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Building Defect List – What, When and How

Building Defect List – What, When and How

One of the most common questions I am asked, is what a defect list is for, and when should it be introduced. While there is much confusion, the answer is actually very simple and can be of great benefit to both client and builder alike.

Building Defect List – What, When and How


A defect list is exactly what the name suggests, it is a list of items, made by the client or the builder and client alike, that determine what is required to be finished. It will typically include minor defects items such as painting touch ups, cleaning to attend to, and other minor items that may not yet be completed. It is a very normal part of the building period whether renovating or building a new home.

Building defect lists should be complied and given to the builder, for the builder to rectify. In some cases the builder will need to order their trades to return to rectify, otherwise the builder will organise themselves.

The builder does have the right of reply to a defect list, and there may be times, that what you as a client deem as a defect, is not actually a defect. Negotiation should take place if this is the case, and if you are not happy with the outcome, you always have the governing body in your state to speak to.


Defect lists are generally made once the build, renovation or extension has reached practical completion.

On practical completion a practical completion certificate should be issued by the principal contractor (builder) this will outline these defect items and whether they are agreed on or not by each party.

Lists made before this point are of no value, as the builder will be working to their own list and usually most of those items will be ticked off prior to practical completion.


There are a few different methods to creating a defect list and your builder will discuss with you their preferred method, however the usual options are, paper list, sticker placement and mobile phone apps.

If creating a paper list, I strongly recommend that walk through your list with your builder to ensure that you both have an understanding of what is on the list.

Sticker placement is usually pretty straightforward, but again a walk through could be of benefit.

Finally mobile phone apps generally allow for photos to be attached to the list for clearly communicating the minor defect. Your builder may require some clarification, however the photos will like take of this.

Most minor defects are easily fixed and will be done within a short period of time, for more serious defects, I suggest trying to negotiate with your builder remembering my communication tips found here. Should that process break down the QBCC in Queensland is your first contact point, likewise in other states, your governing body is the first place to start.

Did you know what a defect list was? Have you ever made a defect list?

Nicole xxx




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  1. I’d never heard of a defect list, until now, that is! I love the idea of the stickers and the app – there really is an app for everything these days!

  2. An app with photos sounds like having the least chance of misunderstanding.


    1. Photos are important I think, especially when your build hasn’t been smooth sailing.

  3. I’ve never made one but it sounds quite similar to commercial construction things I’ve worked through ? My brain has gone blank and I can’t remember what they were called though haha. Variations? Revisions? Something like that I had to write replies to *often*.

  4. Ah yes, having built twice I remember the defects list and they were, in both case, pretty minor. A friend in Sydney however, building with a large NSW company has had the ‘mother of all defects’ in a $300K build by having to leave the house for 3 weeks for structural areas to be re-built. She is not pleased when it is a dream house build. Took from the time of occupation – about 18 months in all – to now to get it all righted. Never should be like that but for her it was. Denyse #teamIBOT

  5. I knew! Send me straight to the top of the class. Haha. But then, as a real estate kid, that’s a given.

    Building and selling houses was how I worked my way up to a reasonable sized deposit on our eventual longer term home. I love the building process, even though it somewhat drives me nuts too, it’s always worth it in the end.

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