Building Dispute Resolution – Don’t go straight to a Lawyer

Despite all parties starting out with the best intentions conflict is a common issue people face during the building process. Unfortunately when issues arise, emotions kick in and most people go straight to a lawyer. However, there are other alternatives or options available to assist both the consumer and contractor for building dispute resolution.

The building industry licensing authority, Queensland Building Construction Commission (QBCC) offers a free Early Dispute Resolution Service (EDR). After an initial request is made to the QBCC for EDR by one party (either the principle contractor or the home owner only) a Resolution Service Officer will be in contact with both parties by phone to try and resolve the dispute. If defective building working is alleged, a site inspection maybe conducted and a direction to rectify work within 28 days could be issued. Unfortunately though it is often the case that the dispute is a contractual issue and this is considered to be outside the QBCC’s jurisdiction. The next step is generally seeking legal assistance and launching action through the Queensland Civil and Administration Tribunal (QCAT).

There is one more option for disputing parties. That is seeking the assistance of an Independent Building Consultant with experience in dispute resolution. This person or firm should take an impartial / factual approach and be able to set out accurate information that is based on Building Codes, Industry Legislation, Standards and Expectations. It is important the consultant remain impartial and can present material as if it was going to be submitted as evidence to be relied upon in a court jurisdiction, such as QCAT. Unlike lawyers a building consultant is more hands on and able to attend site and gather information to determine the issue/s. The consultant is generally then able to make sense of the differing opinions and report ambiguities between concerns onsite and contract documentation, whilst also considering the Building Codes, Industry Legislation, Standards and Expectations.

The building consultant is not a lawyer and should not give legal advice however should have experience, awareness and an understanding of Australian Standard based Building Contract Documentation. Working drawings, specifications, variations and contract obligations can then be cross checked against what has occurred onsite. Consultants should have a long and wide range of experience in the building industry and hold credentials that qualify them to comment on the issues in dispute.

Qualifications and Experience such as –

  • Trade and Building Licenses which give specific qualification and knowledge in relation to building legislation, standards and codes
  • Building Inspection License which gives ability to identify and report on issues onsite.
  • Training and experience in mediation / negotiation such as life coaching, to facilitate communication, agreements and clearer understandings between the parties
  • Experience in report preparation, to lay out neutral factual information and recommendations based on industry expectations and relevant building legislation, standards and codes and create Heads of Agreement Documentation.
  • Past experience in QCAT, expert witness conclaves and preparing items such as joint reports.

At the end of the day not all disagreements will be resolved out of court. A Building Consultant with experience in dispute resolution can assist parties to avoid such legal implications by presenting factual information base on Building Codes, Industry Legislation, Standards and Expectations. Common ground between parties can be agreed and new understandings created to support the building process to completion.

Expert Building Consultants experienced and skilled in the above are now a valued part of the building industry in assisting all parties involved in disagreements during the building process. Contact an experience industry professional such Twenty20 Building Consultancy who considers all of the above and your future.

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