Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Help, my builders are crap and my neighbours are a$$holes!

So you've contracted builders to build your house or extend the house. Everything is going along swimmingly when you sign them up. Suddenly, as they start building, you notice that there hasn't been any mandatory council inspection during the builders progress. You also notice that the builder is flying along with his construction and some of their work is misaligned or simply, crap.

You've got problems and where can you go for help?

1)Consumer, Trader & Tenancy Tribunal - online application fo a dispute can be lodged with application fees ranging from $31-$167 (www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/cttt.html)

2)NSW Office of Fair Trading - www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/building There's helpful information and tips on how to construct contracts, decide on builders and resolving disputes

3)Insurance claim- All building work valued over $12,000 must be covered by home warranty insurance and builders must supply the owner with a certificate of insurance when the contract is signed. If your builder is insolvent you can direct your claim to the insurer specified onth certificate of insurance.

4)Legal action- www.lawsociety.com.au A directory of solicitors with a current practising certificate. This site is maintained by The Law Society of NSW

Vicious and unpleasant neighbours. I had a work colleague with a nasty neighbour. Their relationship deteriorated daily and he would start up his lawn mowing and drilling tools early in the morning every weekend just to drive my colleague insane. So what can you do about unpleasant neighbours?

1)NSW Department of Lands- www.lands.nsw.gov.au/land-management/dividing-fences They administer the Dividing Fences Act 1991. If you give your neighbour a written notice and there's no agreement reached after one month, the Local Land Board can adjudicate

2)Community Justice Centres- www.cjc.nsw.gov.au Available in NSW, they provide free mediation and conflict management services to assist with dispute resolution

3)Local courts- Civil issues valued up to $60,000 can be dealt with by the Chamber Magistrates

4)Local council- Councils can have compulsory notice powers for any disputes covered by the Local Government Act

5)Private legal action- www.lawsociety.com.au for solicitors

There's not really much you can do with annoying or unpleasant neighbours if they aren't breaching any laws. You can't really trade your neighbour too if you don't like them. It's always best to try and maintain a good relationship from the start.

You can however, ensure to some extent that you don't contract a crappy builder by ensuring they have all the relevant licences and registrations. That they have insurance covering their work. Don't pay the entire balance up front but in stages of completion. Check for references. See what work they have done in the past. Doing the legwork before contracting them can prevent a lot of headaches later.

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