While you do have the option of speaking to Consumer and Business Services (CBS) over a building dispute, it is always preferable to address the issue with the tradesperson directly first. It helps when you are able to deal with a single person, such as the site foreman or a contact at the building company offices. Construction professionals rely on their reputation and quality of work to stay in business, so the individual or company will ordinarily want to work with you to resolve any conflicts.
Put Your Complaint in Writing
In order that both you and the tradesperson or company has a record of the building dispute details, send the details of your complaint by letter or email. In the case of the former, make sure to retain a copy for your own records. Written communication is also preferable as it allows both parties to work through the dispute point-by-point. You can download a sample letter template from the South Australia government website.
CBS Support & Reporting a Business
The CBS can provide support; however, there are a number of qualifying conditions that must be met. All work must have been carried out in South Australia, and the service provider must advertise or sell services in the state. You must show that you addressed the complaint with the tradesperson or company and the building dispute is not currently being heard in court, otherwise the CBS cannot offer support. You do not need to consult with CBS in order to file a report against a business. Phone 131 882, extension 5. This reporting line is open Monday to Friday between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm (except public holidays).
Before CBS can effectively help you a period of consultation must take place to gather all the information surrounding the dispute. This part of the process is a fact finding mission that will help the CBS determine how to best advise you on the next steps. For instance, expert reports are often needed to establish if a tradesperson is responsible for defects in construction work – regardless of whether they are real or perceived.
You, as the party raising the dispute, are required to act on the advice provided by CBS. You may need to have further written communication with the other parties involved, arrange inspections of the building work and site, consult with outside organizations, organize and pay for any reports from relevant experts. The mediation provided by the CBS is designed to help consumers and tradespersons achieve resolution; however, it is important to understand that agreements are not legally binding and CBS cannot therefore compel the company to comply.
Building Dispute Legal Proceedings
If you fail to achieve a resolution to the dispute through help from CBS, you can take the matter to court in South Australia. Any records from discussions with CBS are admissible in court. The majority of builders and companies will look to avoid a court process that has the potential to damage their reputation, so there is still a chance that you will not have to take that final step.
In the event that you do need to go to court, it is important that you seek representation and ensure that all records and supporting evidence is available. CBS will have provided advice on recommended actions to take at the time of discussion with the other parties. However, you may need to arrange a further building inspection if you haven’t done so already.
For a list of the relevant building inspections offered by Houspect in South Australia, call our offices today.