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A builder can claim for an extension of time by giving written notice to an owner. An extension of time notice should include the following information:
Extension of time forms are available to purchase from the HIA bookshop or your local stationary supplier. The forms are called ‘Notification of extension of time’.
This notice can be given either by:
The relevant clauses in the HIA Contracts for claiming an extension of time are as follows:
An owner has seven days (within receiving the builder’s notice) to dispute an extension of time. An owner must give the builder written notice, including detailed reasons why the owner disputes the claim. The onus is placed on an owner to dispute the extension of time being sought.
If an owner fails to respond within the relevant form and timeframe then the builder can try and argue that an objections raised after the deadline are not valid.
It is prudent to communicate an extension of time in accordance with the terms of the contract as soon as being aware of a possible delay.
All documents and records of telephone conversations should be kept in the event the matter is referred to the Tribunal at some later stage.
A variation to the scope of works (i.e. plans and/or specifications) can take place either at the request of the owner or builder. Once a request for a variation has been made the builder needs to follow up with a written variation notice. All variation requests must be signed and dated by an owner and builder prior to the works being undertaken.
If an owner refuses to sign a variation then the builder is not obliged to carry out the variation works and can refuse to do so.
A variation notice should include the following information:
Variation forms are available to purchase from the HIA bookshop or your local stationary supplier. The forms are called ‘Variation document‘.
The relevant clauses in the HIA Contracts for claiming a variation are as follows:
The other area in which disputes often arise is where a builder fails to obtain signed variations before doing the work. The only times builders may do extra works without the owner signing the variation are in the following circumstances:
Where a builder has failed to obtain a signed variation a builder is still able to recover payment if there are exceptional circumstances or the builder would suffer significant or exceptional hardship and it would not be unfair to the building owner. To seek to enforce unsigned variations you must make a claim at VCAT.
Builders should naturally avoid being in such a situation and would need a valid excuse why the paperwork was not done at the time and have irrefutable evidence that the owner knew of the exact work to be done and agreed to payment of the approximate amount payable for this work.
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