Building Defects – Who’s responsible?
At times it can be tricky to determine who is responsible when it comes to building and product defects. This is one of the many reasons why building defects is one of the major sources of disputes for builders and contractors. Sometimes a solution requires lengthy and costly litigation.
In some cases defaults in products may only be evident after a period of time. Once a faulty product has been installed in a person’s home it may be difficult to establish who is responsible to cover the costs of the repairs.
A building product may be defective for a number of reasons (e.g. poor quality, incorrect installation, design flaws etc.). Generally, when there is a defect in construction, the builder has the responsibility to remedy the defect at no extra cost to the homeowner. However, this is subject to the statutory defects liability period.
A home builder’s requirement to provide a home that is fit for its purpose is derived from their contract with the owner, statutory warranties and defects liability periods that are imposed by the Australian Consumer Law. Under the contract between the builder and the consumer, the builder is required to carry out and complete their works in a proper workmanlike manner, use new building materials in accordance with specifications and legal requirements. This ultimately means that the work must be carried out in a way that provides a client with a product that is fit for their purpose.
At common law the builder will also have the duty to ensure that the building meets a reasonable and safe standard of construction. Although there is no common law requirement that the builder must inspect component products for defects, the builder will usually be required to attend and incur the costs of rectification prior to being able to seek a recovery of the costs from the supplier.
A builder will be liable if they knowingly or negligently installed a defective product. However, where a defect arises in a component or material used that the builder could not reasonably have been expected to have known or discovered, it is unlikely that the builder will be held liable.
If you require any further information regarding the liability of building defects, please do not hesitate to contact our team of lawyers at The Quinn Group on (02) 9223 9166 or submit an online enquiry form today.