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In the realm of construction law, our team is your expert guide through every legal challenge. With a deep understanding of construction-related legalities, we provide solutions, ensuring your projects are not just compliant, but also positioned for success. Trust us to construct a legal framework that supports and protects your endeavours in the construction industry.

Melissa Care

Melissa Care
Senior Associate

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Navigating Building Contracts and Construction Disputes

The building and construction industry is dominated by building contracts, scope of works, reports, drawings and agreements. Both domestically and commercially, building and construction disputes are common and range from poor workmanship claims, non-payment of services provided, increased contract charges and at times, a complete abandonment of the works. The building and construction industry is highly legislated and regulated and navigating the law that governs the industry as a contractor, subcontractor, developer, owner-builder or customer can be a difficult task.

Disputes often arise between the following parties

  • Contractors against principals/developers
  • Contractors against owner-builders
  • Subcontractors against contractors
  • Suppliers against clients
  • Plant and equipment hirers against clients
  • Consultants against clients
  • Clients/customers against builders

When a dispute arises, we recommend engaging a qualified and experienced legal team as early as possible. An early engagement can result in an earlier resolution, which in turn can result in saved costs and time. Coutts’ dispute resolution team has extensive experience in advising and representing clients on both sides of building and construction transactions. As touched on above, navigating the highly regulated and legislated building and construction industry can be a daunting and difficult task.

Coutts has the expertise to help Homeowners, Builders, Suppliers and Subcontractors when it comes to building and construction. Our role is to ensure that there is compliance with contractual obligations and statutory warranty protections.

For Homeowners, Our Team Can Provide Assistance With

  • Pre-Contract Support – Reviewing building contracts before you commit.
  • Contract Compliance – Ensuring adherence to building contract terms and conditions.
  • Quality Assurance – Engaging with experts to maintain building standards and tolerances.
  • Managing Delays – Handling and resolving delay claims effectively.
  • Progress Payment Disputes – Assisting homeowners with disputes related to progress claims.
  • Contract Termination – Advising on claims related to the repudiation of contracts.
  • Dispute Resolution – Guiding homeowners through the building contract dispute resolution process.
  • Legal Representation – Representing homeowners in Courts and Tribunals when needed.

For Builders, Our Team Offers Comprehensive Support, Including

  • Contract Drafting – Creating clear and comprehensive building contracts.
  • Special Terms and Conditions – Drafting specialised contract terms as needed.
  • Delay Claim Advice – Providing guidance on valid delay claims.
  • Progress Payment Disputes – Assisting builders from initial claims to adjudication under the Security of Payment Act.
  • Contract Termination – Advising builders on claims related to contract repudiation.
  • Dispute Resolution – Supporting builders through the building contract dispute resolution process.
  • Legal Representation – Representing builders in Courts and Tribunals when resolution is not reached.

Step 1: Initial Contact

Reach out to Coutts Lawyers via our website, phone, or in person. Briefly describe your matter.

Step 2: Consultation Appointment

Schedule and attend a meeting with a Coutts lawyer / Conveyancer to discuss the specifics of your matter and desired outcomes.

Step 3: Information & Legal Advice

Share all related documents and information. Your lawyer / Conveyancer will review everything, clarify aspects as needed, and then advise on the best action course.

Step 4: Action Plan Development

Based on the advice, an appropriate action plan will be formulated. This may involve communication, documentation processes, or further legal steps.

Step 5: Implementation

Execute the action plan, addressing a range of legal scenarios as necessary.

Step 6: Resolution & Closure

Navigate towards a resolution, with the path determined by the nature of the matter. Your Lawyer / Conveyancer will outline any final actions or considerations.

Book Your Litigation & Dispute Consultation Now

Introducing Melissa

Your Experienced Lawyer

Meet Melissa, a Senior Associate at Coutts Lawyers & Conveyancers, and the head of our esteemed Commercial Litigation teams. With more than a decade under her belt, Melissa is renowned for her clarity in communication, ensuring clients comprehend every aspect. Her confident and efficient problem-solving approach, coupled with cost-effectiveness, marks her as a top authority in Commercial Litigation.

Melissa Care
Melissa Care

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Litigation & Disputes FAQ’s

A general contractor is responsible for overseeing and coordinating all aspects of a construction project. Choosing the right one involves considering their experience, reputation, qualifications, and ensuring they are licensed and insured. Requesting references and obtaining multiple quotes is also advisable.

The specific permits and approvals required depend on the nature and location of your project. To obtain them, you typically need to submit an application to the local building department. It’s essential to research the local regulations and work closely with local authorities to ensure compliance.

Making a decision to build a new home or renovate an existing home can be an exciting but daunting time for many. It is essential that prior to entering into a Building Contract a Homeowner takes steps to ensure that all matters are in check before signing any formal agreement. The five steps are as follows:

  1. Check the credentials of the builder you are looking to hire
  2. Make sure that there is a written building contract in place
  3. Make sure that home building compensation fund insurance is obtained and a certificate is provided
  4. Reference check and verify
  5. Have your documents in order to minimise the risk of hidden or increased costs

A construction contract outlines the terms, conditions, scope of work, payment terms, timelines, and responsibilities for all parties involved. Having a well-drafted contract is crucial for defining expectations, avoiding disputes, and protecting the interests of all parties.

Once a building company is in external administration or wound up; or once a builder is insolvent and bankrupt, they are no longer able to carry out the balance of the building contracts they still have on foot. This gives rise to a breach of the contract by the Builder/Building Company and makes them liable to a Homeowner for their repudiatory conduct. In the event a Builder/Building Company cannot rectify the defaults then it is likely that the building contract will be terminated.

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