Expert Witness reports win cases ! Finalinspect receives many calls from clients who end up in building disputes with their builders because there are multiple building defects and outstanding works. They refuse to hand over the final payment to their builders because their new home, town house or apartment has not been fully or properly completed. That is, there are multiple defects and / or outstanding works that have not been rectified / completed by the builder.
Some of the common defects and outstanding works that Finalinspect observes and reports on in Expert witness Reports are:
- Scratched and dented Colorbond steel sheet roofing.
- Chipped and cracked concrete and terracotta roof tiles.
- Leaking roofs,flashing, gutters and downpipes.
- Cracked and chipped brickwork.
- Stains on the brickwork.
- Stains in the mortar between the bricks.
- Holes in the mortar between the bricks.
- External walls not plumb, straight or square.
- Doors and windows that are poorly aligned to the external walls. For example, there are large gaps between the window and door frames and the abutting brickwork.
- External timber doors are bowed.
- Rubber weather seals between the bottom of aluminium window frames and the brick window sills are twisted, torn or do not extend all the way along the window sill to stop the ingress of rainwater in to wall cavities.
- Aluminium window frames are dented or bent.
- Paint finishes are thin or inconsistent in terms of colour or texture.
- Floor and wall tiles are cracked, chipped or not correctly installed (e.g. steps between abutting floor and wall tiles).
- Very low water pressure from tap fittings and shower roses.
- Chipped, scratched and marked basins, baths, kitchen sinks, laundry troughs, bench tops and kitchen cabinets etc.
- Blocked drains, stormwater pipes and sewerage pipes.
- Cracked concrete driveways and paving.
- Windows and doors that bind or stick.
- Drawers that bind or stick.
- Drumminess in floating timber floors.
- Peaking or rising up in timber floors installed on top of concrete slabs.
- Appliances that do not work properly.
It is important to be aware of the following Acts of Parliament:
THE DOMESTIC BUILDING CONTRACTS AND TRIBUNAL ACT 1995
Section 8 (Implied warranties concerning all domestic building work) of the above Act states:
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;
(b) the builder warrants that all materials to be supplied by the builder for use in the work will be good and suitable for the purpose for which they are used and that, unless otherwise stated in the contract, those materials will be new.
(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 Act;
(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;
(e) the builder warrants that if the work consists of the erection or construction of a home, or is work intended to renovate, alter, extend, improve or repair a home to a stage suitable for occupation, the home will be suitable for occupation at the time the work is completed;
(f) if the contract states the particular purpose for which the work is required, or the result which the building owner wishes the work to achieve, so as to show that the building owner relies on the builder’s skill and judgement, the builder warrants that the work and any material used in carrying out the work will be reasonably fit for that purpose or will be of such nature and quality that they might reasonably be expected to achieve that result.
If you wish to withhold final payment from your builder because of defective and / or incomplete building works, it is essential that an independent inspection of all building works is completed.
After an independent inspection of all building works is completed a detailed expert witness report should be prepared. The expert witness report should:
- List all defects and / or outstanding works.
- State exactly where the defects or outstanding works are located. Date and time stamped digital photographs should be obtained as evidence and referred to in the report.
- State why they are defects and / or incomplete works (e.g. non compliance with the relevant building contract, the Building Code of Australia and / or Australian Standards).
- Clearly set out what remedial works need to be completed to rectify defects and / or complete outstanding building works.
- Also include a Schedule of Estimated Costs to rectify defects and complete outstanding building works if a monetary compensation is being sought.
- Be prepared in the required VCAT format if the case is going to be lodged and heard in VCAT.
- The author of the report must be an experienced Expert Witness.
If you are planning to lodge a claim against your builder in VCAT, it is recommend that you engage a solicitor and or Barrister to prepare your case for VCAT and represent you in the VCAT hearing.
If you would like to arrange for your new home, town house or apartment to be thoroughly inspected and a detailed VCAT compliant report to be prepared which outlines all defects and outstanding works , please contact Mr. Peter Limburg, Director at Finalinspect on 0408 132 152