Builders Beware!  Powers of the QBCC to require Rectification of Building Work Discussed

The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (“QBCC”) has the power to direct builders to rectify defective building work.  But can they issue two separate directions for rectification to builders for the same building work?  That question was recently explored by the Supreme Court in the matter of TJ King v Qld Building and Construction Commission [2015] QSC 79.

In this case, the builder, TJ King, relocated a building from one area to another on a customer’s land.  The work undertaken by the builder included preparing a building for relocation, relocating the building, digging footings and providing stumps.

The Customer made a complaint in relation to the work performed by the builder to the QBCC.  The QBCC issued to the builder a notice directing the builder to undertake rectification works.  The builder applied to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) for a merits review in relation to the direction from QBCC, but withdrew these proceedings after QCAT advised it was satisfied that the builder had completed all necessary rectification work.

After that, the QBCC issued a further direction to the builder to carry out the same rectification work in relation to the relocation of the building.  The builder argued that the QBCC did not have the power to issue a second direction for rectification.

However, the Supreme Court disagreed with the builder and found that the QBCC did have the power to issue a second direction for rectification, even if the QBCC had previously indicated that it was satisfied with the rectification work carried out by the builder.  Although the relevant legislation does not spell out that multiple directions for rectification can be issued in relation to the same building work and same defect, the Court found that the legislation was wide enough to allow the QBCC to issue multiple directions for rectification.  This allows for the scenario where a direction is issued and all parties think that proper rectification has occurred, but over time issues arise with the building work that make it apparent that it was not properly rectified.

The Court also made a number of other findings that may be relevant to other builders:

  1. The relocation of an existing building does fall under the definition of “building work” in the relevant legislation and therefore can be overseen by the QBCC. Such work consists of the alteration of a building and any related site work, which is provided for in the definition of “building work”.
  1. The QBCC has the power to direct a builder to remedy building work, even if there is no contract in relation to that building work between the builder and the owner of the house, as long as the builder was the one who carried out the defective building work.
  1. The QBCC did not previously have the power to direct a builder to undertake rectification work in respect of damage which was a consequence of defective work. However, new legislation now expressly grants the QBCC this power.

A useful lesson arising from this case for builders is to ensure any rectification work is carried out to a high standard and in a complete manner, to avoid multiple directions for rectification being issued.

If you are a builder and require any advice in relation to rectification notices or other building matters, contact McLaughlins, your Gold Coast Law Firm.