- You may engage an independent building consultant to check the construction work
- Always consult your builder or tradesperson about occupational health and safety issues before you enter the site
- Maintain good communication with your builder or tradesperson at all times
You have the legal right to visit the building site during construction.
As building progresses
Make sure you:
- provide the builder or tradesperson with items you agreed to supply, on time. If you fail to do this the builder may be entitled to suspend the work and charge damages for delays
- put the details and costs of any variations to your contract in writing. You and your builder or tradesperson must sign off on these variations before the work commences
- get receipts from your builder for any prime cost items (fixtures and fittings listed in the contract but not costed – view our Building Contracts checklist page)
- don’t make payments in advance. Domestic building insurance gives you limited cover and may not pay claims on work paid for in advance. Make sure the work has passed the building surveyor’s inspection (if required), meets your contract requirements and is complete. Do not withhold a progress payment because of defects without seeking legal advice.
Remember: you can avoid many problems if you maintain good communication with your builder or tradesperson at all times, ask questions and fulfill your obligations.
The building surveyor will inspect work to check it meets the minimum standards of the building regulations. Ask your builder, tradesperson or building surveyor to give you a written copy of each building inspection report.
You may also choose to engage an independent building consultant to check the quality of the work, including work not covered by building regulations (such as painting, standard of finish).
Visiting the site
By law, you have ‘reasonable access’ rights to visit the building site during construction.
You should always consult your builder or tradesperson about occupational health and safety issues before you enter the site.
If you or your agent interferes with the building work being undertaken on the site, you will be responsible for any costs or delays that result, providing the builder or tradesperson notifies you in writing of the cost or delay caused by your actions within five business days.
Changes to the building contract
The law only allows certain changes to the price stated in a signed domestic building contract. Legal changes to the contract price include:
- variations to the plans and specifications (changes agreed by you and your builder or tradesperson after the contract is signed, including any changes ordered by the building surveyor after building work has started)
- prime costs (your selections of fixtures and fittings that are listed items in the contract but not specifically identified and costed)
- provisional sum items for possible additional work (for which the price is not known when the contract is signed).
Variations to the plans and specifications must be in writing and signed by you and the builder. We recommend you do the same for prime cost and provisional sum items.
You should not have to pay when variations are ordered to deal with issues that the builder or tradesperson should have identified before starting work (for example, extra costs to deal with excavation, when the builder could have predicted the problem by reviewing the foundation data).
By law, a Variation Notice must be used to change the contract, except when your builder reasonably believes the changes will not:
- require a change to any project permits
- delay the project
- increase the original contract price more than two per cent.
However, we advise you to use a Variation Notice for all changes to minimise disputes.
If a dispute arises between you and your builder or tradesperson, please follow the steps on our Building disputes, defects and delays page.