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If a dispute arises between you and your builder, take the following steps to resolve it.
Note: If you are a builder, please view our Resolving building disputes page.
Step 1: Try to resolve the dispute yourself by discussing the issue with your builder. Keep copies of all relevant documents (for example, contracts, invoices and written communications).
You should also consider:
Step 2: If you cannot resolve the problem by speaking to the builder directly, send them a letter or email, formally outlining the issue and requesting a response.
By putting your concerns in writing, you will have a record of your discussions. This can be shown to a third party if you choose to take your complaint further later on, and demonstrates that you made a reasonable attempt to resolve the problem yourself.
You should use registered mail if you are sending your correspondence by post.
You can use our Example letter for an issue regarding building work (Word, 50.5 KB).
Step 3: If you do not receive a response from your builder within a reasonable timeframe, and are unable to resolve the dispute yourself, you can lodge an online application for dispute resolution through Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria (DBDRV).
Important note: Your dispute may not be eligible if you have directly engaged only one trade (for example, plumbing or painting) and the work is not part of more extensive domestic building work.
Make sure you check your eligibility for DBDRV before starting your application. For more information on eligibility and how to lodge an application, visit Is our service right for you? – DBDRV website.
DBDRV can resolve building disputes without the cost and time often associated with courts and tribunals, and has the power to issue dispute resolution orders to resolve disputes that are not completely resolved by agreement. DBDRV is equally accessible to building owners and builders.
If you need further advice about your options to resolve a building issue, contact the Building Information Line on 1300 55 75 59 between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday (except public holidays). Calling us costs the same as a local call. Additional charges may apply if you are calling from overseas, on a mobile, or payphone.
If your building dispute remains unresolved after going through the DBDRV process, you may be eligible for assistance from the Domestic Building Legal Service (DBLS).
DBLS is a free service run by Justice Connect, an independent not-for-profit legal organisation, with the help of pro bono lawyers. The service is funded by the Victorian Government.
Access to DBLS assistance is limited to home owners who:
DBLS can provide:
For more information about getting help from DBLS, visit the DBLS section on the Justice Connect website.
Home repair and renovation services are covered by consumer guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law. The guarantees set out when you have a right to a repair, refund or other compensation if there is a problem with a service. For more information, view our Problems with a service section.
Whether you are building a new house, adding an extension to your home, or renovating your bathroom or kitchen, you may need assistance to calculate whether the project is delayed.
You will need to know the start date of the building period. By law, a domestic building contract for work valued at more than $10,000 must contain either:
The contract may also state whether you had to supply any information for the project to start (for example, financial approval or ‘evidence of financial capacity’).
The ‘start date’ does not necessarily refer to the date construction begins on your site. For example:
By law, the builder must make a reasonable allowance for delays due to:
The builder must state in your contract how many days have been allowed for each type of delay. This is outlined in section 32 of the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995.
If it is not possible to estimate how long a delay is likely to be, the builder must identify the cause of delay in the contract and state that it is not possible to estimate. This is to make sure everyone involved is clear about what may delay the project.
Delays may be reasonable if:
You should not have to pay extra to deal with problems that the builder should have identified from the foundation data. For more information, view our Foundations page.
If you are concerned about being charged for additional work, discuss the issue with your builder and request a breakdown of costs.
If you do not get a satisfactory response, contact the Building Information Line on 1300 55 75 59 between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday (except public holidays). Calling us costs the same as a local call. Additional charges may apply if you are calling from overseas, on a mobile, or payphone.
Changes to a contract price can include variations to the plans and specifications, prime costs and provisional sums. For more information, view our Changing a major domestic building contract checklist page.
We do not handle disputes between neighbours, including disagreements about boundary fences.
If one neighbour wants to build or replace a fence, they should give the other party a written notice which states the type of fence to be built and its proposed location. You should all meet to discuss the matter.
If you have difficulty reaching an agreement about building a fence, you can contact the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria (DSCV). If you need further assistance, you may need to seek an order from the Magistrates’ Court.
Building fences is governed by the Fences Act 1968, which you can find on the Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website.
We recommend using our self-assessment building tool for your project, to help you understand aspects of the building process, including:
Courtesy of: Consumer Affairs Victoria