Home building claims under $30,000

The following information sets out NCAT's procedures for dealing with home building matters involving amounts under $30,000.

Step 1: Contact NSW Fair Trading

You must first take part in the NSW Fair Trading's dispute resolution process.  This process may involve referral to a building inspector or direct referral to NCAT. 

Learn more about resolving building disputes with NSW Fair Trading.

Exempt disputes

Some disputes are exempt from the dispute resolution process with Fair Trading.  These include:

  • Appeals relating to insurance.
  • Debt recovery by a contractor or trader.
  • Cross claims.
  • Matters involving unlicensed builders.​
  • Claims about owner builders about defective work.
  • Claims by a trader against a contractor about defective work.
  • Claims where the time for lodging a claim is due to expire.

Rectification order

If a building inspector is involved a rectification order may be issued.  If the order is not complied with by the given date the home owner may lodge the dispute with NCAT.  A copy of the rectification order should be lodged with the application.

Step 2: Apply to NCAT

When applying to NCAT you must clearly explain what orders you want from NCAT and the reasons why.  

You must provide the full details for the other party.  This means you must provide full names and addresses.

Make sure you have enough information to support your case.  This means you should have obtained any necessary quotes and other relevant documents which may be helpful in presenting your case, for example, a copy of the contract, quotes for repairs and photos.

Cross applications

If the other party wishes to seek an order against you they must lodge a separate application, called a ‘cross application’.

Cross applications should be lodged no later than the first hearing date.  Generally, all applications and cross applications about a matter will be heard and determined together.

Withdrawal of application

If you resolve your dispute before the hearing you can withdraw your application at any time by sending a notice in writing to NCAT.  Learn more about Withdrawing an application.

Step 3: Dispute resolution process

At the first hearing a number of cases will be listed at the same time.  NCAT is required to encourage parties to reach an agreement through conciliation before the hearing can take place.

Conciliation

Conciliation is a confidential, private process.  It gives both parties an opportunity to talk to each other and to see if they can agree to work out their dispute.  Tribunal Members will assist parties to reach agreement by conciliation wherever possible.

If parties reach an agreement NCAT, as far as possible, will make binding orders confirming that agreement.  If you and the other party cannot agree, your case will generally be heard on the day. Sometimes a matter may be adjourned to be heard on a later date.

Learn more about Conciliation.

What should I bring to the hearing?

When attending the hearing you must be ready to argue your case.  You should bring 3 copies of all relevant documents, for example:

  • The contract for residential or building work
  • All correspondence between parties
  • Any demands or claims for fees
  • Reports from experts
  • Any quotes
  • The certificate of insurance
  • Any photographs
  • Any report or rectification order made by an inspector.

Independent experts

If your case involves home building, the Tribunal Member at the hearing may order an independent expert to assess the building work and prepare a report for NCAT and the parties.  Experts possess home building related expertise such as construction, plumbing, electrical, structural engineering and concreting.

The experts' costs will be met equally by you and the other party.

Where NCAT appoints an expert you will not be able to call your own expert witness or tender any other expert report except with the leave of NCAT.

Learn more about engaging an expert.

Directions

When adjourning a matter NCAT may make procedural directions and set a timetable for when they must be completed, for example, directions as to the exchange of documents.

Parties must comply with the directions and timetables set and they cannot be altered except by leave of NCAT.  If you cannot comply with the directions you should contact NCAT.

Failure to attend hearings

If a party fails to attend a hearing NCAT may deal with the matter in the absence of the party, including dismissal of the case or an order as to costs.

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