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Statutory warranties in Victoria

The Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995 (VIC) requires builders to provide warranties on all building work they perform. These are called statutory warranties and they must be included in all residential building contracts.

What are the statutory warranties?

Builders are to provide the following warranties to their clients in relation to the work completed under their residential building contract:

  • the work will be carried out in a proper and workmanlike manner and in accordance with the plans and specifications set out in the contract
  • the materials to be supplied will be good and suitable for the purpose for which they are to be used
  • unless otherwise stated in the contract, the materials supplied will be new
  • the work will be carried out in accordance with all laws and legal requirements
  • the work will be carried out with reasonable care and skill
  • the work will be completed by the date or period specified in the contract
  • the dwelling will be suitable for occupation at the time the work is completed
  • if the contract states a particular purpose for the works or a particular result to be achieved, the builder warrants the work will be reasonably fit for that purpose and will be of a nature and quality as might be expected to achieve that result. 

These statutory warranties apply to all building work, regardless of the cost of the works or whether there is a written contract. 

How long do the statutory warranties last? 

The statutory warranties last for 10 years from the date of practical completion.

If the property is sold, the new owners will receive the benefit of the warranties until the end of the 10-year period. 

What happens if a builder breaches their statutory warranties? 

Your client may commence legal action for a breach of a statutory warranty at any time within the 10 years from practical completion. 

This does not mean it is a 10-year warranty for your work. You will only be responsible for defects that are caused by poor workmanship or negligence. 

Any defects that result from lack of maintenance, wear and tear or damage by the owner are not your responsibility. 

What about the manufacturer’s warranty on materials and supplies? 

Suppliers or manufacturers may provide a warranty on certain products for a limited amount of time promising that if the product fails, they will provide a repair or replacement.

These warranties are separate to the statutory warranties discussed above. The statutory warranties apply whether a manufacturer or supply warranty exists or not. If a defect arises outside of the manufacturer/supplier warranty period, you may still be required to fix it. 

It is always a good idea to choose products that have reasonable warranties as this may assist you where the alleged defect arises during the manufacturer/supplier warranty period. 

What if the client specified the building product?

It is not recommended that the client provide their own products. The client may be looking to cut costs and may provide materials that do not comply with Australian Standards just because it was cheaper. 

If the client does specify the product, the builder may still be responsible if the product is defective. Builders should always work with products and supplies they are familiar with. 

It is important to remember that even if a client or their representative has specified an item, the builder using or installing the product or supply may still be held liable for incorrect installation or interfering with the item.

To find out more, contact HIA's Workplace Services team

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