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Builder wont repair his dodgy work- HELP!

By 74Daizies - 30 January 2012 32

Hi All, I have a problem and don’t know what to do or where to turn now. I have discovered that my house leaks uncontrollably when it rains due to a crap roof design. 

We bought the house in 07 and only discovered that it leaked at the end of 2009 when the drought broke, all over my living room floor. Since then we have tried several methods of fixing the problem and nothing is working.

We have been denied an insurance payout/fix as the reason for leaking is poor build, not the amount of rain.  We have had two rough quotes given to us for between 30 & 50k for redesign of the roof. Obviously we cannot afford this and don’t think that we should have to pay for it anyway. 

It is just shy of 10 years since compliance and we have lodged a complaint with the relevant authority regarding a breach of code, outcome unknown as yet, but they cant force him to fix it even if they find he is in the wrong.

We have been advised to get a lawyer involved but the two I have spoken to so far have requested a $10k retainer and 3-4 hundred per hour.   Again, not money I have lying around…     

So, the builder doesn’t think he should fix it as we have taken 2 years to contact him since the leak first occurred.  I am currently writing him the obligatory letter of demand as per fair trading’s requirements but am at a loss as to who to turn to. The builder is at fault, of that there is not doubt. Does anyone know of a lawyer that might not charge quite so much??

Anyone out there who has been through a similar situation?  We are almost at the point now where the damage to the internal gyprock is dangerous and may fall in the next rain storm.

What’s Your opinion?


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32 Responses to
Builder wont repair his dodgy work- HELP!
1
matt31221 12:55 pm
30 Jan 12
#

Your lawyer wants a 10K retainer with 3-4 hundred an hour? Wow, I’m in the wrong business. NO lawyer is worth that much.

Have you called the free legal aid service through Canberra Connect? Perhaps they can advise on how to represent yourself. It surely can’t be that hard.

And you have been quoted 30 & 50k to fix the roof!!!?? Your builder must of COMPLETELY screwed that up. I got a quote to remove my roof tiles in a three bedroom house and replace the entire roof with color bond. 7k for the lot.

If you don’t mind me asking how did he stuff it? Have you got a fancy trough running down the centre of the roof that wasn’t done right or something like that?

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2
harvyk1 1:31 pm
30 Jan 12
#

How can you prove it was a poor build? Did it state it was so on a building inspection report which you were given (or could have purchase yourself) when you brought the house? Roofs are not infallible, they do need maintenance from time to time, tiles break and move for various reasons (eg wind \ someone walking around on your roof with or with out permission etc…) Which then comes to what maintenance have you yourself done to the house? Do you regularly check the roof for damaged tiles?

I’m certainly sorry for the position you are in, but I don’t see how it is the builders fault considering the house is nearly 10 years old, unless you where provided a 10 year warranty on the work.

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3
RedDogInCan 1:34 pm
30 Jan 12
#

matt31221 said :

And you have been quoted 30 & 50k to fix the roof!!!?? Your builder must of COMPLETELY screwed that up. I got a quote to remove my roof tiles in a three bedroom house and replace the entire roof with color bond. 7k for the lot.

I’d suggest it is something a little more involved than a simple tile replacement. Anything to do with roof design probably involves new trusses which becomes a major job.

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4
GardeningGirl 2:07 pm
30 Jan 12
#

harvyk1 said :

How can you prove it was a poor build? . . . .

I’m certainly sorry for the position you are in, but I don’t see how it is the builders fault considering the house is nearly 10 years old, unless you where provided a 10 year warranty on the work.

I too would like to know exactly what the fault identified is, but I can completely understand a fault not becoming obvious until either a certain amount of use has occurred or something has changed eg the drought breaking.

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5
Duffbowl 2:27 pm
30 Jan 12
#

From ACTPLA (http://www.actpla.act.gov.au/topics/design_build/manage_construction/building_insurance)

Statutory warranties

Statutory warranties are implied by law whether or not they are detailed in the contract between you and your builder. They require construction to be carried out:
– in compliance with the Building Act 2004;
– in a proper manner and in accordance with the approved plans;
– using good and suitable materials;
– with reasonable diligence where no completion date is specified; and
– to ensure it will reasonably meet the requirements expressly made known by the owner.

Your building certifier oversees this during notifications and inspections.

