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Building and Construction

We are expert building and construction lawyers who provide practical legal advice and representation to:
  • Property owners
  • Builders
  • Contractors and sub-contractors
  • Developers
  • Consultants including architects, building surveyors, project managers, fire engineers, and superintendents

Our practical and detailed experience in the building industry means we appreciate the urgency of tight deadlights.  Once we understand your issues, we will work with you to avoid ongoing legal difficulties and otherwise resolve them.

Contract Termination

Terminating any contract is a serious matter.  It is critical that you understand the terms of the contract and your legal rights during this process.

The right to terminate a building contract at common law arises where a contracting party breaches an essential term, commits a serious breach of a non-essential term or by repudiation evincing an intention to no longer be bound by the terms of the contract.

Terminating without proper grounds has potentially disastrous consequences leaving open the potential for future litigation or a denial of insurance.  We seek to avoid at all cost.  It is therefore critical that you obtain prompt advice and act swiftly.

    1. Consider the contract and the circumstances that constitute the breach (or breaches). You will need to gather together all of the relevant documents relating to the faulty work, including taking photos or video of the problems.
    1. Seek legal advice. We will be able to guide you on the next steps, which could include:
      • Obtaining expert evidence;
      • Issuing a ‘show cause’ or termination notice;
      • Making a claim on insurance; or
      • Commencing legal proceedings.
Security of Payment Act Claims

The Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 2002 (SOP Act) is a powerful tool for building practitioners and those who supply related goods and services in the construction industry.  Cash flow is the lifeblood of the construction industry and the main purpose of the SOP Act is to entitle persons who carry out construction work or supply related goods and services under construction contracts to progress payments.

Time frames in the SOP Act are short and respondents facing payment claims must ensure they respond promptly – otherwise they may find themselves liable for a debt without any opportunity to defend the claim.

We are experts in this space and we can assist you with:

      • Making a payment claim or responding to a claim;
      • Commence proceedings in the County or Magistrates’ Court to enforce the payment claim as a debt and enforcing judgment;
      • Applying for adjudication in circumstances where the respondent has served a payment schedule;
      • Defending a claim in Court proceedings or adjudication;
      • Applying to set aside an adjudication determination.

Be aware the right to make each payment claim lapses if it is not made within the later of 3 months or the period specified in the contract.  Look out for ‘pay when paid’ provisions as these are prohibited by the SOP Act.

We would welcome a time to discuss the SOP Act and its provisions with you.

Building Defects and Home Warranty Insurance Claims

Building defects may come in many shapes, form and sizes (think cracks, water ingress and leaks).  The combustible cladding crisis is just one of the issues where owners are left to foot repair bills.

We have decades of experience in helping property owners whose builders have done work that does not comply with the Building Code of Australia.  We are intimately familiar the VMIA domestic builder’s warranty insurance claims process and we can provide specialist advice on breaches of the Domestic Building Contracts Act which imposes statutory warranties on all domestic construction work performed in Victoria.

There are useful remedies available to get your defects fixed and/or an appropriate amount of compensation (in circumstances where you have paid the repair bill).

We work closely with leading experts in this field who can meet with you at the project site for the purpose of identifying defects and advising on the cost and process for remediation.


Litigation is always the last resort.
We adopt specialist negotiation strategies to minimise costs and avoid the need to commence proceedings unless absolutely necessary.

 

In our experience, it greatly assists getting experts on board early.  This gives you peace of mind when chasing builders for substandard work and simultaneously allows you to get on with remediation while we chase the builder (or insurer) for payment and/compensation.

RECENT CASES
  • Promax Developments Pty Ltd v 167 Lower Heidelberg – Significant defects claim for multiple residential development, including security of payment matter in County Court and security of payment adjudication
  • Contract and defects claim for builder in $12 million development in Heidelberg
  • Acting for subcontractors, including plumbers, carpenters, steel fabricators in debt recovery
  • Acting for architects in dispute resolution processes
  • Acting for local councils in building disputes with contractors
  • SOP Act proceeding to enforce outstanding payment claims as a debt: V & K Engineering Pty Ltd v Total Construction Pty Ltd [2018] VCC
  • Disputes between owner and builder for defective works and VMIA claim
  • Dispute between family operated business and a builder and termination of contract
  • SOP Act proceeding to enforce outstanding payment claims as a debt: Twig & Co v Shang Shang Investment Pty Ltd (County Court)
  • Contractual dispute between a builder and purchaser of the business (VCAT)

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