• Commercial Law

    Commercial Law

    We are business people as much as we are lawyers. We will take care of the legal documents so you can confidently run your business.
    As your business grows, its risk profile and governance challenges will change. We partner with our clients over the long term to ensure they are in the driver’s seat for success.

  • Dispute Resolution

    Dispute Resolution

    We are in your corner when the going gets tough. Having resolved over 6,500 disputes for business owners have seen it all before.

    Whether you need a skilled negotiator or a fearless litigator, we specialise in delivering commercial results when:

    Customers refuse to pay;
    Suppliers let you down; and
    Business Partners do the wrong thing.

  • Employment & Safety

    Employment & Safety

    The biggest challenge for any business owner, is managing their employees.

    A difficult employee can make you question why you got into business in the first place and be toxic to your team morale.

    We deliver proactive solutions to manage your team via employment contracts, policies and procedures as well as handling employment disputes when they arise.

  • Property & Construction

    Property & Construction

    Property is the key most wealth in Australia.  Whether you are buying, selling, leasing or developing property, you need a lawyer you can count on.

    We can advise on the whole property development process from obtaining finance to development approvals, construction and sale or leasing.

    We also act for the Master Builders Victoria and have extensive expertise in construction contracts and disputes.

  • Family Law

    Family Law

    At Taurus Legal Management we understand the unique challenges clients encounter during family disputes, especially when children are involved. Our family lawyers specialise in handling high-asset cases with a focus on protecting clients wealth, securing their family’s future, and safeguarding the best interests of their children.


How To Get Your Defective Home Fixed

It’s no secret that there have been delays and price increases for building materials. You would think that these factors would lead to better workmanship and ultimately a better home. However, we’re finding building disputes and, in particular, issues around defects, are becoming more common.

If you have found defects in your home and aren’t sure how to get them fixed, follow our tips below.

What are Defects?

The first step is to identify the defects in your home.  A lot of defects are visible to the naked eye. These defects can include:

  1. Unfinished work: for example, a ceiling which is half painted (and before you ask – yes, we have come across this!);
  2. Work which does not match the plans of the home: for example, a window being in the wrong room or on the wrong wall;
  3. Unsafe work: for example, a staircase balustrade not being secured;
  4. Work which is substandard or does not meet the building codes or standards.

You could also have a breach of contract claim which covers situations where the installations in the home do not match the specifications in your contract.

Negotiate Directly

This is the quickest and most cost-effective option.

Once you have identified the defects, you should contact the builder asking them to come back and repair the defects. It’s best to contact the builder via email or letter and provide photographs of the defects. This creates a trail of evidence which you can use later, if you need to go to VCAT or Court.

The more obvious the defects are in your photographs, the more likely the builder will be to come out to your property. So, make sure when taking the photos that you have good lighting and a ruler next to the defects. You should also provide a brief description next to each photograph.

Formal Settlement Process

If the builder refuses or you aren’t happy with the repairs, you can make a complaint to the Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria (DBDRV).

The DBDRV is a free service that helps to resolve domestic building disputes. During this process, the DBDRV will hold a conciliation. This is a settlement conference where the homeowner and builder are encouraged to reach an agreement on how to resolve the defects. That could be, requiring the builder to come back and fix some of the defects or the builder paying a sum of money.

At the DBDRV, it is important to:

  • Make sure any settlement is documented in writing;
  • Have the settlement signed by yourself and the builder. This will help you to enforce the settlement if the builder doesn’t follow through with what they have promised;
  • Get a certificate from the DBDRV that you have completed the conciliation. In some circumstances, the DBDRV can issue a certificate that a conciliation was not appropriate.

Attending the DBDRV is a step that you must take before going to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) or a Court.

Issuing a Claim

If negotiations fail, the next step in the process is to issue a claim in VCAT or a Court.

Most building defect disputes must be heard by VCAT. One of the benefits of being in VCAT is that a whole section of the tribunal is dedicated to hearing building disputes.

In most cases, homeowners will have 10 years from the date of the occupancy permit or final certificate, to bring their claim. Where no occupancy permit or final certificate was needed, you will have 6 years to bring a claim. This is because the claim will be based on a breach of contract, as opposed to the building legislation.

Whilst it seems like quite a long time, it is important to act as quickly as possible. This is because unrepaired defects can cause more damage to other aspects of the home. The most common example we see, is a water leak which spreads over plaster and ruins the integrity of the plaster and paint over time.

Should I get an Expert?

The hardest defects for you to identify are those which don’t meet the building codes or standards. For this reason, it is beneficial to engage an independent expert (such as a third party builder or engineer) who can conduct an inspection and prepare a report. Quite often, the report will identify many more defects.

It is worth getting some advice about when and how to brief an expert, before doing so. If the expert is not briefed correctly, you will have to incur the costs of a second expert preparing a report which meets the requirements of VCAT. You should expect to incur between $3,000 to $8,000 for an expert report.

We are the dispute resolution specialists.  We are regularly in VCAT in relation to building disputes.  So if you require more information or wish to discuss a particular concern, please do not hesitate to contact one of our dispute resolution specialists at Taurus Legal Management on (03) 9481 2000 or email us at info@tauruslawyers.com.au.  You can also download our Dispute Resolution Guide here.

Posted by Taurus Legal Management