By: Luka Dickson

Construction projects can be complicated tasks with many moving parts and variables, especially larger-scale builds. When facing challenges like project delays, subpar workmanship, or financial discrepancies, individuals and businesses involved in construction may need to file a construction claim. These processes are lodged with the respective state building authority where the development has taken place. For example, in Victoria, you would lodge with the Victorian Building Authority, or in New South Wales, it would be lodged with the NSW Building Commissioner.

Role of the State Building Authority

The state building authority plays a pivotal role in overseeing construction-related matters. From regulating building codes to assisting in dispute resolution, these authorities act as mediators between parties involved in construction projects. Given the amount of money and leverage used within the construction industry, the respective state building authority not only aims to resolve disputes but additionally provide justice and protect clients against bad actors who are purposefully completing work of poor quality or are not financially honest.

Understanding a Construction Claim

Construction claims encompass a range of issues from project delays to disputes over payment or defective work. These claims are designed to resolve disputes between two parties involved in the construction project and ensure that the construction process adheres to agreed-upon standards. Payment claims can be processed when a party involved in the construction process owes money to another party after work has been completed. These must be served within three months of the reference date – and can include progress payments, final payments or single one-off payments to tradespeople who attend the site.

Before Lodging a Construction Claim

Not everyone is eligible to file a construction claim with the state building authority. If the project was an interstate partnership, it is important to establish which State Building Authority is the correct organisation to lodge the claim with. Individuals and businesses can establish their eligibility to make a claim usually on the respective authority’s website.

Before lodging the claim it is always recommended to contact the relevant parties to try and resolve or clarify the dispute before getting the Building Authority involved. The state building authority will usually require you to detail any contact or attempts to contact the relevant party within your submission, for evidence within the claim.

Documentation and Evidence

Thorough documentation is the backbone of any construction claim. From project contracts and invoices to photographs and correspondence, comprehensive evidence strengthens the validity of the claim. Ensuring that all relevant documents are in order enhances the chances of a favourable resolution.

State Building Authority’s Review Process

Once a construction claim is submitted, the state building authority conducts a detailed review. This involves a careful examination of the provided evidence and a consideration of the circumstances surrounding the dispute. Understanding the timelines and expectations during this review process is crucial for those involved.

The building authority will review the circumstances of the dispute, alongside any prior patterns of behaviour from the parties involved, such as a history of shoddy workmanship, complaints, or extortion of funds. From here they will establish if further action is required, if mediation sessions need to occur, or if there is no further action needed. Keep in mind that the claim may fall out of the jurisdiction of the building authority and may need to be referred to another agency or department. Therefore, it is important to establish your eligibility criteria before making a complaint.

Construction claim complaint flowchart

Flowchart of the process from the Victorian Building Authority

Mediation and Dispute Resolution

Mediation often plays a central role in resolving construction claims. The state building authority may facilitate mediation sessions, bringing the involved parties to the table for constructive discussions. Mediation aims to find mutually agreeable solutions, avoiding the need for lengthy and costly legal battles.

Legal Recourse and Appeals

In some cases, construction disputes may escalate, requiring legal recourse at a court or tribunal. In these circumstances, the parties involved in the mediation process may choose to hire an expert witness to provide independent evidence. Additionally, comprehending the appeals process for construction claims provides clarity on potential avenues for those dissatisfied with the initial resolution.

Avoiding a Construction Claim

Construction Claims can hopefully be avoided by hiring a registered quantity surveyor to complete cost-estimating services before and throughout the construction and development process. As industry experts, their cost estimating services can help establish accurate costings for the job and avoid overcharging for materials, so that cost disputes can hopefully be avoided.

Construction Estimating Services in Australia

At Accent Estimating, our team of expert, registered quantity surveyors pride ourselves on providing reliable and detailed construction estimating services. Our experienced team assures accurate information and support to all builders and contractors. We believe all parties involved deserve a fair deal, and a fast, streamlined development process.  

If you would like to find out more about our estimating services available in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane, call us on 0413 953 869 or fill out the contact form on our website.