Burgess Thomson Lawyers

Building Contract Reviews

Property & Conveyancing

Building Contract Reviews Newcastle

Building contracts comprise many parts that can be complicated to comprehend. In these circumstances it is important to have a professional review your contract before you sign it. A building contract often contains a list of provisions relating to subject matter of the contract. These can include clauses on the building to be constructed, its location and cost, the timeframe of the construction, materials to be used and the rights, liabilities, duties, and responsibilities of each party. Building disputes are one of the most common types of civil disputes at small claims tribunals and courts. Having a solicitor read through the terms of the contract allows them to assess and avoid any defects which may risk litigation in the future.

At Burgess Thomson we can help review a building contract from a legal perspective and ensure the provisions contained are reasonable and fair. We are experts at interpreting contractual terms and conditions, as well as negotiating on your behalf to guarantee you receive the best outcome. Within your contract we can review Land and Environment planning matters, commercial building issues and joint venture agreements.

Find out more about how we can help with Building Contract Reviews.

Frequently asked questions

When is a Home Building Contract required?

A home building contract is required for work over $20,000. These contracts are extensive and require specific information including:

  • The relevant warranties and insurance required
  • A progress payment schedule (either fixed or made as costs are incurred)
  • A termination clause
  • A checklist of 14 items that are prescribed in the Home Building Regulation 2014
  • A statement setting out the cooling-off period of five business days
  • A clause about the contractor’s obligation to give an insurance certificate under the Home Building Compensation Scheme if the contract value is over $20,000.
If I enter into a preliminary agreement with the builder, do I have to sign a contract?

A preliminary agreement is a separate contract signed by you and the builder to carry out preliminary work. However, this does not mean you have to sign a building contract. The type of work usually defined and undertaken on the preliminary agreement include things like soil tests, plan preparation, engineering, foundation design and site survey.

Can parties make variations to a building contract?

Yes, most contracts allow the owner and the builder to make requested variations. The contract will set out a process for each party to request a variation, which must be consented by both parties to proceed. Where a party does not agree and disputes a variation, the parties will be referred to the dispute procedure under the contract. However, it is important that the terms written in the contract are agreed to by both parties. Often, a builder or agent will promise the client inclusions verbally but if these inclusions are not written in the contract, they will not be binding on the builder. Having a lawyer review the contract can ensure all terms agreed are in writing and enforceable.

What is an ‘Entire Agreement’ clause?

An ‘Entire Agreement’ clause stipulates that the written contract is the whole contract and no other representation is to be understood to be part of the agreement or used to interpret the contract. This clause aims to provide certainty by excluding any extrinsic material from the agreement. However, sometimes the courts will recognize extrinsic evidence as part of the agreement and ignore the ‘Entire Agreement’ clause. It is important to keep in mind that this is determined on a case-by-case basis.

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