Last updated 18 March 2022
The Queensland Building and Construction Commission
If work is below standard or incomplete, or if there is a dispute about a contract (such as payments, variations or delays), the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) provides a dispute resolution process. Before gaining access to this process, a consumer must first notify the building contractor in writing of the complaint items and allow 14 days for a response from the building contractor.
If a satisfactory response from the building contractor is not forthcoming, the QBCC dispute resolution process may be activated by way of an online complaint form available on the QBCC website. After a unique case number is allocated, a specialist QBCC Resolution Services officer will seek to facilitate an agreement acceptable to both parties.
If defective work is alleged, reasonable access must be provided to the contractor to inspect and assess the items and the parties should meet on site to determine a plan for the defective work to be remedied. If appropriate repairs are then undertaken the dispute may be resolved.
If there remain defective items, a specialist building inspector will be assigned to the case with a view to resolving the matters in dispute. If resolution is not reached, a site inspection may be undertaken by the QBCC building inspector. The building inspector will decide whether the work is of an acceptable standard and, if necessary, can issue a Direction to Rectify to the builder (and relevant subcontractors) to rectify or complete the work within a reasonable period (usually 35 days). Failure to comply with a Direction to Rectify may lead to a fine or prosecution and may also result in the complaint being the basis for a claim under the Queensland Home Warranty Scheme. If the building inspector considers that the building contractor is not liable for the consumer’s complaint items, the consumer will be notified accordingly and no further action will be taken by the QBCC. Decisions of the QBCC can be reviewed by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).
The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal
The tribunal is intended to deliver justice in a way that is independent, efficient, expert, accessible and flexible. It makes decisions for a number of matters including domestic and commercial building disputes.
If a contractor does not comply with a QBCC Direction to Rectify, the QBCC can initiate disciplinary action against the contractor in QCAT. If a QBCC licensee or a homeowner disagrees with a QBCC decision, they are entitled to take the domestic building dispute to QCAT.
Parties are required to participate in a dispute resolution process with the QBCC (as described above) before making a commercial or domestic building dispute application to QCAT. A letter from the QBCC advising of the outcome of this dispute resolution process must be provided when commencing a QCAT application. Failure to participate in a QBCC dispute resolution process before filing an application for a building dispute may result in the dismissal of the application.
As detailed on the QCAT website, for a dispute to be heard by the tribunal it must be about:
- the erection or construction of a building
- the renovation, alteration, extension, improvement or repair of a building
- the provision of electrical work, water supply, sewerage or drainage, or similar services for a building
- the demolition, removal or relocation of a building
- any site work including the construction of a swimming pool, retaining structures, driveways or landscaping, but only if associated with the erection, construction or renovation of a house or building
- the preparation of plans and specifications, or bills of quantity relating to building work
- the inspection of a completed building
- work prescribed under a Regulation.
Making an application in relation to a domestic building dispute
To make an application in relation to a domestic building dispute, one of the following must be completed and lodged under the QBCC Act:
- Form 26—application domestic building dispute
- alleged defective work/incomplete work schedule
- Form 23—application to review a decision .
Application forms are available on the QCAT website and can be lodged at QCAT or at any Magistrates Court outside the Brisbane CBD or by mail. After an application is made, QCAT will review the information provided and give advice in relation to the next steps to be followed.
A full list of QCAT fees and allowances is available on the QCAT website.
Generally, all parties involved in a QCAT matter must be self-represented. However, a party involved in a disciplinary proceeding is automatically able to be represented. Any other party wishing representation must apply to QCAT. Representation may not be permitted.