In the ACT, statutory warranties expire:
– for structural work, at the end of six years after the date on which the Certificate of Occupancy was issued; and
– for non-structural work, at the end of two years after the date on which the Certificate of Occupancy was issued.

Good luck with whatever action you take against the builder. If you’re lucky, they won’t close up shop before you take action, and restart with a new name and new principal.

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6
shirty_bear 2:31 pm
30 Jan 12
#

Is it a design flaw or a construction flaw? You seem to bounce between the one allegation and the other. Seems to me they’re very different things. And it seems unlikely to me that the builder was also the designer/architect/??
(feel free to straighten me out otherwise)

If it really is poor design, then the builder may well have got it exactly according to plan. Hard to hold him to account for this.

If it’s shoddy building work, then $30-50K of roof re-design is way over the top. Get a roof-fixer to fix it.
(chasing an incompetent to fix his own incompetence almost never ends happily.)

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7
Athryn 2:40 pm
30 Jan 12
#

Sorry but wouldn’t this been identified in the engineers report from when you bought the house?

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8
Rex Banner 2:45 pm
30 Jan 12
#

We are currently dealing with a very similar situation, although our house is only 6 years old. It’s a very long story (I was going to post a brief version to get advice from other people on whether our experience is normal), but after we weren’t able to get the builder to fix the roof 2 years ago (or even show up to our house when he promised to) we decided to submit a complaint to ACTPLA. It was under warranty still at that time, although this seems to count for nothing. We live in a row of townhouses, and have spoken to the owners of a number of other adjoining premises. They have experienced similar problems with water damage (among other issues) and haven’t had much luck with the builder either.

Dealing with ACTPLA is proving to be an equally frustrating experience, as it has now been over 12 months since we submitted our complaint and very little has been achieved. I’d be interested to know whether ACTPLA is the ‘authority’ that you said can’t force the builder to fix the problem, as this is different advice to what we received.

As part of the complaint we had to get a report from an independent structural engineer, which found the builder had breached the building code by taking a number of shortcuts. ACTPLA has given the builder several opportunities to respond to various findings made against him and to fix the problem during this time, which of course he hasn’t done. Apparently we are a ‘test case’ that hasn’t previously been encountered by ACTPLA, although I find it hard to believe that since this builder was already known to them and had been the subject of other complaints. They never contact me to tell me what’s going on, and I must be on a black list now as they haven’t responded to my emails or phone messages in over a month (and before you ask, I promise I am always polite!).

We’re now trying to find someone to repair the roof ourselves. We wouldn’t have bothered with the process of making a complaint had we known it would take this long or be this frustrating, but since we were told that if the builder didn’t fix the problem that ACTPLA would contract someone to do it and recoup costs from the builder we felt we should see the process through. Hardly seems worth having building warranties and codes if it doesn’t protect the home owner from dodgy practices. We just want the problem fixed, as we now want to sell the place.

I’d be curious to know whether anyone else has made a similar complaint to ACTPLA and what the outcome was? If ACTPLA aren’t doing what they are supposed to, who do you complain to?

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9
Holden Caulfield 2:48 pm
30 Jan 12
#

It could also be that the builder simply followed the instructions of the architect/plans to the letter and it was the theory that is wrong.

Hard to know without knowing more details about the entire process.

When we bought our current house the building report said the roof would need replacing in approx five years or so. Turns out we had to replace it in two years, haha.

IIRC it was $12-15K to re-do the metal roof on our pretty standard-sized 50s inner north 3 bedder.

We tried the insurance angle on the proviso the repair was needed sooner than our report stated, which was sourced in good faith, but no joy. Not surprising I guess.

Sure paying the money sucked, but there was a quiet satisfaction knowing we were water tight.

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10
harvyk1 2:49 pm
30 Jan 12
#

Duffbowl said :

From ACTPLA (http://www.actpla.act.gov.au/topics/design_build/manage_construction/building_insurance)

Statutory warranties

Statutory warranties are implied by law whether or not they are detailed in the contract between you and your builder. They require construction to be carried out:

in compliance with the Building Act 2004;

in a proper manner and in accordance with the approved plans;

using good and suitable materials;

with reasonable diligence where no completion date is specified; and

to ensure it will reasonably meet the requirements expressly made known by the owner.

