Contracts

Earlier this week we received a phone call from a member that was concerned that the builder he was contracted too employed a handover company to do the final inspection and defect list.

I’ve had dealing with this crowd before and it almost always turns into a debacle when they get involved. Understandably our member was very concerned when they started inspecting his finished work with a high powered floodlight and standing much close then 1.5m that is the Australian standard.

The answer isn’t quite a simple as “they must follow the Australian standards for Viewing and inspection distances” (Page 10 of the QBCC Standards and Tolerance hand booklet). Although, that is how it should be done.

First, open your contract and look to see if you have signed a contract that specifies that you will complete your works to the “Satisfaction of the builder and or client”.

If you have that on your contract, you have signed a deal with the Devil and made it very difficult on yourself.

The pressure comes on for you to immediately make the client warm and fuzzy by patching work that is not required, the clanger is the painter then back charges to repaint.

Stop! Do not start patching unless the defect is in your opinion  a defect, stand your ground.

If you see that clause in your contract, take a pen and strike it out and insert finished work to meet AS-2589.

YES, HAND WRITE IT IN BE SURE TO INITIAL NEXT TO THE CHANGE.

Don’t even advise the builder or client that you have made a change, its up to them to read the contract themselves after you have handed the signed contract. Ensure you keep a signed copy of that contract.

This clearly gives you a level of finish that has a set of conditions and can be measured. Opposed to the alternative, who the heck knows what is going to satisfy the builder and client. Usually the builder will ask for a level 4 finish, screws you down to the price of a level 3, and then expects a level 5 finish. Then the painter does a poor job because he has had his price screwed down on him, and the plasterer gets fingered for it.

From there, it’s going to be a very costly task to get the final payment from the builder or client. In some cases, it’s more economical to just walk away.

Is it worth $20k in lawyer fees to get $20k back that’s owed to you?

The point is, never sign a contract subjected to the builder and client’s satisfaction, and always have it subjected to something that can be measured such as the Australian Standard. This doesn’t mean you’re not going to have trouble with your builder, what is means is, if you do, you have a far greater chance winning if the dispute if it goes to QBCC or to arbitration.

It’s at this stage you begin to ask yourself why you don’t read and understand your contracts. The game changed a while ago, and we implore you all to get training related to understanding contracts.

If you have found yourself in trouble on site, an independent inspection is just one of the benefits of being a member. Get in touch with our Technical Manager Matt Dennis on 0434 210 528 for some guidance.