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Resolving building disputes

If you are a homeowner, or a commercial building owner, and are having a dispute with someone who has done building work on your property or created building plans for your property, you can get help to resolve it.

Disputes involving a builder

If you have an issue with someone who you hired to do building work for you (such as a builder, contractor or designer), follow these steps to resolve the issue.

Step 1 – Tell the builder or contractor in writing

When you have a problem or concern about building work completed on or for your property, the first thing you should do is tell the person who you hired to do the work about your concerns. It is best to do this in writing as well as in person or over the phone.
When writing your letter:

  • keep it short and easy to understand
  • use facts and keep your emotions out of it
  • explain how you would like the problem fixed
  • make sure to date, sign, and keep a copy.

Allow 2 weeks for them to fix the problem, or offer you a solution you think is fair. Hopefully, you will be able to agree on an outcome.

Step 2 – Make a complaint to QBCC

If you are still not happy, you can you can make a complaint to your nearest Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) office. The QBCC may be able to assist with:

  • effective work complaints
  • complaints against certifiers
  • building design complaints
  • non-completion of work
  • complaints about pre-purchase and termite inspections
  • unlicensed contractor complaints.

QBCC will try to work with you and the person who carried out the building work to resolve the problem. If they can’t help you to come to an agreement, they may visit your home to inspect the building work.

If an inspection occurs, the QBCC representative will:

  • inspect the items of complaint and decide if they are defective building work
  • determine who is at fault (if there is defective building work)
  • decide what subsequent action is required (e.g. directing the builder or contractor to fix the defective building work).

If the builder or contractor doesn’t fix the work, QBCC may:

  • give a fine to the person who did your building work
  • add demerit points to their QBCC licence
  • publish details of their bad performance on record.

If you are not happy with the result of the QBCC’s dispute resolution process, you can contact the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).

Step 3 – Contact QCAT

Should you dispute the decision made by the QBCC, you can apply for a hearing with QCAT.

QCAT will only accept to hear your dispute if it is about:

  • the construction of a house or building
  • renovations, alterations, extensions, improvements or repairs to a house or building
  • a house’s or building’s services (e.g. electrical work, water supply, sewerage or drainage)
  • the demolition, removal or location of a house or building
  • building work done on the land of your private property (e.g. putting in a swimming pool, landscaping, or building a retaining wall, driveway or structure)
  • creating plans for work on a house or building
  • the inspection of a finished house or building.

How to apply

To apply to have your dispute heard by QCAT, complete an application form and submit it in person or by mail following the instructions on the form. If possible, you should attach an expert’s report to your application (to support your case). All supportive documents need to be originals, or copies witnessed by a Justice of the Peace, commissioner for declarations, or lawyer.

QCAT application forms:

Once QCAT reviews your application, they will contact you and explain the next steps for your case.

QCAT will also contact the other person in the dispute. They can then fill out a Response and/or counter application form (PDF, 298.0 KB) to submit their side of the story.

How it works

QCAT will come to a final decision about your dispute after hearing all of the details. If QCAT decides that the person who completed the building work did not do a satisfactory job, QCAT’s decision will outline how they need to fix the situation. If they do not comply with QCAT’s decision, you can then take them to court.

See going to court for more information.

Complaints not involving a builder

Contact QCAT if you have a dispute with someone else related to the building of your property, but not a builder, such as:

  • architects
  • surveyors
  • engineers
  • quantity surveyors
  • electricians or electrical contractors
  • suppliers or manufacturers of materials used in the building.

More information

Last updated
28 May 2018
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