My house is incomplete and the builder is delaying, what can I do?
If works to your home remain incomplete after the period that the contract stipulates works ought to be complete, then it is likely that the builder is in breach of the contract.
Most contracts will require that a home owner give the builder a notice particularising the breach and provide that the builder has a period of time to then rectify the breach before any other action can be taken including bringing a claim for damages or engaging a third party to complete the works.
The first step is usually, therefore, to serve a Notice of Breach under the contract and provide the builder with the required period of time under the contract to rectify said breach, that is, complete the works.
If, however, the builder has refused to return and complete the work, the referral may constitute an act or repudiation in reliance upon which a home owner may terminate the contract without first issuing a Notice of Breach.
If the builder does not complete the works within the required period of time, then you have the option to terminate the contract and engage a third party to complete the works.
The termination of a contract can be a very complicated issue and many cases have been fought on whether contracts have been properly terminated. If you do not properly terminate a contract, you could end up being sued by the builder for repudiating the contract. We, therefore, strongly recommend, if your builder is delaying completing a build, to contact a Solicitor as soon as possible so that, if termination of the contract is necessary, it is done properly.
Once the contract is terminated, you can then engage a third party to undertake the incomplete works. If you pay the third party more than you would have had to pay the builder to complete the incomplete works, you can bring a claim, either in the NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal (“NCAT“) or the Court, against the builder to recover those reasonable additional costs. You can also claim damages for any costs incurred due to the delay in completion of the works, including storage fees, rental expenses etc, and subject to any limitation clauses in the contract.
If a home owner submits an Application to NCAT before going through the steps of providing the required notice and terminating the contract, this can cause more issues than assistance.
We strongly recommend contacting an experienced Building Lawyer if you have problems with completion of your build.