‘fluff up’ a report to make it look lengthier to justify what we do. In fact, we much prefer it when we can tell our clients it was great inspection and can congratulate the Site Supervisor on a job well-done.
It is all well and good to highlight non-compliant items at each stage however, the most important thing is to ensure that any problems are fixed. We include re-inspection of rectification works as standard part of our service for clients within our core service area. This means that if required, we will re-visit the house once at frame, pre-plaster, waterproof/fix and final stages to ensure that any items that were identified have been closed out.
Knowing that we will be back to check items have been fixed holds the Supervisor accountable. The client cannot be talked around to accept something that is unacceptable, and the issue cannot be covered up.
All of our Assessors hold a Registered Building Practitioner qualification with the Victorian Building Authority (VBA). Unfortunately, the private building inspection industry is not regulated in Victoria therefore there are many out there with no qualification and little experience. Many builders are now requiring this qualification or else they will not accept the private inspection report. It is very important to check that the actual person conducting the inspections is a Registered Building Practitioner (Domestic Builder – Unlimited: DB-U) with the VBA – not just one person from the company.
Having this registration also gives our Assessors credibility on site as it is not easy to obtain. Many years of construction experience needs to be demonstrated and proven, along with years of study so the VBA can validate the application and approve the registration.
Local experience & rapport
We are owned and operated in Geelong and our core service area reflects this. Being local means, we often cross paths with the same Supervisors – this works to everyone’s advantage as they know how we operate and what to expect with our inspections and reports. Likewise, we have a good idea of which individuals are more likely to push back and plan for this accordingly. We pride ourselves on having earned respect with supervisors in our region due to our high standards and demeanour in which we have when dealing with them.
Rational guidance & advice
Construction is sometimes a bit murky; it can throw curve balls and there can be grey areas. Thankfully, we enjoy problem solving and are always up for a challenge! If on the odd occasion things do not seem to be going to plan, we support our clients on the best way forward.
It is common for clients to want to go straight to Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria (DBDRV) which we always advise should be a last resort as it is timely, very costly and no party really ‘wins’. Depending on the significance of the items there are a number of avenues that can be pursued. For example, if there are difficulties with the Site Supervisor, the matter can be elevated to the Construction Manager/Builder, it can then go to a Regional Manager. It can also be referred to the Relevant Building Surveyor (RBS) and if no success with these, the Major Domestic Building Contract has clauses related to Dispute Resolution and the DBDRV processes.
Should a compromise be made, or advice from the relevant expert e.g. structural engineer be given, we advise to request written confirmation. Our clients can rest assured that this documentation along with our detailed report of the items (including marked-up photos and exact locations) which can be utilised in the future should problems arise as a result of the non-compliant item.
We always strongly advise clients that generally items can be closed out with good communication and follow ups from all parties therefore formal disputes should be the last option.
Eye for detail
Our Assessors have meticulous attention to detail and an eye for detail and this trait is something that cannot be taught. While our thorough inspections have a checklist for what is checked at a minimum, prior to visiting site, our Assessors review the contract documentation and risk-rate specific items that may need to be checked at each stage. These items may be unique to the house or may something that we commonly find problems with. Our Assessors attend site with an open mind and often one thing leads to another, and additional problems can be noticed.
Each stage of any building project is like a chain, – if you miss one link, it can have a knock-on effect with the subsequent stages. Too often we have people coming to us (stressed, worried, and frustrated) with major problems halfway through or at the end of their build. Most of the time the issues could have been avoided, or much less severe if we had been a part of the project from the very beginning.
Ultimately having an expert building consultant on your side from the very beginning gives you leverage, your concerns credibility and someone to help advocate for you. We are very passionate about quality construction and are working to raise the standard of the industry for our clients. We treat each project as if it were our own and would love to help with yours!