Building disputes can become as nasty and acrimonious as family law disputes. The “marriage” of the owner and builder usually starts off with a honeymoon period when they sign the building contract. At the start the owners are excited and starry eyed about their new home, extension or renovations and the builder is glad to start a new job. This honeymoon starts to fall apart as the owners lose trust in their builder when what they see happening on the building site does not match their expectations – delays, variations in design or fixtures they say they did not approve, extra costs that come out of left field and the builder demanding the next progress payment when the owners say that the work is incomplete or suffers from defects.
Whitelaw Legal Group specialises in resolving such disputes between owners and builders. Whether our services are retained by both parties as a neutral dispute resolver, or by the builder or by the owner are objective is always the same – to understand both sides of the dispute and to work out the best strategy and protocol to manage and resolve the dispute as quickly and fairly as possible and without running up a big legal bill. Wherever possible we try to repair the broken relationship so that the builder can complete the project in accordance with the terms of the signed building contract.
My husband and I engaged a builder to do a major $250,000 renovation to our home. We borrowed to the max and we cannot afford any major overrun on the lump sum contract price. We are renting whilst the building works are being done. We need the renovations finished on time as we cannot afford to rent for too long. 5 weeks into the build everything seems to be going wrong. We are having constant fights with the builder over delays, defective work, deviation from the design plans, installing fixtures different to what we asked for and a constant stream of unexpected extra costs the builder is asking us to pay. We have put our foot down and refused to pay the last instalment to the builder until he fixes things up to our satisfaction, and he is now threatening to suspend the building works until we pay up. We are under enormous stress! What can we do?
Building disputes can quickly become nasty, acrimonious and costly to both the home owners and the builder. A lot is at stake for both parties. The owners have taken out loans that must be repaid, and are often renting whilst the works are in progress. Their financial resources are limited and a building dispute can put them under immense financial pressure. For the builder, disputes put pressure on cash flow and ability to pay employees and contractors. Builders want to and often need to finish jobs on time to make ends meets.
So a long, emotional and costly building dispute is in neither party's best interest.