How to Get Your Builder to Fix Defects
After we have completed each comprehensive stage inspection on your new home, we send you a PDF copy of our detailed report within a couple of hours. To ensure the best possible outcome for you, we also send you a small list with the report of what you need to do next especially regarding your builder (see below);
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO NEXT;
1. Forward this inspection report to your builder (both site supervisor and office contacts).
2. Request a formal response (in writing) to the items in the report from your builder.
3. If there are any items they will not address, you should ask them for a reason in writing.
4. Request a site meeting with your builder to check that all items are rectified.
5. Inform the builder of the next stage we will inspect, and ask for adequate notice.
The main reason for this “To-Do List”, is to give you the tools needed to help motivate the builder to fix the issues for you, and to give you some further help and advice on what you can do if they are unwilling to address something.
Below is more information about each step, to explain why you should do it, and to look at what the response might be from the builder. It is a long article, but investing just a few minutes to read and understand this process, will ensure that you get the best possible outcome for your new home!
- Forward this inspection report to your builder (both site supervisor and office contacts);
Obviously, the builder needs the report as soon as possible, so they can make a start with rectifying the issues, limiting any time delay for your new home… However, many people forget to send it to the site supervisor, so it may be several days before any works can continue on site, as the office may fail to forward the report for some time, especially if staff are on leave.
Sending the report to your builder office contact is also a good idea, as site supervisors can be on leave too, or may keep the report findings hidden from their management team, in an attempt to avoid a bad reaction from their boss. Sending the report to both will ensure that someone can act quickly to address the issues for you.
- Request a formal response (in writing) to the items in the report from your builder;
Simply sending the report to the builder is not enough… neither is a verbal “no worries… we’ll fix it” from your builder. That is what they think you want to hear, not necessarily what they intend to do. Also, they may have every intention of trying to help get these things sorted for you, but as most builders and supervisors are across many different sites, your issues might fade into the background as other critical issues come up for them.
So, a formal response from the builder becomes a mini agreement of sorts, where they outline in writing that they will address all of the issues. You must ask for this, even if it’s a simple one-line email stating “We’ll fix all of the frame inspection items”, then that is all you need… it’s just a formal confirmation that they have the report, and will fix the items outlined within.
- If there are any items they will not address, you should ask them for a reason in writing;
Occasionally, there will be an item (or several) that the builder either cannot, or will not fix. That is fine, so long as they can provide you with a good reason! This is not a call from the builder/supervisor to say “We won’t fix item 14 and 18, because it’s actually fine… Is that ok?”, or an email to the same effect. It needs to be a formal response, outlining why they don’t need to fix the item, with technical references. In the absence of any technical reference to prove their position, the Building Code or Australian Standards provided in the report will take precedence. This means that they will need to fix the item. This will ensure that the builder either fixes the item (because it’s easier to fix it than to argue with the owner), or has a really good technical reason why it will be fine not to address the issue.
Until you have received a technical response to any item that they won’t fix, outlining why, and providing information to back up their claim, you should request formally that they either fix it, or provide the evidence as to why the Building Codes or Australian Standards are not applicable to their projects. If they refuse, then we recommend that you request to have your concerns escalated to the construction manager or the building manager. If you are unhappy with the response from them and need more information on actions you can take, we would recommend that you speak with the DBDRV – Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria
- Request a site meeting with your builder to check that all items are rectified;
Once the builder has confirmed that all of the items will be rectified, you should request a site meeting to go through each completed item from the report, one by one, to confirm for yourself. You should request it occur at a date/time that the builder states all of the items are completed, and call to confirm a couple of days prior, asking them to confirm 100% that all items are fixed, as you’re not going out there to see most items, you want to see all items fixed… This might seem pointless, as you may have no idea what you are looking for, but that actually doesn’t matter, because the builder has no idea what you know (or don’t know)!
If they have given you the formal response discussed above, outlined that all issues will be fixed, and they tell you that you can meet on Thursday to see everything, and they have confirmed everything is done, then it will very likely all be 100% completed… The builder has no idea if you know what to look for, and it would be very brave of them to attempt to deceive you, as there will be several items in the report that are obvious. This really works well, and puts the builder/supervisor in a situation where items not completed will be very embarrassing for them. If you are really unsure of what to look for, or concerned that they will try to deceive you, then we can arrange a reinspection, where we can go through the previous report and prepare an updated report for $330 (single storey/unit), or $385 (double storey), which includes GST.
- Inform the builder of the next stage we will inspect, and ask for adequate notice;
The builder may tell you that they already know what the next stage is, and when the inspection should occur, but that does not always work out well… The timing for our inspection stages are very well considered, allowing us to see the maximum number of things at each visit, to give you the best possible value for money, and to limit the number of inspections you need for your new home. You should also keep in mind, that the builder may want to limit the number of things we can inspect, to stop us from checking certain areas/trades, or to minimise the number of issues identified in the report.
This is why we outline to you exactly what stage we want to inspect, and provide photos of what it looks like, and a description of what must be done (or not done) at each stage. Although the builder may know what “pre-plaster” is, for example, they often request us to inspect this stage before the electrical, plumbing, heating ducts, and insulation is installed… Imagine how many possible defects are never identified if this occurs with your new home! To prevent this, update your builder of the next inspection stage, providing them with a clear instruction that we want to see “this, this and that”, and keep reminding them as the stage approaches. If you’re not sure when the next stage is, see Our Services page on our website, where we provide more information and photos.
You should keep this in mind as your build progresses, and ensure that you continue to hold your builder responsible for the outcomes of your new home. You are protected as the consumer by your building contract, as well as by building and common laws. You also have the right to expect that your home is constructed in accordance with the NCC’s Building Code of Australia, all relevant Australian Standards, VBA Standards & Tolerances, manufacturer’s instructions, and contract documents, and if you have each stage properly inspected by an experienced and qualified inspector, and follow the advice above, you will be able to ensure that your new home is properly built!
We look forward to helping you get the best possible outcome for your new home!