Building and Construction Disputes

Building a home is expensive. It can be stressful for the owner and the builder. It’s rare that everything goes to plan and it’s common to see variations – often major but usually minor – to the contract and to the plan as the build progresses.

Before you sign the contract

Before you sign a contract it’s important that you obtain independent legal advice on the Contract. As an owner, there are important aspects of the contract which can make a tremendous difference to your bottom line if things go wrong. Before signing, ask yourself:

  1. What happens if there is a delay?
  2. What happens if the costs are more expensive than anticipated? Who pays?
  3. What if I change my mind and want to include something extra?
  4. What happens if the builder doesn’t install my choice of appliances or extras?
  5. When do I need to pay the builder?

If the answer to all of the above questions it not immediately apparent then you should obtain legal advice from an experienced building and construction lawyer.


The nature of building work means that disputes occur commonly. Often these disputes can be resolved by discussions between the builder and the owner and the involvement of lawyers are unnecessary. If discussions don’t solve the problem then you’ll usually need to contact Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria (usually referred to as the “DBDRV”). DBDRV offers mediation services in an attempt to minimise the cost and delay of building disputes.

What if the DBDRV can’t solve it?

If you’re been to the DBDRV and the dispute still isn’t resolved then you’ll definitely need a lawyer, if you haven’t already got one. The next step in the process is to issue proceedings in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. These proceedings can be complex and technical and depending on the nature of your dispute can be long and costly.

If you’re an owner or a builder locked in a domestic building dispute then you should seek legal advice. The team at DCM Lawyers offer sound advice and smart strategies to help you navigate the dispute and obtain the best result.

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