Your building certifier oversees this during notifications and inspections.

In the ACT, statutory warranties expire:

for structural work, at the end of six years after the date on which the Certificate of Occupancy was issued; and

for non-structural work, at the end of two years after the date on which the Certificate of Occupancy was issued.

Good luck with whatever action you take against the builder. If you’re lucky, they won’t close up shop before you take action, and restart with a new name and new principal.

In compliance with the Building Act 2004? Bit difficult considering the house was built prior to 2004.

Besides assuming the house was built in 2002 (assuming just shy of 10 years means a few months younger than 10 years) means a statutory warranty would have expired in 2008, a year before the fault was found according to what you’ve posted.

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11
umehomes 3:27 pm
30 Jan 12
#

I am confused with the 2 year non structural warranty and 7 years structural warranty. What classified as non-structural and structural? Is a leaking pipe behind toilet wall a structural or non-structural?

Also, ACTPLA seems useless when home owners try to make their builder to rectify something. The most recent experience with ACTPLA of mine was I am looking for a drainage plan for my new constructed home which I believe the builder should sumbit it to ACTPLA and you are eligible to request a copy of this from ACTPLA website. However, when I asked the copy, ACTPLA could not find it and then told me I need to get this from the builder. When I ask them what about if the builder refuse to give this me, ACTPLA responsed that they can not force the builder to do it. When I asked them again isn’t the drainage plan should be part of development plan which ACTPLA should maintain such record and make this avaialbe when home owner want it, they become silence and said nothing they can do.

WTF!!!

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12
harvyk1 3:37 pm
30 Jan 12
#

umehomes said :

I am confused with the 2 year non structural warranty and 7 years structural warranty. What classified as non-structural and structural? Is a leaking pipe behind toilet wall a structural or non-structural?

A structural thing would be things which go into making the house stand, for example the walls \ ceilings and roofs,

Non structural things would be things which are required in a house these days, but if they stop working the house is in no danger of falling over, for example electrical work, plumbing, air conditioning \ heating etc…

So a leaking pipe would be counted as non structural, as the house is unlikely to fall down, as appose to say giant cracks appearing in the wall, that would be counted as a structural problem as there is a risk the house could fall down as a result.

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13
umehomes 4:02 pm
30 Jan 12
#

Thanks harvyk1
So is this mean if I find a leaking pipe behind toilet wall, under 2 years non-structural warranty, I can still call the builder come back to fix it for free of charge?

In theory…right??? (because builder may disappear or not answer their phone call or …)

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14
RedDogInCan 4:12 pm
30 Jan 12
#

Athryn said :

Sorry but wouldn’t this been identified in the engineers report from when you bought the house?

Surely you jest. Pre-purchase building inspections are about as far away as an engineers report as you can get. I recently got one done on my house as part of the sale requirements. After engaging a well established firm to do the inspection, a bloke in a pair of sandals turns up and has a bit of a walk around. He did get his ladder out but only climbed up two steps to quickly glance at the roof. The report contained such gems as the ‘bedrooms have carpet on the floor’. He totally failed to notice that said carpet was threadbare.

Even when the building inspectors are real professionals you can get caught out. On a recent interstate inspection, the inspector took two hours to complete the inspection, had a big torch, a screwdriver for poking, a moisture meter, a thermal camera and even a bag of marbles to check which way the floors drained in the wet areas. I went with him during the inspection and we discovered significant decay in the structural timbers – to the extent that he didn’t consider the house safe to live in. However, in the 13 page report we got, only 1 page discussed the condition of the property and only one sentence alluded that there may be a moderate chance of an undetected structural problem. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes I probably would have gone ahead with the purchase.

Holden Caulfield said :

It could also be that the builder simply followed the instructions of the architect/plans to the letter and it was the theory that is wrong.

It is the builder who is responsible for complying with the building code, irrespective of what bright ideas the architect comes up with.

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15
Holden Caulfield 4:26 pm
30 Jan 12
#

RedDogInCan said :

Holden Caulfield said :

It could also be that the builder simply followed the instructions of the architect/plans to the letter and it was the theory that is wrong.

It is the builder who is responsible for complying with the building code, irrespective of what bright ideas the architect comes up with.

You’re not suggesting the building code is infallible, I hope? 😛

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