What to do when you have a problem with a builder or contractor.
Unlock all of Consumer from just $7 for 7 days
While many houses get built without any major glitches, in some cases it can become a stressful experience laden with problems. There are a few key reasons for things going wrong. These are:
Listed below are more specific examples of these.
Make sure you don't cause problems for your builder by:
In recent times builders and other trades have been in enormous demand, as building work has increased around the country.
This could cause potential problems on your project. People we have talked to have reported huge delays in waiting for builders and other contractors to arrive, only to have them disappear for weeks at a time in the middle of the job. The failure of one trade to turn up on time leads to a domino effect. Re-scheduling everyone is difficult because there are so many people affected.
Other events that can delay work are:
The shortage of tradespeople could be one of the reasons people are reporting increasing amounts of shoddy workmanship.
Arguably, the quality of workmanship is being compromised because contractors are rushing work in order to get to the next job. While it is normal for builders and subcontractors to be involved on more than one job at the same time, if they are overcommitted they risk compromising quality in the rush to get things done quickly.
The problem seems to be made worse by a lack of qualified tradespeople, meaning builders are having to hire less skilled staff.
If you think the workmanship on your job is substandard, you could hire a building consultant to do an independent check.
If your builder’s operation fails, you may be left with an unfinished house, or a house with lots of unresolved defects.
Unpaid subcontractors may take back materials they have supplied. In this case you may have legal remedies. Talk to a lawyer.
Tip: Make sure it is not in your contract that you pay for work in advance. This will protect you if the builder does not complete the job. (Except for any deposit you’ve agreed in the contract.)
Plans and specifications may be incomplete or ambiguous, either due to incompetence on the part of the person who did the plans or because not enough time and money was spent on them. This can lead to these problems:
When a standard contract is modified, sometimes the owner or the builders and subcontractors don’t have time, or don’t take the time, to get legal advice on the meaning of changes to standard conditions. This is going into a contract blindly. It can result in misunderstandings and when things start to go wrong, the parties to the contract might not be protected.
No one likes confrontation. When disputes arise, people are often reluctant to invoke the dispute resolution provisions in the contract, for fear of upsetting the other person and making the situation worse. But if the situation is left, it is likely to deteriorate.
Be aware of these potential problems with costs:
Variations should be dealt with in writing and within specific time frames. Problems arise when the builder or subcontractors don’t keep with the timeframes and don’t follow the rules in the contract about pricing variations. Or if they go ahead and make variations without your approval. You can end up with something you don’t want and unexpected costs.
Builders and contractors who have been in the business for a long time sometimes fail to read the specification documents properly and just do what they usually do. This can lead to mistakes and substandard work, and costly rectification work. It can be difficult to get the contractor back to do the rectification work and there are often arguments about who should be paying.
What can you do if you have a dispute with your builder or contractors? What happens if you are dissatisfied with the job being done? We look at your options.
When you have a dispute with the builder, the steps for getting it sorted are:
Note: You can take a complaint about the standard of work of a licensed building practitioner to the Building Practitioners Board. If the complaint is upheld the licensed building practitioner can be disciplined.
The Consumer Advice Line is available to all our members for support on any consumer-related issue. Our expert advisers can explain your rights and help you resolve problems with a retailer. Become a member now from just $12 and let us help you get a resolution.
Whether you're planning to build your own home or renovate an existing one, we've got you covered with a wide range of articles covering the whole process.
Renovating and altering houses is a favourite pastime for many New Zealanders. Our articles take a look at what's involved when you undertake a renovation project.
Regular maintenance is needed to ensure your house holds its value and remains safe and comfortable to live in.
Unlock all of Consumer from just $7 for 7 days or become a member from just $12 p/m