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Standard fact sheet.

Home building dispute resolution 

The NSW home building dispute resolution service commenced in 2003 with the inception of NSW Fair Trading’s Home Building Service.

Where a consumer and trader are unable to resolve their dispute, the Home Building Service will attempt to mediate an outcome suitable to all parties concerned. A formal request for Fair Trading to assist in the dispute resolution may be made by the consumer or the trader but both parties need to agree to the attempt at resolution.

The highly successful early intervention dispute resolution process utilises trade qualified and very experienced building inspectors to resolve home building disputes.

Building inspectors

There are 26 building inspectors located across the State at Penrith, Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Lismore, Coffs Harbour, Wollongong, Wagga Wagga, Queanbeyan and Dubbo.

Inspection process

The inspector will organise to meet the consumer and trader on site and if agreement between the parties is reached, the Inspector will complete a Complaint Inspection Advice which records what has been agreed upon and what each party is to do in order to resolve the identified issues.

Rectification order

If agreement cannot be reached, the inspector will assess the alleged defective or incomplete work. If it is their opinion that the work is the responsibility of the trader, they may issue a Rectification Order directing the trader to undertake rectification work by a due date. It is breach of the Home Building Act 1989 for a trader to fail to comply with a Rectification Order.

NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT)

If agreement cannot be reached and the inspector is not satisfied on the ‘balance of probabilities’ that the alleged defective or incomplete work is the responsibility of the trader, a consumer can lodge an application with the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) to have the complaint heard and determined.

Time limits

The Home Building Act provides statutory warranties for a period of 6 years for structural defects and 2 years for non–structural defects from the date of the completion of home building work. These periods will be extended by 6 months if the homeowner or subsequent purchaser becomes aware of a defect in the last 6 months of these time frames. For the Home Building Service to assist in resolving a dispute, a complaint must be lodged and dealt with by the Dispute Resolution and Inspection Branch within these periods.

Dispute resolution statistics

Fair Trading’s dispute resolution service has delivered the following outcomes:

  • an average of over 70% of building disputes being resolved at the initial mediation or inspection stage
  • this has led to a reduction of approximately 30% in the number of disputes heard by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT)
  • building inspectors assist in approximately 2500 disputes each year, and over 80 of these are resolved by agreement and did not need any enforcement action
  • in 98% of cases, contact is made with the complainant within 2 working days of the building inspector receiving the complaint file, and the on-site inspection takes place, on average, within 22 working days with resolution of the complaint, including rectification work being completed, taking on average 39 days.

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