I’d love to say that problems won’t happen on your job site, but inevitably there will be issues. As the client, you have a process to follow when a problem arises. Read on to learn how to solve a dispute with your builder.
How To Solve A Dispute With Your Builder
There are so many areas in which disputes can happen with a job, the trick is making sure you choose a builder you can communicate with. Communication, or a lack of effective communication, is responsible for 99% of builder, client disputes. If you’ve taken time to interview your builder at the beginning of the process and ensure that your communication styles are similar, your disputes are less likely to happen, and when they do, should be easy to resolve.
Disputes can range from a selection not being as you thought, or a job not being done, or an invoice sent before a job was finished, a variation blow out or an issue on site. There are many ways in which a dispute can come about.
The first step when such a dispute comes up is to contact your builder immediately. We always recommend to try and contact your builder by phone first, alternatively bring the issue up at your next meeting. Avoid emailing or texting the issue as the first contact. As always, the tone cannot be conveyed in short written formats like an email or text. Instead, make contact personally so the builder can hear the tone in which you are sharing your concern.
The next step is to follow up this raising of the concern with the builder, in email format. Best practice for a builder is to always be emailing you a follow up of all verbal communication to ensure adequate time for miscommunication to be raised. In this case, the responsibility is yours to do the same. An email outlining the conversation, including how the conversation was had, what the issue is, and the agreed next steps.
You should expect your builder to allow you time to provide proof of your concern, for example, a copy of email communication or a copy of your building schedule, alternatively, your builder will need to time reference back to the same and find a solution.
Usually it is as simple as the miscommunication being cleared up, however, there can be times in which that miscommunication cannot yield an appropriate outcome. In these times, you will need to work with your builder to find a solution, and that is going to involve compromise or time. It is in everyone’s best interest to resolve the dispute as swiftly and as amicably as possible.
Clear documentation is vital to resolving disputes as quite often emotions can get in the way of a clear path to resolution. Always revert back to the contract documentation as your first step when looking to clarify any issue/s in question.
If a resolution cannot be reached, then the next step will be to engage a mediator to assist with resolving the issue/s. This should always be done through a third party independent person. Be open-minded when meeting with the third party person and the builder with a view to resolve the issue and re-commence works as the process will be long and drawn out if a resolution cannot be reached at this stage.
If this step does not produce a favourable outcome, then the next step will be to move to arbitration through your state’s regulatory authority. Contact should then be made to them to assist in providing guidance and ultimately an enforced decision either way to resolve the dispute.
It is rare that conflict has to be resolved by a regulatory authority, especially when ensuring that all documentation is understood and consulted along the way.
Have you had a dispute with your builder? How did you handle it?