Home building

Consumer and Commercial Division

NCAT can hear and determine applications lodged by home owners, traders and insurers concerning residential building work up to the value of $500,000 under the Home Building Act 1989.

‘Home building’ refers to any residential building work done by a building contractor or tradesperson, such as the construction of a new home, building of an extension to an existing home, installation of a swimming pool or a renovation of a bathroom or kitchen.

Major changes to the Home Building Act 1989 commenced on 15 January 2015. Visit NSW Fair Trading's website to learn more about the major changes to home building laws.

 

Applications 

Consumers, traders and insurers can apply to NCAT about a home building matter:

Note: Before lodging your application the dispute must first be referred to NSW Fair Trading.  Contact NSW Fair Trading on 13 32 20 for more information.

After lodging your application with NCAT, you can expect a first hearing within 6 weeks for matters concerning claims up to $30,000, or 8 weeks for matters concerning claims over $30,000.

Before lodging your application

All home building disputes must be referred in the first instance to NSW Fair Trading before an application can be accepted by NCAT. 

You can lodge your home building complaint online or call NSW Fair Trading on 13 32 20.  NSW Fair Trading will attempt to negotiate a suitable outcome.  If the issue is defective or incomplete building work, the complaint may be referred to a Fair Trading Building Inspector.

If Fair Trading cannot resolve the dispute, then you can lodge an application to NCAT.  Provide a copy of the letter from NSW Fair Trading and any rectification orders issued with your application form.

Read Procedural Direction - Acceptance of building claims [PDF, 36kB] for the types of building claims that may be lodged with NCAT where there has been no investigation by NSW Fair Trading.

Disputes 

NCAT can hear and determine disputes between consumers, trader and insurers concerning residential building work up to the value of $500,000.  Common disputes include:

  • Home owner's non-payment for building work
  • Building work not carried out as agreed in the contract
  • Defective building work
  • Insurance.

Rectification of defective work

Under the Home Building Act 1989, the Tribunal is to have regard to the principle that rectification of defective work by the responsible party is the preferred outcome (s.48MA). The Tribunal may make an order even if it is not the order that the applicant asked for (s.48O).

Enforcement of orders

NCAT is required to provide NSW Fair Trading with a copy of all orders made against a builder or licensed tradesperson. Learn more about Enforcing home building orders.

Legislation 

NCAT has jurisdiction under the Home Building Act 1989 to determine home building applications up to $500,000. The following time limits apply: 

  • Applications about goods and services must be lodged within 3 years.
  • For contracts from 15 January 2015, applications must be lodged within 6 years for major defects or 2 years otherwise.
  • For contracts from 1 February 2012 to 15 January 2015, applications must be lodged within 6 years for structural defects or 2 years otherwise.
  • For contracts entered into prior to 1 February 2012, applications must be lodged within 7 years for non-major defects.
  • Applications about insurance claims must be lodged within 10 years.

Scott Schedules 

A Scott Schedule is a form which allows parties to itemise defective and incomplete works which are the subject of a home building dispute.  They are generally used in complex home building matters and/or where there are a number of defects.

If a Scott Schedule is required, instructions concerning its use will be given by the Tribunal Member at hearing. 

Scott Schedule forms can be accessed from the Forms page in PDF or RTF editable format.