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Builder complaints: how to avoid them.

One of the many ways to reduce the likelihood of there being a dispute between yourself and your builder is firstly to do your research before any decisions are made and to make sure everything is in writing once you have made a decision, including all correspondence.

How to complain against a builder or trade contractor?

  1. Communicate to your builder or trade contractor in writing, say via email, so there is a written record for the future.
  2. Relate your concern back to the written agreement / contract that you already have with them.
  3. Communicate as soon as you are aware there may be an issue as it will be easier for you and your builder to solve the problem now, rather than three months from now.
  4. Be as factual as possible.

Building complaints by category

According to the NSW Department of Fair Trading, during 2011-12 builder complaints came in six main areas. The largest area of complaint was about the quality of workmanship, taking up 61% of all home building complaints. Next were complaints about materials at 15%, contractual/unfinished work at 11%, design faults at 7%, changed environmental conditions at 5% and legislative or standard changes at 1%.

Clearly, of the different builder complaints lodged to The New South Wales Department of Fair Trading during 2011-12, the majority were about workmanship, meaning people weren’t happy with the quality of the work completed by builders.

Building complaints by type of defect

The largest area of defects reported on in building complaints are to do with an unsatisfactory finish at 29%, external water penetration at 14%, non structural defects at 14%, contract disputes at 12%, faulty fixture and appliance installations at 9%, non completion/delay at 8%, structural defect at 4%, leaking showers at 2%, roofs at 2%, floors at 2% and other taking up the remaining 4%.

Therefore, being able to find and speak to customers who have finished homes or home renovations built by the builder you are looking at using, would be helpful.

Builder complaints compared with plumber complaints & electrician complaints?

In NSW during 2011-12, builder complaints made up 59% of home building complaints, whereas electrical complaints only accounted for 6%, plumbing complaints at 5%, concreting complaints at 4%, pool/spa complaints at 4%, bathroom/kitchen/laundry renovation complaints at 3%, carport/garage/awnings complaints at 3% and the remainder from other industries at 16%.

VIC   NSW   QLD   SA   WA   TAS   ACT   NT


Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria (DBDRV)

Building Disputes

During a building project, a dispute may arise between the builder and home owner(s). If you become involved in such a dispute, you should attempt to resolve the issue directly with the other party before taking any further action.

If the issue remains unresolved after you attempted to resolve it on your own, you can visit the Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria (DBDRV) website to lodge an online application for dispute resolution.

DBDRV provides building disputes resolution without the cost and time often associated with courts and tribunals, and has the power to issue legally binding dispute resolution orders and certificates.

For more information, please visit the DBDRV website or call the Building Information Line on 1300 557 559.

Building Practitioners Board (BPB)


Consumer Affairs Victoria

Address: 113 Exhibition Street, Melbourne, VIC, 3000

Phone: 1300 558 181



Department of Fair Trading

Address: Ground Floor, 2-24 Rawson Place, Sydney, NSW, 2000

Phone: 13 77 88



Queensland Building and Construction Commission

Address: 299 Montague Road, West End, QLD, 4101

Phone: 1300 272 272



Consumer and Business Services South Australia

Address: 91 Grenfell Street, Adelaide, SA, 5000

Phone: 131 882



Department of Commerce Western Australia – Consumer Protection

Address: Forrest Centre, 219 St Georges Terrace, Perth, WA, 6000

Phone: 1300 304 054



Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading

Address: Level 3, 15 Murray Street, Hobart, TAS, 7000

Phone: 1300 6165 3400



ACT Planning and Land Authority

Address: Ground Floor South, Dame Pattie Menzies House, 16 Challis Street, Dickson, ACT, 2602

Phone: 02 6207 1923



Northern Territory Consumer Affairs

Address: 1st Floor, The Met Building, 13 Scaturchio St, Casuarina, NT, 0810

Phone: 08 8999 1999