Understanding Your Building Contract:

It is essential to understand the terms of your building contract before you sign it. Your building contract should outline the scope of work, timeframes, and payment terms. It is essential to review the contract thoroughly, seek advice from a legal practitioner, and ensure that it aligns with your expectations. If you have any questions or concerns about the contract, you should discuss them with the builder before signing it.

Managing Your Expectations

It is essential to manage your expectations regarding the work’s timeframe, quality, and cost. Building or renovating a home is a complex process that involves numerous variables that may affect the work’s progress. Be realistic about the project’s timeframe and understand that there may be unexpected delays due to unforeseen circumstances. Similarly, it is essential to be realistic about the work’s cost and ensure that you have budgeted appropriately.

Communicating with Your Builder

Effective communication is key to ensuring that your building contract works for you. If you encounter any issues or delays, it is essential to communicate with your builder as soon as possible. Your builder may have a valid reason for the delay, and it is better to address the issue early on rather than letting it escalate. If you need to vary the contract, ensure that you do so in writing, and that both parties agree to the changes.

Extending the Completion Date

In the Howell v Talevski case, the correspondence between the builder and homeowner extended the completion date of the work, which in turn allowed the homeowner to bring the claim within the limitation period. Homeowners should be aware that the building contract may be varied by written agreement, and promises made by the builder to continue working on the project after the completion date specified in the contract could have the effect of extending the completion date. If you need to extend the completion date, ensure that you do so in writing, and that both parties agree to the changes.

Enforcing Your Rights

If you encounter any issues with the work’s quality, timeframe, or cost, you may have legal rights under the Home Building Act 1989 (NSW). The Act provides statutory warranties that apply to residential building work, and you may be entitled to compensation or rectification if the work does not meet the required standards. It is essential to seek legal advice from a qualified legal practitioner who specialises in construction law to ensure that your rights are protected.


Building or fixing up a home is a big investment, so it’s important to make sure your building contract is in your favour. By knowing the terms of your building contract, managing your expectations, communicating effectively with your builder, extending the completion date, and enforcing your rights, you can avoid disputes and ensure that your building contract meets your expectations. 

If you need legal advice or assistance with a building dispute, contact a qualified legal practitioner who specialises in construction law.