23 May 2011

Building contracts – good for both sides

Posted by bcsands

A recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald warned consumers to be sure that they know what their building contract includes.

From the industry side, many house builders can tell tales of consumers who assumed that their new house would come complete with driveway, fencing and landscaping, when in fact their contract included only the construction of the house itself. The arguments that can follow are unpleasant for all involved – even for those who are in the right!

How can we, as builders, make life easier for consumers – and avoid the stress of misunderstandings? Well, one way to do it is to let them know what exclusions are up front. Explain to them, preferably in writing, what is and is not included, rather than depending on them to go through the contract with a fine tooth comb. Explain in simple terms, referring your customer to the greater detail in the contract as necessary.

Many consumers are more savvy nowadays and do check their contract in great detail. However, even the savviest consumer can be caught out, simply because they don’t always understand the terminology used in the building trade, or they don’t have the knowledge to understand exactly how materials and services are specified. Give your customers as much guidance as possible so that they understand what they are or are not getting.

A little bit of effort up front, or at the right moment when the job is underway, could save a lot of pain afterwards!

The Master Builders Association of New South Wales sells a range of contracts and other relevant documents. They also offer courses for builders covering the legal aspects of contracts and contract administration. More information can be found on their web site. http://www.mbansw.asn.au/default.asp?id=63

The original article is here.


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