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Problems with builder - advice needed
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9 replies to this topic

#1 katpaws

Posted 26 November 2012 - 02:45 PM

Some may be familiar with me asking advice for a friend going through a horror renovation - they are almost a year over the original completion date without explanation or compensation. (the reno is in Vic)

I attended a meeting with them with a company representative and am seeking other's input as I want to advise my friend correctly. I have recommended legal advice etc but posters may have some other ideas or advice to give that i can share with Bob. I won't let her meet these people by themself as they continually bully and intimidate Bob to get them to not speak up.

At the end of a progress meeting with the project manager (PM) my friend (who i will call Bob for this post) was that the meeting was a final inspection and the PM demanded Bob to sign a list of defects. Bob had organised the meeting as there were many outstanding issues dating from March this year and had organised the meeting as progress meeting with the PM. Bob went to sign the list thinking that it was just a list of things to do but then the PM started saying that handover was now completed and Bob had to pay the final bill. A completion certificate  was suddenly produced, although the renovation is not completed and there are lots of incidentals (ie damage to fittings, damaged bathroom fittings etc) and things like electrical work still to be completed, as well as the installation of screens on all the doors/windows (no date given for that, just they will be ready in two weeks, although they were overhead saying that they had not ordered the screens yet). The fit out bill has not been paid as the builder has not organised an up to date bill (for the last three months) and variations on the last invoice were incorrect and the fit out had not been completed. Also a lot of electrical work is sub-standard and builder's sparky cut the wires in the original part of the house so that Bob would have to pay extra to have them fixed. Bob does intend to pay when the outstanding issues are dealt with. The builder implied that they wo't do any of these things as they want to put them on the final inspection defect list.

I told Bob don't sign as Bob was not aware that the meeting was a final inspection. Bob was told that the Certificate of Final Completion had been done (they had not been advised the inspection had taken place) and was "at the office", with an implication they won't give it until Bob has paid the final payment. They also said that unless the final payment is made they will not turn on the electricity, although there is nothing like this specified in the contract, and i have never heard of this. They also expect Bob to pay the final payment even though not all the work has been completed and no date for the final week has been given (ie it is always by next week but some of this has taken 6 months and it still outstanding). They bullied Bob into agreeing to have a final inspection (with threats etc) next week. Bob

Bob has a building inspection report that highlights some big ticket problems with the build, that the final payment will not cover ie replacement of new roof, walls and flooring, plaster etc. The build has been really bad, ie floors and walls not level, even in the new extension. Bob has been advised by legal rep to wait until after the final payment - the 90 day liability period to hand over that report. Bob foresees a VCAT case. Bob doesnt want to pay the final payment as there will still be outstanding issues next week (ie window screens, missing steps, etc) but plans to give a list of the incidentals and outstanding work and pay, advising the company that Bob is not happy with the work and then pay once these are done. Once that is done, put to the builder the very large defect list.

I am not sure if Bob should have a final inspection when there is still major stuff to be done next week but i think as they have given Bob a "completion certficate" even though the place is not completed, work is still continuing, Bob may have to go through with it. I've advised Bob to follow the contract re final inpection etc however the building manager is saying that the process is nothing like that, and the builder has yet to follow the contract when it comes to advising of the final inpection date and process.

Help? Advice?? (sorry it is long, trying to get context in!)

Edited by katpaws, 26 November 2012 - 02:46 PM.

#2 emnut

Posted 26 November 2012 - 02:50 PM

Bob needs to get a solicitor involved before the proposed final inspection rather than gong ahead with it

#3 casime

Posted 26 November 2012 - 02:56 PM

Building Commission of Victoria.  


#4 katpaws

Posted 26 November 2012 - 03:25 PM

Casime, Bob tried the Building Commission - they now have a lounge room covered in levelling cement that is cracking and falling to pieces as a remedy for the builder putting in an unlevel floor, and that they have to cover with carpet to hide the mess (which they can't do at the moment because the cement is coming off). This is what the Building Commission got Bob to agree to (and PAY for) but Bob has little recourse that the "solution" is not working. The Building Commission also told Bob since the bad work was already in place (ie problems with walls, flooring etc) there was nothing that could be done and Bob would have to suck it up.

Emnut, I have told Bob to get onto legal advice asap re this final inspection, as I don't think they should have it if the build is not complete. I will make sure though that Bob gets this done.

Edited by katpaws, 26 November 2012 - 03:28 PM.

#5 Also sprach

Posted 26 November 2012 - 07:23 PM

Bob needs to get a specialised building solicitor/barrister.  It may only be an initial consult and a mere letter from the aforementioned may enact the PM to come to the party.  If possible, try and find a building solicitor/barrister who is particularly litigous.  Sometimes that is all that is needed and it can be a very small outlay in the initial stage.

#6 Fossy

Posted 26 November 2012 - 07:36 PM

A friend of mine had a similar problem, she built with a dodgy company in Vic and was being bullied into signing off on things that were sub standard.  

She got a professional inspector to come through her place and identify all the defects, she had warped walls and uneven floors.  He was able to quote specific building standards which the build did not comply with, things like walls can't have more than 3mm lean etc.  Since her contract talked of meeting building standards (as all builds/renos must) it was effectively void, so was not legally required go pay anything more.  In the end she had all the defects fixed and paid the balance, but it was quite a battle.  She was very happy she had the advice she did.

Google professional building inspections and get some advice from them, a good starting point and probably cheaper than a lawyer.  If you need a lawyer they could probably point you in the right direction.

Good luck!

#7 Gudrun

Posted 26 November 2012 - 11:43 PM

Master Builders Association.


Edited by Gudrun, 26 November 2012 - 11:50 PM.

#8 katpaws

Posted 27 November 2012 - 06:13 AM

Thanks, peeps. Bob does have a lawyer and is getting advice from them. I've been trying to think of all the things Bob needs to ask.

Bob will probably end up at VCAT but unfortunately at his cost, which is a shame, as this builder has certainly stuffed them up big time.

I was so shocked when they turned the meeting into a final inspection at the end of it! The building manager, when i said, whoa, Bob ain't signing anything and you can't just call a final inspection day without actually telling the client, said i had no idea how a building contract worked. Bob's contract clearly states the process for final inspection, which this builder has not done. I am thinking that they did that strategy because they don't want Bob to have a building inspector organised (Bob has already doen this and has the report ready to go). It was really unprofessional how they operated. Sickening.

#9 howdoyoudoit

Posted 27 November 2012 - 11:24 AM

what state is bob in.. we used Newhome inspections when we built and they were outstanding. They picked up everything the builder needed to fix and did a huge report..he was an engineer so could probably point them into where to go as well..sounds like a nightmare!

#10 katpaws

Posted 27 November 2012 - 01:43 PM

The build is in Victoria, Howdoyoudoit...

Update: Bob has found out the the building inspector has rejected the Final Inspection due to - for example - lack of compliance certificates, planning specificatoins not followed through, work not completed in some areas, etc. There is no final inspection certificate. I am pretty pee'd off as they lied to Bob as they said the certificate was at their office. Bob was supposed to get a copy of this yesterday as well as some condition report they reckon Bob signed and compliance certificates for work done.

They are still refusing to turn on the power until Bob pays the final payment, even though it is not in the contract.

Buidling Commision and Consumer Affairs have been contacted by Bob.

Edited by katpaws, 27 November 2012 - 01:44 PM.

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