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Foundations data - protect yourself

August 19, 2019

The increasing pressure to sign contracts as soon as possible in order to secure work is something many within the building and construction industry are experiencing. However, having a contract signed prior to obtaining Foundations Data could end up costing you a whole lot more.

What is foundations data and when is it required?

Foundations data is the information relevant to a building site that a building contractor requires in order to prepare a footing and/or concrete slab design for the building site and also to establish the cost of the foundations component of the works.

Foundations data is required if the works:

  • require the construction or alteration of footings, or a concrete slab for a building
  • may affect the footings of a building or concrete slab already on the site (i.e extension to existing dwelling).

The foundations data should identify and consider:

  • the Building Code of Australia
  • whether a drainage plan is needed
  • whether engineer’s drawings are required
  • whether information on the fall of the land on the site is needed.

Failure to obtain this information prior to entering into a contract carries a maximum penalty of 100 units, which equates to over $13,000.00. there is also the potential four demerit points from the QBCC plus an additional fine and two demerit points applying to the failure to provide foundations data to the client. 

Are there any exceptions? 

Foundations data is not required to be obtained prior to entering into a contract where:

  • a building contractor is not lawfully able to enter the land at the building site to obtain foundations data prior to entering into a contract
  • the contract guarantees that there will be no increase in the contract price because of the foundations data.

This is most common where the building site is located within an ‘off the plan’ development and the developer refuses access to the site. Consideration of the contract price and the risk of engaging in such a job should be made prior to signing the contract in these circumstances.

Further a building contractor is not required to commission the preparation of foundations data to the extent the data already exists and it is reasonable for the building contractor to rely on the data. Your client may provide their own foundations data which can then be used to price the works (however you should always check the accuracy of such documentation). 

Foundations Data was obtained but we have come across something unexpected 

Where a building contractor obtained the relevant foundations data and has hit rock or experienced other difficulties that were unexpected, they may have the ability to pass the additional costs incurred onto the client. This right only arises where the building contractor has obtained the relevant foundations data prior to entering the contract and the need for the additional amount cannot be established from the foundations data obtained. 

Can the costs of obtaining foundations data be charged prior to signing the contract? 

Yes. This could be via having a Preliminary Agreement (such as a HIA Preliminary Agreement) which allows for foundations data and other preliminary tasks to be priced and claimed for before entering a regulated domestic building contract.

As unexpected site conditions can often result in significant additional costs, it is strongly recommended that you take the required steps to ensure you are entitled to payment for such price increases. HIA has a webinar on foundations data available on the HIA website under ‘Publications, Webinars, Recorded Webinars, QLD Members only’

If you require further information, please contact a HIA Workplace Adviser on 1300 650 620 or email us at