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Private building inspectors - building inspectors

February 21, 2019

It is not uncommon for HIA to receive complaints about private building inspectors. These complaints include inspectors causing delays, raising unreasonable complaints about the quality of work, trying to direct trades, or giving inappropriate advice to their clients. While some private building inspectors may cause problems for builders, and indirectly for owners, the reality is that owners are entitled to engage them and these inspectors do not have to be registered or licensed. They are also not always wrong and builders who ignore their reports may sometimes do themselves a disservice.

Sometimes members request help to prepare special conditions to manage difficulties caused by these private building inspectors. HIA Workplace Services cannot draft special conditions for members and it is best to obtain advice from a lawyer before including special conditions. It is noted however by HIA that many special conditions that builders use to manage private building inspectors run the risk of being unfair contract terms as they may cause a significant imbalance in the rights and obligations of the parties and not be reasonably necessary to protect the builder. Some special conditions duplicate or barely change existing general conditions and some special conditions, such as requiring that the private building inspectors comply with work health and safety legislation, may be reasonable though it can be argued that private building inspectors are already subject to this legislation.

The existing general conditions of the HIA contract can help builders manage private building inspectors as they are only agents of the owner and have no rights themselves under the contract or building legislation. Relevant conditions they may assist include:

(a) possession of the site and notice of inspections – as the private building inspectors right to inspect is reliant on the owner and they must give reasonable notice and not interfere with the building work

(b) owners not to direct builder’s workers – as some private inspectors try to direct workers to stop, change or do additional building work

(c) extensions of time – as some private building consultants cause delays by insisting on work stopping until their inspection is complete or their concerns are addressed; and

(d) variations – as changes to the building work must be signed for by the owner and not a private building inspector. Using these contract conditions can help builders to manage the impact of private building inspectors who act unreasonably.

For further information, please call 1300 650 620 to speak to a Workplace Adviser.